How to Grow Crispy Iceberg lettuce
The key to growing lettuce, and Iceberg lettuce is no different, is to plant at regular intervals. This ensures that you have a regular supply throughout the summer. It’s a good idea to plant a variety of different lettuces too, but today we are going to concentrate on Icebergs.
Why grow Iceberg Lettuce?
Iceberg lettuce is tightly packed with only the outer leaves seeing direct light, which means that it is less green and therefore, less nutritious than a lot of other
leaves. So why grow it? Well, the best reason for growing it is for the crisp texture which gives it its other name "crisp-head lettuce" and adds a little crunch to any salad. The other excellent reason is that it keeps a lot better than many other lettuce varieties and can last a month if properly stored in the fridge. It’s a great variety to grow toward the end of the year if you want to keep on eating your own food long after others have turned back to the supermarket.
You can try growing lettuce from seed or buy lettuce plants from the garden centre, yet it is easy to start growing lettuce in containers too if you don't have space on your plot.
How should you sow Iceberg Lettuce?
You can start sowing lettuce seed indoors from January to September and transplant outside from April to October. Sow around eight seeds in a small pot or seed tray. Place them in a cool space to help the seeds grow faster. Once plants reach 8-10cm (3-4 inches) move the plants to their final place in your planter or garden. Lettuce grow quite big so leave 30cm (12") between plants and rows.
If you don't have the space for a whole head of lettuce then try cut and come again leaves instead The 5 Easiest Vegetables to Grow in Pots or Rocket as these need less room to grow Grow at Home: Rocket
Where should Iceberg lettuce be Positioned?
Compared to Cut-and-Come-Again leaves, iceberg lettuce is trickier to grow. It bolts quite easily if you leave it too long. The plants are also easily affected by wind or cold, or too much or too little water. Finding a sheltered spot will help a lot with this. So a raised bed with a raised edge or collar or a Kitchen Garden Cloche will help massively. Choose your tunnel carefully depending on what time of year you are planting. When closed all offer pest protection but for soil warming and warmth for early season and frost protection then choose Easy Poly tunnel or Easy fleece tunnel. For shading from hot sun to lessen bolting the Easy Net tunnel is the best option.
How do you Care for Lettuce?
Make sure you have some pest protection in place. Iceberg lettuce are very tasty, especially when young, so the tunnel or cloche you are using to protect them from the wind will work here too. It will prevent slugs, snails, birds and rabbits arriving en-masse. If there are large leaves dragging on the ground, then remove these to deter snails. A slug buster beer trap is also a good idea.
Water the lettuce often, it will help it grow and get nice and crispy. It’s also worth using a liquid feed every couple of months.
How and When do you Harvest Lettuce?
Icebergs take between 50 and 90 days to grow. When the head is large and feels tightly packed; it is ready to cut.
Cut with a knife to harvest. A note of caution - take them inside and store as soon as you cut them. If you leave them in the garden while you complete other garden tasks, they will wilt, and you'll lose the crispness you grew them for.
Can you Grow Lettuce from Scraps?
Lettuce plants can be grown in water, but they don't get enough nutrients to make a whole head of lettuce. However, it will sprout and produce enough leaves to eat as cut and come again.
How do you Grow Lettuce from Scraps?
Cut your lettuce so you leave at least 1″ (2.5cm) at the root end. Put the stump in water propping it so that it stays upright. If you use a small glass-jar then that will make it easier. Place it in direct sunlight on a windowsill or use a grow light. Then all you have to do is wait and harvest your free lettuce as and when required.
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