How to Grow Lettuce Indoors
Growing lettuce indoors is a great way to save money and provide your family with the freshest produce. Many home gardeners bring lettuce inside during the winter to grow tender and tasty baby lettuce that makes the best salads.
For the indoor gardener, this is a great option to produce healthy food all year long. Even beginners can grow lettuce and salad greens inside their homes, this makes a wonderful option for apartment dwellers.
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Can you Grow Lettuce Indoors?
Yes, you can grow many types of lettuce indoors without any issues. Lettuce can grow well in pots but does particularly well in a hydroponic system.
Growing lettuce in your home allows you to save money and feed your family the freshest salads all year long.
What Types of Lettuce Grow Well Indoors?
Loose-leaf varieties are best for growing lettuce indoors. Heads of lettuce tend to take up more space and limit production.
When choosing varieties look at what their light needs are as the light requirements of your plants will greatly affect the setup you will need for growing lettuce indoors. Some great varieties for growing indoors include:
- Baby Oakleaf
- Tom Thumb
- Black-Seeded Simpson
- Arctic King
- Winter Marvel
- Winter Density
- Garden Babies
- Red Deer Tongue
What Kind of Equipment do I Need to Grow Lettuce Indoors?
The setup and equipment you will need to grow your lettuce inside will be dependent on the growing method you choose to use pots or a hydroponic growing system. Both, with the right system, are viable ways to grow lettuce indoors.
Growing lettuce in pots is easily done in the same way you would other houseplants. you will need the basics like a large pot and quality soil.
To produce a good crop of lettuce you will need a quality grow light that can provide enough light to allow your lettuce to produce enough food through photosynthesis. This used to be much more complicated and costly but with the advancement of LED lights can now be easily and cost-effective enough for more families to grow food indoors over the winter.
The most effective way to grow lettuce is with hydroponics. You can purchase entire hydroponic setups that have everything you need.
For a homemade hydroponics setup, the easiest and most cost-effective option would be to set up a Kratky Method Hydroponics system with a few basic supplies like a large bucket with a lid, mesh baskets, and fertilizer solution. Like with the potted method you will need to use a grow light to provide optimal conditions for encouraging growth.
How to Grow Lettuce Indoors
Growing lettuce indoors is easy and anyone with the space can do it. To help make more room for your lettuce garden I suggest growing vertically.
Lettuce is water hungry and best grown in containers that allow for drainage but will not draw water out of the container. For this reason, you should avoid growing your lettuce in clay pots without a plastic inner pot.
Starting from Seeds
Start your seeds in seed starter pods with 2-3 seeds per pod. If you plan to eat immature younger lettuce leaves you can plant more seeds per container. If you want full-size lettuce you will need to thin each seeding down to 1 plant per pod.
Cover with soil and water gently with a spray bottle. Place these seeds under a grow light to encourage growth when they sprout. Keep your seedlings moist and warm, at least 70 degrees for the best growth.
After your seedlings are growing strong you can transplant them to their pots or your hydroponics system. Provide your lettuce with 12 to 16 hours of light per day. Do not leave your grow lights on 24/7 as your plants need a dark cycle to grow properly.
To help your lettuce grow, use fertilizer or check your hydroponic system’s levels often. A good rule of thumb when fertilizing indoor lettuce to encourage the most growth is to fertilize with an organic liquid fertilizer every time you harvest.
You can harvest your lettuce as baby greens at about 4 inches tall. This can take about 3 to 4 weeks. To keep a constant supply for your family use succession planting with a new batch every 1 to 2 weeks depending on how fast your family can go through your lettuce.
For full-size lettuce, you will be able to harvest it in about 6 to 8 weeks. Lettuce is a fast-growing and filling plant that can be grown in many varieties to help feed your family the freshest produce possible over the winter from your indoor garden.
Lettuce plants can easily attract pests even inside your home. In the summer these moist leafy plants are likely to attract fruit flies if they are a problem in your area or if you accidentally bring some home on your fruit from the store. Be careful to prevent these pests as they are very hard to get rid of.
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