Romaine lettuce or cos as it’s also called got its name from the Romans if it isn’t evident yet. The romaine lettuce is a variety of lettuce known for its sturdy leaves and heat resistant qualities. It grows into a tall head with rippled leaves. In general, lettuce is a leafy cool weather plant, with a mild flavor and crispy leaves.
The romaine lettuce is a delight in the homes of salad lovers. The romaine lettuce, however, is a significant food borne disease carrier. To ensure they still enjoy this wonderful plant, many people now resort to growing the romaine lettuce they need themselves, right in their backyard.
This way, they can safely monitor the crops and ensure it is free from diseases. That is why I’m making this guide to help you grow and care for your romaine lettuce—a little stop before we dive right in.
Why Everybody Loves Romaine Lettuce
Okay, maybe not everybody, but a lot of people find the romaine lettuce irresistible. But why?
- Rich in minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
- It is rich in vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and beta carotene, which converts into vitamin A in the body.
- Caesar salad ingredients.
- A topping for your sandwich, tacos, and chili
What conditions are right for the romaine plant. Is too much sun ideal? What about water?
- Although romaine lettuce is a heat resistant variety, lettuce, in general, are cold-weather plants and will not do well in hot weather.
- They need moist soil to grow correctly. So, light but consistent watering is key.
- Spacing of about 6 to 18 inches between romaine lettuce plants to ensure they get enough nutrients and space to grow.
- A temperature of 45° to 80°F is ideal
- Romaine lettuce grows well in a soil pH of 6 to 7
When to Plant the Romaine Lettuce
The best time to grow the romaine lettuce is early spring or fall. This will ensure your lettuce avoids the hot summer weather.
How Long Does it Take to Grow?
With the romaine lettuce growing up to 12 inches tall, it takes between 60 to 80 days for it to mature. To ensure it doesn’t take too long to develop from seed; the proper conditions must be met.
Some of the things to do to prepare for your planting include
- Clear and prepare the soil: If you are planting directly in the ground, you need to clear the area.
- Test the pH: As mentioned earlier the ideal pH of the soil for romaine lettuce planting is 6 to 7
- Add fertilizer: In cases where you cannot test the soil, assume the soil is deficient and treat it by adding blood meal and fertilizer.
- Make ridges:Make ridges in rows for the lettuce.
How to Grow the Romaine Lettuce
After you must have prepared your soil, it is time to grow your romaine lettuce. There are two ways to grow romaine lettuce; through the start or the seed. All of which can be purchased from garden stores near you.It is recommended you grow the seeds indoors before transplanting after a few days.
Planting the romaine lettuce is relatively easy and doesn’t require too much expertise. Depending on the medium (in-ground or transplanting), their styles may vary slightly. Make sure you sow when the temperature is low and not at the peak of the day
When you’re planting directly to the ground, sow the seed 1/8 inch deep and about 12 inches apart from each other,you can alternate the rows by planting the green and red varieties in alternating rows for a whimsical garden.
For seeds you intend to transplant, sow them 1 inch deep into the soil and leave for 3 to 4 weeks. Days before transplanting, reduce the water and temperature to harden the soil and make it easier to transplant. Hardened plants can withstand 20°F. Transplant after the last predicted frost date as the transplant cannot survive frost.
Plant every week or two to increase your harvest period.
How to Care for The Romaine Lettuce
Now that you’ve planted your romaine lettuce, it is now a countdown to enjoy this crispy plant. But you cannot just sit back and expect a bountiful harvest. You need to take good care of the lettuce. Here’s how
- By watering
Immediately after planting, you need to properly water the soil and make it moist, not soggy. Whether it is a transplant or seedling, they require enough water to grow. Constant watering also helps to reduce the temperature and prevent bolting (a situation where the lettuce matures too quickly, producing seeds and very few leaves).
Weed your garden after every few weeks when you notice the growth of new weeds. This is essential to ensure your plants get the full nutrients and are not fighting with weeds for space.
- Apply Fertilizer
Apply fertilizer every three weeks to encourage the faster growth of the lettuce and prevent it from getting bitter. Because lettuces are heavy feeders, the soil needs to be replenished now and then especially with nitrogen.
- Use Floating Row Covers
Floating row covers will protect your lettuce from extreme cold and heat. You can also plant them next to taller plants that can provide partial shade for them.
The full lettuce head takes about 60-75 days to mature, but you can start enjoying your romaine lettuce a long time before then by plucking the outer leaves and allowing the inner leaves to grow.
Once the head has matured, you can harvest the full head. Harvest in the morning right after the dew has dried from the leaves to get a crispy and flavored leaf. Cut the lettuce from the ground and rinse in water to remove dirt.
Place the lettuce in a colander and allow it to drip water. Once it is dry, you can wrap in paper towels and leave them in your refrigerator. This will prevent it from getting bitter. Storing the romaine lettuce with apples and bananas will make the leaves decay quickly as they release a natural ripening agent.
Common Romaine Lettuce Pest and Diseases
You wouldn’t want to see your hard work destroyed by pests and diseases, would you? Here are some common pests and diseases that attack the lettuce plant.
The romaine lettuce variety is a heat and bolt resistant variety that is equally comfortable under shade. This means you can grow them under taller plants like trees and bamboos.
I hope with this guide, you’ll be able to grow your romaine lettuce free of diseases and pests.