Aloha Hawaii Home & Garden Network,
One of the many great things about living in Hawaii is creating a home garden. Almost everything grows well in Hawaii and, let’s face it, vegetables are expensive here. Take lettuce. The average cost of a head of lettuce is $2.49; $3-plus for organic. Why not grow your own? The same $2.49 will cover the cost a package of seeds which will yield much more than one head of lettuce.
It’s easy to create a healthy, organic, lettuce, home garden. Lettuce will grow any time of the year and you don’t need a lot of land. Sure, it does great in a backyard garden but it grows wonderfully in containers of all sizes. In fact, I’ve grown lettuce “in the ground” and in containers. I prefer containers. They’re perfect for a home garden for any size Hawaii home; even for a condo lanai. Containers are great for small spaces and create a barrier to ground pests. They can be placed in convenient locations making it easy to access and harvest. You can get creative with your containers. Just make sure there is at least one ¾ inch hole in the bottom for proper drainage.
I use a wide variety of organic seeds. Romaine, arugula and mixed lettuce are all good choices for an organic lettuce home garden. Consider mixing several types of lettuce in one container and staggering the planting. This results in a more consistent yield.
Because lettuce does not have deep roots, the soil in your container only needs to be about 4 or 5 inches deep. I buy the inexpensive garden soil and it works fine for a home garden. After the soil goes in, create rows about ¼ inch deep and 2 inches apart. Next, pour the seeds in and cover with soil. We get a decent amount of rain in Hawaii, so I only water lightly on the days with no rain but you want to keep the soil most at all times though not soggy. You’ll need to water more if you notice wilting leaves. Because Hawaii gets a nice cloud cover, the containers can be kept in the sun. And remember, no pesticides in organic gardening.
It is important to harvest before the lettuce becomes bitter. Romaine can be harvested when leaves are approximately 8 inches while mixed lettuce should be harvested when the leaves are 4 inches. Arugula is bitter to begin with, so harvest baby leaves approximately 2 inches. It is important to keep an eye on your garden to see when the leaves are ready. I notice that my lettuce is ready to harvest in approximately 20 to 30 days in my home garden.
When harvesting, take the outer leaves first. This allows the younger leaves found in the middle of the plant to continue to grow. Some varieties like romaine and butterhead can be cut approximately ½ an inch from the roots. The plants will not last forever but the great advantage of an organic lettuce home garden is that it will provide you more lettuce than just one store bought head of lettuce.
So with a minimal investment of seeds, garden soil and a reusable container, you can produce enough lettuce from your home garden for your family and friends. And if you’ve seen the cost of organic produce these days, that can be a big savings over time.