Grow a Gourmet Salad on Your Deck
Growing lettuce is a great way to dip your toe into gardening, even if you don’t have a green thumb and you don’t have much space. It’s easy to grow and requires little space and effort. I grow most of my lettuce in containers on the deck. Even if you only have a window box you can try a variety or two of lettuce.
Lettuce likes rich soil, so use compost or fertilizer and some good potting soil if you are using containers. You want a sunny spot if possible, but partial shade is also OK. One thing I like about using containers for lettuce is that you can move them into shady areas once the weather starts to really heat up. Lettuce doesn’t like hot temperatures so you want the plants more shaded, if possible, come July.
Lettuce doesn’t need to be started inside. Just sow it directly into the ground or your pots in early spring. Most lettuce seeds will germinate as long as the soil is above 45 F, although it will germinate better if the soil is above 60 F. Over 80 F is too hot and it won’t germinate or thrive. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and follow the spacing instructions on your packages. Keep the soil moist. Lettuce takes between 35 to 70 days from planting to harvest, depending on the variety. Once your lettuce is ready to harvest take care to just cut a few leaves at a time from each plant. That way your plants will keep producing.
This year I went whole-hog and planted 15 varieties of greens, all in containers out on the deck. I had a lot of free seeds I’ve collected over the years that I thought I could use up. I figure that even if only some of them germinate and take off, we will still have plenty of salads this year. Having an excess also allows us to pick a little from each kind and then let the plants rebound so they keep producing, hopefully into July if the weather doesn’t get too hot.
Greens seeds are inexpensive and, even if all you have is a porch or a deck, you can give them a try in containers. Once you’ve had your own fresh-picked salad you will never buy packaged salads again!