How to Grow Lettuce Inside Your Home
Leafy Greens, No Matter -
Winter woes in the outdoor garden won't stop lettuce from growing. The warmer temperatures of your home offer the perfect environment to grow and supply you or your family with leafy greens all season long. The best part to the matter is that it takes very little in expenses to get started. Throughout this article, I'll be discussing how to grow lettuce inside including materials needed, planting, watering and light. Also covered are some neat tricks to cut costs and recycle some plastic. After reading, you'll be growing lettuce in no time at all! So stick around and keep your thumb green, even in the winter.
Materials Needed -
- Containers : Most planters and plant designed containers will be fine to use. Make sure each lettuce plant has at least 1/2 gallon of soil. For recycled plastic ideas, stroll further down in the article.
- Potting Soil : You are what you eat, and your plants are what they eat, so start off right with quality soil. Ideally, you will have an organic soil amended with perlite for drainage and anti-compaction properties. Talk to your local hydroponics or gardening store and see what will work best.
- Lettuce Seeds : Here is where you can get creative. Spinach, Romaine, Arugula, Swiss Chard, Dandelion Greens and so much more can be grown. Great lettuce seeds can be found year round on eBay.
- Grow Lights : Not everyone will need to use artificial grow lighting, especially if you have a south facing windowsill that receives 6-8 hours of full sun. Basically, if you do need to use grow lights, plan for a minimum of 15 watts of lighting per plant. I'll touch on the use of grow lights later in the article.
Planting and Ensuring Seed Germination -
- Fill containers to the brim with potting soil.
- For containers that will be housing single lettuce plants, bury 2-3 seeds onc inch under the soil. For containers that can house multiple lettuce plants, bury seeds at a depth of one inch and spaced two inches from each other in all directions. Always plant more seeds because not all will sprout.
- Water the containers well.
- For successful germination, keep the containers and soil warm. This can be done by placing the containers under 24 hours of light, or by keeping the containers in the warmest spot of your home until the seeds sprout. The soil should be kept moist, but never over watered as it will cause mold.
- Seedlings should begin to sprout in 7-14 days depending on the variety you have chosen to grow.
Plant Care and Watering -
- Once the seedlings have sprouted, thin individual containers down to one plant if more than one seed has sprouted. For containers that are growing multiple plants, thin out seedlings until you have a distance in every direction of four inches between each lettuce plant.
- You'll need to water your lettuce plants about twice a week, or as needed. If the top two inches of soil are dry, then your lettuce needs a drink!
- You shouldn't have to fertilize your lettuce plants if you went with a quality soil. They will grow perfectly well on the nutrients already provided.
- Remember, lettuce plants do well in cooler temperatures, but they won't handle it all! Keep the temperatures in your home above 60F for lettuce to grow healthy.
Lighting Requirements -
For optimal growth, your lettuce plants should receive at least 6-8 hours of light daily. If you have a window in your home that can provide this amount of light, you can go ahead and skip grow lights altogether. Those of you who don't have enough natural sunlight, there are two great options for grow lighting for lettuce:
- Compact Fluorescent Lighting - If you're on a budget and don't want to spend a fortune on plant lighting, Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFLs) are the cheapest and most reliable route to take. CFL bulbs will screw into any standard light socket, allowing for you to turn just about any accent or desk lamp into a grow light. CFL bulbs can be purchased in a wide variety of sizes from 8 watts all the way up to 150 watts, and come in two different spectrums. You will want to purchase 6700K bulbs. To harness the most light out of your bulbs, place three inches above your plants! Remember, lettuce needs at least 15 watts of full light to grow.
- High Output T5 Fluorescent Lighting - These are more of your typical grow lights and do cost a bit more than putting your own lighting system together with CFLs. On the upside, T5 lighting systems are easy to mount and come in sizes from 2 to 4 feet in length and bulb numbers that vary from 1-8. If you are looking to grow a larger amount of lettuce, this style lighting offers the power you need.
My Setup -
Drawers from an old plastic dresser. 25 Gallons of Soil total. I use a four foot, four bulb T5 Fluorescent (218watts). Currently I am growing - 4 Romaine Lettuce, 5 Swiss Chard, 12 Radishes, 4 Heads of Garlic, 6 Green Onions, 8 Basil Plants, Mint and one Dill.
Recycle Some Plastic -
Indoor gardening is the perfect way to put some old plastic bottles into use. They make for great plant containers and cost nothing to you. Why pay $3 for a store bought when you probably have a whole gardens worth in the recycle bin? To recycle plastic as plant containers, follow these easy steps:
- Find a plastic container that is safe to use. Numbers 2,4 and 5 are the safest plastics for food and drink storage. Since you'll be growing plants for consumption, I would highly recommend one of these plastics.
- Cut the tops off to create a planter and use a very mild dish soap solution to clean the inside. Rinse thoroughly under lukewarm water.
- Poke drainage holes in the bottom and fill with soil
- On a final note, if your plastic container is clear or translucent, it will need to be covered so that no light reaches the plant's roots. Light can cause a variety of problems for plant roots, so covering up your bottles with construction paper can really help out.
That pretty much sums it up when it comes to how to grow lettuce inside. It honestly looks like more than it really is! Growing plants is meant to be enjoyable, so keep it simple. If you have any further questions regarding growing lettuce, or just gardening in general, leave me a comment. I'd be glad to help out. Thanks for reading!
If you've enjoyed this article on growing lettuce indoors, I bet you'll also enjoy:
- How to Grow Arugula in Containers
- Growing Cherry Tomatoes in Containers
- Container Gardening Beets
- How to Grow Jalapenos in Containers
- Radishes Container Gardening
. . . and if that doesn't satisfy what you're after, try having a look through my complete list of Container Gardening Guides.