Tips for Growing Lettuces and Salad Mix
Growing lettuce and salad mix is fairly simple and can be done in small spaces, including pots. Right now I am growing a mix in a fairly small pot. If only the robins would leave it alone, I suspect I’ll be able to harvest in the next few weeks! I also spent time growing salad mix for a market garden operation.
Keep the following in mind when planning and planting your lettuce bed:
- Lettuces and greens are cool weather crops. They tend to bolt (go to seed) much more quickly in high heat and direct sun. Both do well in semi-shade or even mostly shade and certainly prefer spring and fall weather.
- The easiest way to manage a variety of lettuces and greens for a salad mix are in swaths of separate varieties in six inch rows separated by enough room for a stirrup hoe (available in three and six inch widths). Weeds are much easier to both see and remove with this layout and harvesting is simpler due to a more consistent size in the lettuces. Another benefit of keeping the two separate is during harvest when a desired balance between the two tastes can be measured.
- Maintenance includes weeding, watering, successive sowing, and weekly harvesting. Weeding is a particular concern, as weeds in the final product are undesirable (if for sale) and can sneak their way into a mix. It is also a meticulous process since the lettuces are very fragile and shallow rooted. On the other hand, many weeds are wild edibles and add nutrition, flavor and interest to the mix. Just make sure you know what you are harvesting!
- Some wild edibles that are great in a salad mix include chickweed, amaranth, wild chives, and violet leaves.
- Lettuce and green seeds can be sown on a rotational schedule to extend the season. This is called successive planting. They generally do best in spring and fall. If you create a cool microclimate (for instance in a food forest), then the summer is fair game too.
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