Lettuce- Latuca sativa
Lettuce is a delicious and healthy leafy vegetable, an annual plant belonging to the family of Asteraceae.
Nowadays, lettuce is used in burgers, wraps, tortillas, salads, soups, sandwiches etc.
Lettuce originated in the Mediterranean area (Ancient Egypt) 7000 years ago.
In ancient days lettuce was considered a weed, but now it is a leafy vegetable used in many dishes.
Tomb paintings in ancient Egypt depict the different varieties of lettuce found today.
Growing lettuce has the main advantage of being able to harvest it within a few weeks.
History of lettuce:
In history, people cultivated lettuce as early as 2700 B.C., and the Greeks were the ones who started cultivating it by following the Egyptians.
They used lettuce for various medicinal purposes and started serving it as a salad for better digestion of food.
Along with time, they started liking the taste of the leaves and started including lettuce leaves regularly in their foods.
Romans started following the Greeks. Likewise, it started spreading worldwide, and now it is consumed everywhere.
China is the top producer of lettuce worldwide. The number one exporter of lettuce is
North America and Western Europe is the major large lettuce production market. India is the 3rd largest producer of lettuce in the world market.
In India, Nilgiris and Bangalore regions produce a significant amount of lettuce through Polyhouse cultivation.
South India is a major lettuce supplier for big brands like McDonald’s in India.
The demand for lettuce is very high because today’s generation prefers fast-food items like
burgers, wraps etc., where lettuce plays a major integral role.
How to grow lettuce at home in pots through seeds?
Step1: choose the right location
You should pick a place where proper sunlight and ventilation are available. The temperature should be between 12-21C.
The optimum temperature is 18C, and the night temperature should not exceed 15 C. It needs 6 hours of sunlight to grow well and prefers cool weather.
Step2: Right selection of pots
Properly selecting a pot (35 cm wide and 6cm deep) is essential. The pot chosen should have a maximum surface area.
Lettuce has a small, short root system requiring only 5-7 inches of soil.
The selected pot should be shallow and longer, giving more space for growing plants.
One should make suitable drainage holes in the pot to avoid water stagnation near the plant’s roots.
For that selecting a clay pot will be better for warm places.
Step3: prepare the soil
The right selection of soil plays an important role. Lettuce prefers soil rich in organic matter, is well-draining and has a P.H. between 6-7.
Mix the soil with compost, leaf mould or well-rotted manure.
Both soil and organic manure should be in the proper amendment.
Step 4: Choose your lettuce variety
Now fill the pot with prepared soil and organic matter till the soil reaches the pot’s rim. Gently tap the soil by using your hands to set the compact.
Select a variety that grows well in the pot. Romaine lettuce is the best choice for pot culture. This variety can survive well in mild heat also.
Romaine lettuce takes 70-85 days to mature. You can also choose butterhead and leaf lettuce for pot culture.
Consider the available space and the time you want to maintain your lettuce plant when choosing a variety.
Step 5:Plant your lettuce.
After choosing the lettuce variety, it is time for you to plant your lettuce.
You can plant the lettuce by direct seeding or transplanted seedlings.
If you are planting directly, sow your seeds thinly and cover them with a thin layer of soil.
If you are transplanting, transplant your seedlings at least 6 inches apart to give them room to grow.
Step 6: Water your lettuce
Lettuce requires consistent moisture to thrive, so it’s essential to water your plants regularly.
Water your lettuce deeply once or twice a week, depending on the weather.
Avoid watering over the lettuce leaf, as this can increase the disease risk.
Step 7: Fertilise your lettuce
To ensure your lettuce plants have all the nutrients they need to grow, fertilise them regularly.
You can use a balanced fertiliser such as 10-10-10 or a fertiliser formulated explicitly for lettuce.
Don’t over-fertilize because this may burn your plants.
Step 8: control pests and disease
Like all plants, lettuce is also susceptible to pests and diseases.
To keep your plants healthy, control these problems as soon as they arise.
Some common pests are aphids, slugs, and snails; to control these pests, use natural remedies like insecticidal soap.
To prevent pests and disease, keep your lettuce plant in a clean and debris-free area.
Step 9: Harvest your lettuce
After the lettuce plants get mature, it’s time for harvest.
Harvest the lettuce when the leaves are young and tender.
Step 10: Store the lettuce:
Once it is harvested, store it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh.
How to grow lettuce at home without seeds?
Lettuce can be grown very quickly without seeds. Temperature plays an essential role in growing lettuce, and the proper season selection is essential.
The ideal germination temperature of lettuce is 15-20c. When lettuce is grown in the wrong season, germination will not happen.
Lettuce requires 6-8 hours of sunlight daily, but the temperature should be low. If the temperature is below 20c, the germination rate will be good.
1. Select healthy cuttings:
To grow lettuce without seeds, we should have the cuttings ready.
First, we should purchase the lettuce from our nearby farmers or local grocery market.
The next step is to use the leafy portion for salads or other cooking needs and then reuse the leftover stem portion to grow new lettuce.
In the first step, we should cut the leaf portion of the lettuce. The budding portion should
not be disturbed. Leave about a 1-2 inch portion of lettuce.
2. Prepare the soil mixture:
Now fill the pot with soil mixture which includes organic matter +potty soil +garden soil.
Then wash the lettuce stem cuttings in clean water and ensure they are free from pests and disease. Make tiny holes in the soil mixture and place the individual cuttings in each hole at the required distance.
After placing the cuttings in the hole, cover the lettuce root portion with soil mixture, and give a gentle tap around the soil.
3. Regular watering:
You should spray water around the lettuce, apart from the root portion.
Regular watering is mandatory, and you must take frequent care in the initial stages due to the higher chances of pest and disease attacks.
4. Control pests and diseases:
Major pest attacks will be by aphids and cutworms. The natural spray of Azadiractin(extract from neem tree) can control these insect attacks, which is effective against aphids and cutworms.
The disease that majorly affects lettuce is leaf spot, which can also be easily controlled by neem extract.
Keep the lettuce planted in a pot in proper sunlight and ventilation near a window or an open area.
A few hours (6-8) of sunlight is sufficient for lettuce growth. If all the above steps are done correctly within shorter days, tiny leaves will emerge from the lettuce stem portion.
Repotting can be done, if necessary, into a big pot. Harvest the leaves once it reaches 3-5 inches. Make a salad and enjoy healthy eating.
Health benefits of lettuce :
- Lettuce is a rich source of vitamin k which is important for strengthening the bone. 90% of
lettuce is water which hydrates the body when consumed.
2. Lettuce is high in nutrients and low in calories, which means it is rich in protein, fibre, vitamins, magnesium, iron, potassium, riboflavin, and thiamin.
3. Red leaf lettuce contains more vitamin k when compared to the romaine variety.
4. It has been used in Unani for treating many health ailments. It controls inflammation, reduces body weight, promotes brain health, and reduces cancer risk. It improves vision health
because it contains vitamins.
5 The fibre in lettuce reduces digestive ailments like constipation and bloating.
6. Lettuce helps in treating insomnia when consumed at night.
7. Enhances bone health.
8. Boost immunity.
9. Increase the milk for the baby during pregnancy.
10. Skin, hair, and muscle strength are improved.
11. Fight against anaemia.
Frequently asked questions:
1. How long does lettuce take to grow?
Lettuce typically takes 30-60 days to grow, depending on the variety, growing condition and desired harvesting size.
2. Will lettuce regrow after cutting?
Yes, lettuce can regrow if it is planted in soil and taken proper care.This process is known as regrowing or propagating lettuce, and it is a sustainable way to produce more lettuce at home.