Lettuce is one of the essential salad crops in the world. It belongs to the family Asteraceae. Lettuce is temperate region crop. Lettuce is widely used in salads, preparation of soups and burgers, etc.
It is a rich in nutrients like the Vitamin-C, calcium, folate, potassium, etc. Consumption of lettuce daily is said to be healthy.
The consumption provides adequate amount of fiber to the body. One can grow lettuce with little care in indoors. In this article we look into how to go for indoor cultivation of lettuce.
How to Grow Lettuce Indoors
Selection of a variety:
There are different types of lettuce varieties available in the market, and many of them are suitable for indoor cultivation. However, it is preferable to select a loose head or butter-head type of varieties for indoor cultivation.
Selection of suitable place:
Pick a place where it will not receive high heat because high temperature will cause bitterness of lettuce leaves and high cold conditions shows adverse effect on lettuce growth.
An average temperature of 10 to 20°C is best for the cultivation of lettuce.
Prefer the places which receive abundant sunshine. If place with abundant supply of sunshine is not available, it better to grow under artificial light. Containers should be facilitated with proper drainage holes to ensure better drainage from the containers.
Selection of proper containers:
As lettuce is a shallow-rooted crop growing the plant in containers with shallow depth are preferable. Containers which are flat and have proper drainage holes are to be selected.
Prefer those containers which can be used multiple times to reduce cost of indoor cultivation. Place these containers in a place where they can receive proper light for photosynthesis.
Preparation of growing media:
Always preparation of growing media is essential which decides everything after sowing. We can use any sorts of fertile soils to grow lettuce in indoors. The growing media should be prepared in such a way that plant can avail all nutrient requirements from the growing media. For this, we can add vermin compost, farmyard manure, coco peat, garden soil, etc. This helps to enrich the nutrient status of growing media. Also the media should not become compact when they get wet; this will reduce the proper aeration. Avoid using media which has low fertility, is compact and contaminated with weed seeds, pest, diseases, etc.
Sowing and transplanting:
Sprinkle lettuce seeds and cover them with garden soil and give a gentle water spray to ensure proper germination. Transplanting should be done when they attain a proper stage. Transplanting should be done before they attain bony growth. Sprinkle the water lightly immediately after transplanting. Avoid overcrowding of seedlings in the containers which can result in increased competition for resources and further decrease the growth and development of plant. While transplanting care should be taken to avoid damage to the roots.
As we are growing lettuce in small scale in the indoors, soil fertility is not a problem. Moreover, need of chemical fertilizers is rare. It can be done with little application of vermicompost, farmyard manure, household wastes like fruit and vegetable scraps, waste food materials, etc. There is high-need of Nitrogen for lettuce. So, it is beneficial to provide nitrogen through liquid sprays.
NOTE: Avoid usage of non-degradable materials like plastic along with household waste materials as fertilizer.
Watering the plants:
Regular watering is indispensable in indoor cultivation of lettuce. Starving lettuce leaves without irrigating them will cause wilting of the leaves. Give light irrigation daily and provide irrigation whenever you find soil dry. However, avoid heavy irrigation which further may cause the rotting type of diseases.
Pest and diseases:
Mostly being indoors, there will be fewer incidences of pest and diseases. You may not come across with any pest and diseases if you are growing lettuce in proper conditions and suitable growing media. However, rarely we may encounter with the sucking pests like aphids, etc. and diseases like leaf spot. We can manage this pests and diseases with little care by collection and destruction of affected plant parts etc.
Harvesting of indoor lettuce:
Lettuce will be ready for harvest within four weeks after transplanting. Mostly prefer to harvest in the morning hours when leaves are turgid enough. Harvesting lettuce leaves indoors during sunny times is undoubtedly a bad practice. If we want to collect lettuce leaves for more extended periods we have to harvest or cut outside 3-4 leaves at once leaving the core undisturbed. Consume the leaves as fast as possible if refrigerating conditions are not available at home. If you have a refrigerator, it can be stored up to a week.
By growing lettuce in indoors we can get a year-round supply of lettuce for our household requirements.We can also reduce the household expenses incurred towards vegetables. Moreover, the most advantage we can reap out from indoor cultivation of lettuce is we can get fresh and healthy lettuce without chemical residues.