container size for leaf lettuce

woohoomanMay 14, 2014

Well, my lettuces have been long gone. But I thought I'd try something. Instead of a few plants in a barrel that I can't move out of the heat, I thought I'd try in smaller containers that I could let out in full sun on days in the 70's, move to my partially shaded porch on days in the 80's and inside my french doors on hot days. Just trying to eke out a little greenage for when my tomatoes start kickin in for a few salads. I don't expect them to make it to August doing this but thought I'd give it a try to get "something."

Right now, they're in 3" starter pots. You think that those half gal nursery pots would suffice or should I go with something a bit bigger? I don't want to waste a bunch of potting mix just to have them bolt anyway. But I know too small of a pot will limit them from getting anything large enough to pick.

Thanks.

Kevin

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woodlandpatio

Oh man. I've tried growing lettuce in summer and between bolting and the amount of water needed for it to be any good, I gave up and moved to Swiss Chard for my salad.

Even in the mid-80s, it would just go south in a heartbeat if it wasn't moist all the time. And that's with afternoon shade.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 11:55AM
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eibren(z6PA)

Why not try something wider and shallower, such as a lightweight window box?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 12:07PM
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greentiger87

Trust me on this one, try the incredible variety of tropical leafy greens. There are just so many options. They take a little getting used to for the someone that grew up on traditional American cuisine, but the practicality and lack of gardening headaches is more than worth it.

A quick google search will get you all the information you need, but here's a few that I know work as raw salad greens:

Malabar spinach (Basella alba)- a little slimy, but this is much less apparent raw

Water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica) - tastes really great raw, sweet potato relative, doesn't need excessive water as the name implies. If you use cutting from an Asian grocery store, don't try rooting them in water - it won't work. They will root easily in moist potting soil.

Green Amaranth - I would only use the fully green varieties raw - the red ones are much better cooked. C4 plant that grows like a weed.

Edible Hibiscus - Trouble free prolific green

There are several other good choices that must be cooked, like chaya (Cnidoscolus chayamansa)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 12:19PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

Have you thought about sewing lettuce mix thick in a flat, harvesting young, and getting another flat going? Videos of that look fun.

Some people sell Mesclun Mix (seed) in packages big enough to make it economical.

This post was edited by johns.coastal.patio on Thu, May 15, 14 at 0:04

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 1:03PM
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zeuspaul(9b SoCal)

I have been experimenting with various container sizes for growing lettuce. I have been growing tomatoes for decades but lettuce is new to me. I don't worry about the potting soil cost as it quickly pays for itself considering the cost of lettuce. So far the salads exceed my expectations. I have been harvesting lettuce in this 95+ hot windy weather and it is not bitter.

I grow in 1/2, 1, 2, 3, 5, and 15 gal nursery pots. Some lettuce does ok in the small pots. I don't see a significant difference in growth habit between 2, 3, 5 and 15 gal nursery pots. Two or three might be optimum. I lean towards the larger sizes because they are easier to water. When the lettuce gets larger it is difficult getting the water into the one gal containers. I consider two gal the minimum to grow out lettuce. I start in two inch rose pots or sometimes three inch pots. Then pot up into the larger containers.

Two and three gal are nice for portability and you can grow good size lettuce in them. Five is similar to three but deeper. I place 4.5 pounds of DE in the bottom of the five before the potting soil. I can then place the five in a saucer and fill it with water.

The fifteen is prime because the diameter is close to the diameter of the lettuce which makes it easy to water. They are a bit deep so I start with DE before the potting soil. Also the fifteens work well with the plastic mesh poultry netting cage I place around the lettuce for protection from birds, with added wind protection and shading.

The lettuce is grown in full sun with a fair amount of wind. I don't pick outer leaves. I harvest the whole thing. The lettuce is kept well watered (wet) It is still early in the game for me so I don't know which varieties work best throughout the summer. Everything I have tried so far works. Some better than others. Southern Exposure has a good selection of summer lettuce. I just received an order of six different summer lettuce types and have begun the experiment.

We eat salad every day and haven't had to buy any lettuce for a couple of months. I don't know why it took me so long.

Zeuspaul

This post was edited by zeuspaul on Wed, May 14, 14 at 20:32

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 8:25PM
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poquitaossa

Hi Kevin: I live in a warm climate too and I've had pretty good success with sfg and container lettuces. I grow them year round. I've been growing mesclun mixes for a number of years and Burpee has a new one out this year called Heatwave Blend, which is supposed to be more heat tolerant and slow to bolt. I planted some in a container that is 10 in by 20 in and 10 inches deep. I got a number of these smaller containers so that I'm able to move them up under the patio on really hot days. The smaller containers will need to be checked more often for watering needs as they dry out faster than the sfg does. My garden area is on the north side of my house where it gets morning sun, then afternoon shade. I'm also currently growing a variety called Redina Lettuce (by Seeds of Change) which is doing really well....and it's supposed to get up to 103 degrees here tomorrow!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 1:11AM
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Deeby

I just saw today that my very first planting of mixed lettuces has sprouted. I just scattered several seeds in a wide bowl that's about 10 inches across. I'm keeping the bowl misted and partially shaded. I don't know how my first "salad pot" will do but so far it's kinda fun.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 1:16AM
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woohooman

Thanks all. Definitely some things to consider. For now, I guess I'll try some 2 gal, lighter colored pots. I have plenty of nursery pots, but after considering that they're black, probably not a good idea. Glad to hear so many others trying to push the limit on lettuces in hot climes. I've always tried to stay away from trying since I get outstanding harvests for much of the year when it's milder.

Deeby: I said I'd get some pics of my kale in containers. I took some but they're in my post titled "mid spring update" in the veggy forum. Posted last week.

Kevin

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 12:44PM
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flo9

Yeah, you want light colored pots. Just try the shade bit with little sun or growing indoors by a window that doesn't get too much sun. I've done them both and they don't seem to like artificial lighting after a couple weeks. But I only grow loose lettuce types... some romarios but I don't let them get big.

I read over winter putting bitter tasting lettuce in a bowl of ice water makes it tastes much less bitter. I haven't tried it yet. I just planted my seeds a few days ago and has sprouted already.

The only time I've grown it in ground was on a mountain and it grew and grew and tasted great until mid-late summer even with temps reaching 100.... this is when some good dressing came into play. I'm going to try the cold water this year.

If you're just doing loose lettuce they don't need too much depth and same with all types of spinach I've grown. Just keep picking the leaves. I'd say at least 6 inches is best, but I've been growing it in 3 inch depth pots too with all of the success.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:38PM
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