Lettuce should be planted when the moon is in the 1st Quarter (i.e. waxing) and in one of the next Zodiac Signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces, Libra, Taurus. Planting by the phases of the moon is a system of farming as old as agriculture and culture.
Planting and Culture
Almost any fairly good garden soil that is well drained and not too acid is acceptable for lettuce. The only real secret about developing fine plants is to keep them growing quickly. Rapid growth demands plenty of moisture plus plenty of pure plant nutrients. Mature compost humus or well-rotted manure ought to be dug in along the row until the seed is sown. In transplanting, a generous number of organic humus ought to be worked into the hole until the plant is set out.
Wild lettuce favors a temperate climate and its cultivated descendants obviously flourish best during cool weather, although a few loose-leafed breeds are appreciated for their ability to grow through summer heat.
Heading lettuce might be implanted to head-up either through the first summer or the autumn. For the first crop the seed should be sown about 1/4 inch deep in flats or similar containers and put in a sunny window or a cold frame about the beginning of March. The young plants should be prepared to set out early in April. In the apartments, the seed should be sown and the seedlings thinned just when the leaves touch. Probably no fault is much more universal than sowing lettuce seed too thickly.
For the spring harvest, start seed indoors in flats or pots in a bright, cool (50 to 60°F. [10 into 15.56’C.]) location. Or, sow seed out in a hotbed or cold period, about four to six weeks prior to the last severe frost. One seed package will sow a 100-foot row. For an excellent potting mix, sift together 1 part sand, 1 part good loam and one part compost. Keep moist and, once the seedlings have their first pair of true leaves, transplant to plant flats or bands. Gradually harden off the plants by placing them outside during the sunny part of the day.
Setting out the cheque very early is vital. In actuality, some anglers make a practice of sowing their carrot seed in the autumn in a carefully prepared location. The seedlings become rather large before severe frost. As cold weather approaches, the seedlings are coated with a gradually deepened coating of loose straw, leaves, twigs, or other substances. Under this, the tiny plants survive the winter readily and the gardener has a heavy supply of hardy, very early seedlings upon which to draw.
In setting out the transplants, set them about 15 inches apart in the row in rows about two feet apart. When seed is sown directly into the garden, the seedlings should be thinned to endure at least a foot apart to reduce overcrowding.
In the early stages of growth the plant has a bunch of shallow feeding rootlets. This condition makes it perfect for transplanting however, while small, which makes it a simple victim of weeds. A light mulching of compost sifted around the plants will do much to keep down weedy growth and afterwards will provide easily available plant nutrients.
Lettuce plants won’t do their best unless they have a very liberal supply of moisture. Normally the source of rainwater is inadequate and unreliable. It will assist your plants to keep rapid expansion during dry weather if you water them with rainwater that has filtered through a container carrying a quantity of fertile compost.
It might be that for one of several reasons your plants don’t reach the heading stage ahead of the arrival of warm weather. Many gardeners have experienced this experience.’ The most popular solution to the problem consists in covering the plants in order to give them partial shade. A couple of stakes driven into the ground along the sides of the rows could be used to encourage a period of cheesecloth stretched upon them.
A slightly heavier framework could be made to support a thin layer of adhesive, or a slat roof where the slats are alternated with distances roughly equal to the width of the slats. Any such arrangement that excludes excessive sunlight will normally produce the coolness required to the plants if they are to form satisfactory heads. Some gardeners make excellent use of a partly shaded spot in the backyard as a favorite site for lettuce.
Diseases and Pests
Lettuce rot, which affects the smallest leaves in contact with the soil and then spreads throughout the plant, can be prevented by spreading clean sand over the surface of the soil. Fungus and bacterial infections are best avoided by rotating the harvest. Don’t plant lettuce in the very same rows two years in succession and don’t plant where endive, chicory or dandelion have only grown. All of these are subject to the same diseases.
Insects which cause the greatest harm in fresh lettuce plantings are cutworms and slugs. Cutworms may be outwitted if loose collars of stiff paper are placed on the seedlings when they’re planted. The collars are made about you to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and are broad enough so that when 1/2 inch is buried in the soil an inch or more stays as a barricade above floor.
If slugs are a problem, limestone or wood ash could be sprinkled over the soil around the plants to dissuade them. In a rainy season when slugs are extremely bad, don’t use little baskets or boxes to insure newly planted seedlings. These just act as shelters during the hot part of the day and slugs can occasionally be found by the heaps inside inverted berry boxes. Instead, shade seedlings using a canopy held a foot or more above the mattress.
Pick lettuce in the early morning hours to carry on the crispness it obtained during the cool of the evening. Immediately after being chosen, it needs to be washed thoroughly but as briefly as possible and dried immediately to avoid loss of vitamins. If kept in a closed container in the fridge, it is going to keep its crispness for days.
Loose-leaf forms should be cut off at ground level as well as the roots left in the ground. Later in the season the roots will send up new leaves for another crop.