Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Grow Baby Romaine Lettuce

Harvest your own home-grown baby romaine lettuce.

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Leafy lettuces such as romaine don’t form tight heads but are good for growing baby salad greens. Immature, or baby, romaine leaves are milder and much more tender than large, fully grown greens since you harvest them any time after they’re 2 or 3 inches tall. Romaine lettuce is sometimes referred to as a “cut and come again” plant, which means you can expect several harvests. You can remove up to 75 percent of the plant’s tender baby leaves at any one time. The romaine lettuce plant will continue to produce more succulent young greens throughout the season. The bonus is that you’ll harvest your first baby romaine lettuce in just a few weeks after sowing the seeds.

Related Searches:Difficulty:EasyInstructions Things You'll NeedWell-rotted manureFish emulsionOrganic mulch such as leaf mold or grass clippingsPlastic food storage bagsSuggest Edits1

Choose a fertile, well-draining spot in full sun as soon as the soil can be easily worked in early spring. Romaine lettuce prefers cool weather between 45 and 65 degrees F. Cultivate the soil to a depth of about 10 inches. Spread a 1-inch layer of well rotted manure over the bed and till it into the top 3 inches of soil.

2

Broadcast the romaine lettuce seeds loosely over the prepared garden space when soil temperature reaches 55 degrees F. You can space them about 1 inch apart in rows about 12 inches apart if you prefer. Cover the seeds with ¼ inch of soil. Spacing isn’t crucial for lettuce plants that you intend to harvest baby greens from since they won’t be growing to mature size. The seeds will sprout in about a week.

3

Water the bed gently but thoroughly to evenly moisten the soil. Thereafter water your baby romaine lettuce plants enough to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy or wet. Don’t let the soil dry out. The plants may require supplemental watering as much as every other day in the absence of regular rainfall.

4

Feed your baby romaine lettuce with fish emulsion once weekly. Follow the packaging instructions carefully.

5

Thin the romaine plants to about 6 inches apart when they’re about 2 inches tall. Eat the pulled plants or find an empty spot elsewhere in the garden for them.

6

Spread a 1-inch layer of organic mulch such as leaf mold or grass clippings between the romaine lettuce plants immediately after thinning. This will help keep the soil cool, retain moisture and go a long way toward weed control.

7

Pinch baby leaves off the romaine lettuce plant individually at the stem anytime after they’re 2 or 3 inches long. The best time to harvest tender greens is early in the morning while they’re still fresh and full of water from the night before.

8

Rinse the baby romaine lettuce leaves carefully under slowly running cold running. Shake the excess water off the leaves and pat them dry gently. Refrigerate the baby lettuce immediately in sealed plastic food storage bags.

Tips & Warnings

Plant seeds every two weeks for a continuous supply of tender young baby romaine lettuce from spring through early summer.

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ReferencesColorado State University Extension: Health Benefits and Safe Handling of Salad GreensOhio State University Extension: Growing Lettuce in the Home GardenMother Earth News: All About Growing LettuceRe-nest: How to Grow Baby LettuceLandreth Seeds: The Lovely Lettuce FamilyResourcesKitchen Garden Seed: Fruits & Vegetables -- Romaine LettuceFood: Kitchen Dictionary: LettucePhoto Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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