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Lettuce by the Barrel

Updated on December 21, 2014
lettuce after a few weeks
lettuce after a few weeks
mid summer growth
mid summer growth

This is a continuation of my experiences of gardening in SE Alaska. This time the topic of growing lettuce in barrels. I purchased a few of those faux whiskey barrels a few years ago at my local Fred Meyer store. I opted for them for several reasons.

A. they are light weight and will not rot.

B. they were considerably cheaper than wood barrels.

I filled the barrels a little over midway with crushed plastic bottles. But you could also use packing peanuts as long as they were not the biodegradeable kind. Then I laid a layer of ground cloth over the bottles. Then I filled the barrels the rest of the way with a good potting soil. I used Mirclegrow Potting Soil since it already has time release fertilizer in it. Lettuce is considered a "cool weather crop". Another words it likes cooler temperatures and doesn't thrive in the dead of summer or where temperatures get much above 75 or 80 during the day. I like to buy the variety lettuse seed packs which has all kinds of leaf lettuce in one packet. Wet the soil down with a good soaking and then sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil evenly. Do not rewater with a watering can or hose after the seeds are down as they will just float to the edges of the barrel. Instead keep the soil moist with a misting bottle and cover the top of the barrel with a clear item the same size as the barrel. A piece of plastic, plexiglass or real glass will work just fine. This makes a little green house affect until the seeds germinate. Instructions of the seed packet says to thin the seedlings once they germinate. I would suggest NOT doing this. Lettuce is shallow rooted and if you don't thin the barrels will get wonderfully full as the plants grow. Once the seedlings are well established remove the topper and keep watered. I have my barrels on my deck which is on the north and west side of my house. They get sun and light all afternoon and do beautifully.

When ready to harvest lettuce for a salad get the kitchen shears out and just give it a bit of a haircut. DO NOT pull the plants up by the roots. New growth with come back from the parent plant where you have cut again and again. Where I live my lettuce has never "bolted" ( gone to seed) as it can do in hotter climates. I have so much lettuce in my barrels I am usually giving it away. I have not had to use any pesticides on my lettuce and have had no problem with slugs either since they can't get into the barrels.

At the end of the summer i just let the soil dry out and put the barrels in my shed for the winter. Come the following spring I loosen the dirt and add some fresh potting soil to the top. No need to start from square one. The only thing i am thinking of doing for the future is attaching some rolling caster wheels to the bottom of the barrels so i can wheel them around my deck more easily.

So give this a try! Great for kids first gardening projects, if they grow it, they will be sure to eat it too!


Submit a Comment

  • writinginalaska profile image

    writinginalaska 6 years ago from southeast Alaska

    thank you Peggy for the supportive comments and glad you enjoyed my Hub. :) lvh

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

    It is wonderful growing your own food and gardening this way would make it quite easy to do. I might try some barrel gardening in the future. Nice hub. Up and useful votes!

  • writinginalaska profile image

    writinginalaska 6 years ago from southeast Alaska

    Thank you so much Wayne for your wonderful comments and for stopping by. I have had so much success with this method, so very easy and practical. So glad you approve :) lvh

  • Wayne Brown profile image

    Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas

    Excellent idea...beautiful to look at and practical for use. What could be better, it's the best of both worlds. I always loved the look of those barrels as well. It's a winner. Thanks for sharing. WB

  • writinginalaska profile image

    writinginalaska 6 years ago from southeast Alaska

    thank you kim for stopping by and posting a comment on my Hub. you should write some hubs too.

  • Kim M Gregory profile image

    Kim Morgan Gregory 6 years ago from The Coast of The South Carolina Lowcountry

    Nice Hub...well written, short and to the point. I am from SC and am a huge 'backyard farmer'. I am in the process of tearing out my summer garden and putting in my fall garden which includes many lettuce varities. It is nice to hear what folks on the other side of our beautiful earth are planting.

    I glggled when you said your lettuce doesn't bolt nor your barrels rot...everything here bolts, mildews and then rots...but we can't complain...we have lots of nice sunny days. It is currently 93* of ,luck to you in your gardening.

  • writinginalaska profile image

    writinginalaska 6 years ago from southeast Alaska

    Thank you Will for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment. Yes, more than just lettuce. I have done spinach, lots of herbs, carrots, green onions etc all do quite well. lvh

  • WillStarr profile image

    WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

    This is a great idea! In fact, it's a great idea for all sorts of plantings.

    Up and very useful.

  • writinginalaska profile image

    writinginalaska 6 years ago from southeast Alaska

    @Brandonwm80 thanks for stopping by and having a read. comments are so nice to receive.

    @thranax a nice yield indeed for little work. Fresh as can be, no weeding, and certainly cheaper than buying lettuce at the store. thanks for your comment.

  • VENZKHVAM profile image

    VENZKHVAM 6 years ago from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers

    Growing something on our own is always exhilarating.

    The freshness of new leaves coming gives you the feeling of a proud owner of those new leaves all this feeling sis really great.

    Lettuce is a wonderful and imp ingredient for a healthy eating of salads.It is really a nice way to grow in small in pots.

    very useful hub

    I had voted up and useful

    I am following you and also waiting to hear from you on all my three hubs .

  • thranax profile image

    Andrew 6 years ago from Rep Boston MA

    Wow that looks like a nice yield.


  • Brandonwm80 profile image

    Brandonwm80 6 years ago from Columbus Ohio

    nice hub I enjoyed reading this information . I learn somthing new every hub.

  • writinginalaska profile image

    writinginalaska 6 years ago from southeast Alaska

    well thank you kind Sir, taking a bow...... let me know how your garden grows next year ;) lvh

  • profile image

    Robnpak 6 years ago

    Well done! I'm going to give this a try next year. It will definitely keep the moose from eating all of my veggies like they do when I garden in the yard.