Mistakes to Avoid when Growing Lettuce
The refreshing sight of a healthy crop of lettuce makes it a worthwhile vegetable to grow. The vegetable is found in 4 varieties—butterhead lettuce, romaine, crisphead and leaf lettuce. They all require similar basic conditions for growth. Well-drained soils with lots of organic compost will assure healthy growth. Lettuce also requires plenty of water throughout cultivation. Although it needs quite a bit of consistent care, the reward of green, healthy and leafy vegetables is well worth the effort. Following are some common mistakes you need to avoid.
Lettuce will do best in well-drained soils such as sandy or loamy soils. Soil acidity should ideally be around 6.5. Planting before taking a soil test may not give you the desired results when cultivating lettuce. A soil test has several benefits. It will help verify if the soil has ideal properties to sustain healthy growth of lettuce plants. Soil moisture levels, soil acidity and nutrient content can all be ascertained through a soil test. It will help you determine more accurately what aspect of the soil needs to be addressed to support healthy growth. If you plant without taking a soil test, you are likely to encounter problems later that could have been addressed earlier.
Fertilizer generally supports healthy growth of plants and is beneficial to your vegetables. However, it may be the case that your soil is already fairly rich in nutrients and the lettuce will not require much more additional fertilizer. Also, if you used organic compost when planting, you do not need additional fertilizer, especially if it is a chemical fertilizer. Avoid excessive application of fertilizer as it is likely to hinder healthy growth. Your lettuce may get overwhelmed and fail to achieve optimal health.
Mulching is an excellent practice and one that will enable your lettuce to thrive. It helps the soil retain moisture so that less water is lost through evaporation. It also discourages weed growth. As the mulch breaks down over time, the soil receives supplemental nutrients which is beneficial for your lettuce. Not mulching will necessitate watering more frequently to replace rapid loss of water through evaporation from the soil. Lack of mulch will also encourage weed growth which will rob your lettuce of much needed nutrients from the soil thus hindering healthy growth.
Lettuce requires plenty of water in order to thrive. Not giving your lettuce plants enough water is sure to affect their growth. Warm weather lettuce require even more water so if you live in an area where rainfall is inadequate, be sure to provide supplemental water through irrigation. However, you should also be careful to avoid over-watering. This will create soggy soils, which will suffocate the plant roots. Rot may set in, gradually causing your vegetables to die.
A fair amount of sunlight is beneficial for your lettuce. Extended exposure to direct sunlight without protection will cause dehydration and wilting. Take measures to protect them from the heat during hot weather. Use a screen or nylon netting to cover them if out in the garden. If grown in containers, transfer them to a cooler site.