Monday, December 19, 2011

Soil Needs of Romaine Lettuce

Romaine is a cool season crop.

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Romaine is a type of lettuce often grown in home gardens. It forms tight clusters of upright leaves reaching 10 inches or more in height. The large, flat leaves of romaine make it ideal for sandwiches and hamburgers, but this versatile vegetable is frequently used in salads as well.

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Lettuce seeds are small and require fine, loose soil for germination. Till the ground thoroughly prior to planting to ensure no large clods or air pockets will impede sprouting. Amend compacted, heavy soils with compost or other organic matter to improve texture and drainage. Apply a layer of organic mulch, like wood chips, to your planting bed to help keep the soil cool, retain moisture and control weeds.

Fertilizer and pH

Soil testing can help you determine exactly what type and how much fertilizer is needed for proper growth. Most county extension offices will supply you with information regarding the cost and procedure of soil testing. If you haven't tested your soil, the Ohio State University Extension recommends applying a well balanced fertilizer, like 5-10-10 at a rate of 3 pounds per 100 square feet of garden row prior to planting. Lettuce grows best in soil with a pH of around 6.0 to 6.5. An application of agricultural lime may be necessary to lower the pH level of alkaline soil.

Culture

Lettuce requires frequent, light watering for good leaf development. Keep the soil moist, but not soaking. Symptoms of over-watering in lettuce include leaves that are wilted or have brown, dry edges. Hand pull or lightly hoe weeds to ensure you don't damage your romaine's shallow roots. Lettuce is a cool weather crop and may go to seed before it is fully grown if temperatures become too hot. Supplying shade for young plants may help them fully develop in hot weather.

Varieties

Romaine lettuce, also known as cos, comes in several different varieties. Plant a few different types in succession to ensure a varied and long growing season. Cimmaron is a variety with deep, red leaves. Green Towers is an early maturing variety with large, dark green leaves. Paris Island fairs better than most in warmer temperatures.

ReferencesOhio State University Extension: Growing Lettuce in the Home GardenUniversity of Illinois Extension: LettuceUK Cooperative Extension: Romaine LettucePhoto Credit NA/PhotoObjects.net/Getty ImagesRead Next:

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