Tips for Growing Lettuce Indoors

digitS'

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Phase 2 of this experiment: how to keep lettuce alive outdoors in January
And, that should be interesting, although their cold-hardiness will be of serious importance.

And yes, I must be crazy. Or enthusiastic. You be the judge
Okay, I think that you may really be handling this right, Branching Out.

Think how limited your choices are with indoors/outdoors growing in January. Think of how much more of the lettuce you will have with cut & come again. Think of how expensive leaf lettuce is at your neighborhood market.

You even seem to be addressing my initial concern: interference with the other garden starts which will soon need to be showing up in your indoor growing space. Your scheduling has really piqued my attention.

Steve
 

Branching Out

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Wow! That's pretty incredible for January! What is your seasonal low for this time of year? Looks warm there 🙃
Our daytime temperatures have been around 8-10C(46-50F), with just a bit cooler and rainy in the forecast for most of the next two weeks. Fortunately lettuce likes cool weather. For now I will bring the trays back in at night time, to keep them warm and dry. Reducing watering seems to be important too as they get ready for life in the great outdoors-- especially given our damp weather which can encourage grey mold in winter.
 

Phaedra

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Lettuces are, in my place, pretty hardy and can stay outside most of the time. They won't grow that quickly outdoors but would be okay.

You don't need a fancy cold frame. Instead, you can assemble a mobile one with either PVC pipes or some metal wires and then use fleece as protection (when there is a strong and lasting frost forecast).
 

ducks4you

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I think the hardest part about growing outside HERE, where we have had about 40 nights below freezing to far this season, is to keep lettuce from getting frosted, while, at the same time, keeping the soil moist.
It is beyond my current talents right now, so mine will be started soon in my cool/cold but NOT freezing basement.
 

Branching Out

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I think the hardest part about growing outside HERE, where we have had about 40 nights below freezing to far this season, is to keep lettuce from getting frosted, while, at the same time, keeping the soil moist.
It is beyond my current talents right now, so mine will be started soon in my cool/cold but NOT freezing basement.
Agreed, that growing anything outdoors during these cold dark months is a challenge, especially until the days get back up over 10 hours in early February. Then things really take off again. And I am kind of wondering why I put so much energy in to trying to 'grow' lettuce outside in December, when lettuce inside seems to grow by leaps and bounds with almost no effort. The red and green leaves are really brightening up my laundry room! Lol. I hope that your lettuce seeds sprout and thrive for you once you plant them.

And as Phaedra mentioned above lettuce is quite hardy and resilient, and row cover is often enough to protect outdoor lettuce from a hard frost- but not always. During our most recent extended deep freeze in December my friend and I each tried Eliot Coleman's method of using either thicker row cover or two layers of row cover, and it sadly it turned out to be too much of a good thing. The fabric trapped too much humidity, and the lettuce succumbed to mold. Plants that had just one thin layer of row cover came through just fine. That makes us think that for our Pacific NW climate, lettuce will often rebound from being frozen-- but not from being damp and frozen. We sometimes have weeks and weeks (or in the case of last spring, months and months) of rain which makes for muddy soil. I would like to trial suspending a long sheet of 1' x 8' polycarbonate on top of flat-topped rectangular loop hoops, with a nice layer of row cover pinned over the top and sides. That could provide a few degrees of extra warmth, while keeping the crowns of the plants protected from excessive rain. Now I just need it to stop raining for a bit, so I can try it out.
 

heirloomgal

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Two of the new lettuces I'm trying this year are 'North Pole' and 'Winter Marvel', which I picked because they are on the colder side of the spectrum for growing and tolerating freezing temps. After attempting my first lettuce seed crop in 2022, I realize that varieties which go to seed quicker - thereby avoiding both hungry sparrows as well as fall rains - are a better choice if I want both lettuce and seeds. Going through all the various lettuce offerings out there lately has me in awe of how much diversity there is. It's pretty incredible, and there are so many tempting kinds. Frank Morton has one called 'Mayan Jaguar' 🥰. Too bad it's a romaine, a difficult one for seed saving.

Given how unusual it is for lettuces to cross, one day I'd love to do a giant lettuce grow out of 50+ types.
 

Branching Out

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Two of the new lettuces I'm trying this year are 'North Pole' and 'Winter Marvel', which I picked because they are on the colder side of the spectrum for growing and tolerating freezing temps. After attempting my first lettuce seed crop in 2022, I realize that varieties which go to seed quicker - thereby avoiding both hungry sparrows as well as fall rains - are a better choice if I want both lettuce and seeds. Going through all the various lettuce offerings out there lately has me in awe of how much diversity there is. It's pretty incredible, and there are so many tempting kinds. Frank Morton has one called 'Mayan Jaguar' 🥰. Too bad it's a romaine, a difficult one for seed saving.

Given how unusual it is for lettuces to cross, one day I'd love to do a giant lettuce grow out of 50+ types.
I just ordered 'Winter Marvel' seeds too! That one looks really promising, especially for early spring or late summer planting. And we are on the same page in terms of a preference for lettuce that bolts earlier for ease of seed saving. This past summer my Crispheads 'Cherokee' and 'Jester' had their seed ripen in October, and by then the blossoms were covered in aphids and the weather had turned a bit damp. I came across a post from Pam Dawling that indicated that bolt-resistance generally goes from 'leaf' type lettuces, which are the first to bolt, through Romaines, Butterheads, Bibbs, and finally Crispheads (aka Summer Crisp or Batavian). Who knew?
 
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heirloomgal

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I just ordered 'Winter Marvel' seeds too! That one looks really promising, especially for early spring or late summer planting. And we are on the same page in terms of a preference for lettuce that bolts earlier for ease of seed saving. This past summer my Crispheads 'Cherokee' and 'Jester' had their seed ripen in October, and by then the blossoms were covered in aphids and the weather had turned a bit damp. I came across a post from Pam Dawling that indicated that bolt-resistance generally goes from 'leaf' type lettuces, which are the first to bolt, through Romaines, Butterheads, Bibbs, and finally Crispheads (aka Summer Crisp or Batavian). Who knew?
We've been on the same lettuce wavelength for awhile it seems, since I did my first real lettuce grow out last year and one of the 6 I grew was 'Jester'. I'm so surprised that romaine would bolt before butterheads and bibbs! I would have put romaine as one of the last!
 

Branching Out

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I am starting to send lettuce seedlings to friends since they are out-growing my light set-up, but a few got dumped on the ground by accident the other day. I hate it when that happens. It looks like they will survive though.

On a positive note, a new variety that I am trying is called Parella Rosa (aka Rouge de Montpellier), shown in the bottom right corner of the photo below. So far it has quite an intriguing compact habit, and looks very different than my other lettuce. Super dark green leaves.

I am away from home for a few days, so my husband has kindly agreed to water my mini blocks of lettuce, mixed mustard mesclun greens, and flower seeds while I am away. All of the larger plants will be just fine without water for several days. (I am hoping that maybe he will enjoy tending our indoor garden, and get hooked on growing things too! A girl can dream, right?)
 

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