BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
As the staple ingredient of various kinds of salads, soups, sandwiches, and wraps, lettuce has become a go-to dish for people who are looking to lead a healthy lifestyle or just want to get their fill of leafy greens for the day.
Lettuce (Lactuca sativa), locally known as letsugas, is an annual that can vary greatly in size, shape, and leaf type, especially depending on the variety, but generally, the leaves form a dense head or loose rosette.
It contains vitamins A and K, along with other nutrients such as folate and protein.
But apart from being a favorite of health-conscious individuals, urban gardeners also like lettuce because it’s easy to grow. Some of the popular varieties grown are looseleaf, romaine, and crisphead.
Here’s how to start growing lettuce at home:
First, prepare the lettuce seeds. Soak the seeds in a small amount of fish amino acid (FAA) for one minute, removing and discarding any seeds that rise to the top. Remove the seeds from the FAA solution by passing them through a strainer.
Dry the seeds using tissue.
Next, make the soil media that consists of Takakura compost, carbonized rice hull, and garden soil with a ratio of 1:1:1. Pour in some FAA and mix.
Use the ball squeeze test to check the soil’s moisture. To do the test, take a fistful of the soil media and squeeze. If the soil has the right amount of moisture, it should produce one drop of water when squeezed.
Transfer the soil media to a seedling tray and place two lettuce seeds per hole. A seedling tray is encouraged since it makes the transplanting process easy. Afterward, put the tray in a shaded area and remember to water it everyday.
After 10 to 14 days, the seedlings can be transplanted to bigger containers. During warm seasons, transfer the lettuce seedlings either during the day or afternoon to avoid stressing the plants.
Place the transplanted seedlings in an elevated area that receives direct sunlight. Frequent watering is required.
Within two months, or 45 to 60 days, after transplanting, the lettuce is ready for harvesting. Do this early in the day to keep the leaves from wilting.
While the lettuce plants grow, add takakura compost or vermicast as fertilizer. Also remember to spray fermented plant juice (FPJ) once a week to promote healthy growth and increase the plants’ resistance to pests and diseases.
FAA can also be sprayed under the leaves of the lettuce plants.
Pests and diseases
When it comes to lettuce plants, the most common pests and diseases are dapulak, or downy mildew, and semi-looper.
To control these, spray a solution made from 100 grams of crushed chilies and one tablespoon of soap mixed in 16 liters of water.
Consumers need not go to grocery stores and markets to get lettuce for their salads and other healthy snacks. Because aside from having health benefits, lettuce is easy to grow, even in an urban garden.
The topic of how to grow lettuce was discussed on AgriTalk 2021, where the series of webinars focused on how to grow different crops.