Lettuce is an indispensable vegetable in the kitchen: if we want fresh and crunchy salads it is a choice that will surely not leave us disappointed.
Its cultivation is very simple and with few and essential precautions we can have collected for most of the year
It is an annual plant with more or less broad leaves, ovoid or elongated and depending on the variety has different shades of color from green to yellowish or red. The lettuces can be divided into:
· Lettuce lettuce also known as a ball on the market throughout the year.
· Roman lettuces with wider, non-overlapping leaves.
· Cutting lettuces also known as "Lattughino" with leaves always spread. The plant is rich in tender leaves, which can be cut two or three times during the vegetative cycle because they reform quickly.
Characteristics of lettuce
Lettuce is an annual (sometimes cultivated as a biennial) belonging to the Compositae family. It has a rather short taproot root surrounded by small rootlets. The leaves can be smooth or curly, round or oval. Colors range from green to reddish. In some varieties (for example those with a hood) the central part forms a globose head with a heart of lighter, very tender and crunchy leaves.
In particular, the botanical cycle includes two phases.
In the first, vegetative, the leaves grow and, depending on the variety, there may be a greater or less embryonic level. This is the marketing (and consumption) stage.
The second phase is instead the reproductive one. From the center emerges a stem bearing the flowers at the top, which will then produce the seeds.
It prefers temperate climates and does not tolerate intense cold and dry heat.
The lettuces they can be grown with good results in temperate climates and seasons. They are in fact very sensitive to excessive cold and heat. Another factor to keep in mind is related to daylight hours and daylight hours.
Extreme temperatures and too much light (for example in the months of July and August) induce a precocious seed mount of the plants, with negative results of the crop.
The ideal is therefore to cultivate these plants from the end of winter until June (or late May for the southern regions) devoting themselves to other leafy vegetables in the height of summer. You can go back to lettuce lettuce from the beginning of September.
The soil in general must be loose and well worked, since the lettuce has a modest root system that expands mainly in the surface layer of the soil.
However, to go into more detail, in this respect the various types of lettuce have significantly different needs.
The cap lettuce (closed or open) grows well in any soil and is also well suited to poor and dry ones. It is therefore a good choice for everyone.
The Roman variety, on the other hand, is more demanding. It grows well only if the soil has a good mixture and is rich in organic substance. So the silty or slightly clayey soils, capable of retaining water, are ideal without creating excessive stagnation.
We can add that the ideal pH is neutral, but they tolerate subacid substrates rather well.
Seeding and purchasing seedlings
As with almost all vegetables, before starting a crop one wonders whether to buy the seedlings or produce them independently starting from seed.
It is a personal choice. It must however be emphasized that generally the trays for sale at nurseries do not contain less than nine items that will almost certainly be ready for consumption at the same time.
In this way there is the risk, for a family of normal dimensions, of having a huge gap, as well as a waste of land and work.
To always have salads available at the right stage of development the ideal is to make do with a scaled seeding. You can proceed weekly sowing to obtain 4-5 seedlings (depending on our needs). Once the process has started, we will always have elements available to replace the ones just taken.
From March to November
|Sow on lettorino||All the year|
|Planting in a greenhouse||From October to early March|
|Planting in the open field||From late March to mid-October|
|Harvest in a greenhouse||From November to April|
|Harvest in the open field||From April to early November|
How to sow?
The sowing, depending on the climatic conditions and the cultivation technique, can be carried out in the seedbed or directly in the open field.
In the first case we will equip ourselves with alveolar trays by inserting in each alveolus two seeds. We cover with agricultural vermiculite or with a layer of no more than 1 cm of soil. Vaporize abundantly and place in a small shutter (or cover with plastic film). The ideal is a luminous location, but not with direct sun. Let us remember to air abundantly at least once a day to avoid the onset of rot.
For this type of sowing it takes about 1 g of seed per square meter.
The transplant is carried out after about 1 month: the plants must reach 6 cm in height. The distance on the row and between the rows will be 30 cm. If we are near winter it is good to bury the collar. In other seasons it is better to leave it slightly uncovered to avoid the onset of diseases.
If instead we want to sow in the ground plane we can do it by creating postarelles of 3-5 seeds (also in this case about 30 cm in the row and between the rows).
Otherwise you can create grooves by distributing about 12 seeds every thirty centimeters.
In all cases, once germination has taken place, the thinning should proceed, leaving only the most vigorous individuals. We will need about 6 g of seed every 10 square meters.
Lettuce cultivation is quite simple and can all be done in a family vegetable garden, but even large containers on a balcony may be sufficient.
LETTUCE IN BRIEF
Type of plant
Annual or biennial, herbaceous
|Scientific name||Lactuca sativa, fam. compositae|
|Height at maturity / width at maturity||From 15 to 40 cm / from 20 to 50 cm|
|Commitment to cultivation||Medium-high|
|Resistance to cold||moderate|
|Insects and adversity||Snails, aphids, downy mildew, mosaic|
|Ground||Rich in organic material, clayey or silty, neutral or subacid|
|Distance on the row||30-40 cm|
|Distance between rows||30-40 cm|
|Germination days / temperature||6-7 / minimum 5 ° C|