by johnah on November 24, 2020
Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is one of the most popular salad greens in the world. It’s a member of the cabbage family and is native to Europe, Asia, Africa and North America. Its leaves are edible when green but they lose their flavor after drying out. They’re commonly used as a side dish or as a garnish for salads. The leafy vegetable has been cultivated since ancient times and it was considered a delicacy during Roman Empire era. Today, romaine lettuce is grown throughout the world.
The plant grows best in well drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Romaine lettuce requires a warm season and cool season.
In the spring, it needs moist soil and good air circulation to thrive. During winter months, it needs dry soil and cold temperatures so that its leaves don’t turn brown. The plants are not frost tender though because they have hard outer leaves which protect them from freezing temperatures.
Growing Romaine Lettuce From Seed
Romaine lettuce seeds germinate best if planted in a sunny location where they’ll get at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. If your area doesn’t receive much sun, then you need to plant them indoors.
The best time to sow the seeds is between March and May when temperatures will be above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. For optimal results, place the seeds in a glass of water and leave them there until they sprout roots. Then, transplant them into small pots so that they can grow healthy and strong.
Planting the seeds directly in the ground is also an option but you’ll need to place them in a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. You may also want to cover the area where you’re planting them with black plastic two weeks before you intend to plant the seeds.
This will warm up the soil so that your seedlings don’t get chilled.
Another option is to start your seeds indoors in pots and transplant them into the ground when the weather is right. You can start the seeds in peat pots or plastic cups.
Just remember to prick a hole in the bottom so that they don’t drown when it rains.
If you want a continuous supply of romaine, plant every two weeks during the growing season. That way, you’ll have lettuce year round.
How To Grow A Romaine Lettuce Plant
Planting romaine lettuce is easy and the plant is quite resilient. It will grow in both alkaline and acidic soil so it’s a good choice for people that have hard water.
The plant prefers full sun but it can also grow in partly sunny locations. It grows best in moist soil but it can also tolerate dry conditions.
Allow the soil to dry out a bit before you water it again. If you’re growing your plants in pots, then you’ll need to water them more frequently since the soil will dry out faster.
It’s best to use a soilless mix for potted plants.
Lettuce grows best between 60 and 75 degree Fahrenheit so if your temperatures are above or below this range, then the lettuce will grow slower. The plant grows fastest when the temperatures are between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The ideal temperature for the plant to produce the best tasting leaves is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
The soil should be well drained so that it doesn’t get waterlogged. It’s not a good idea to plant in a low-lying area that may flood during heavy rainstorms.
The leaves of the lettuce will turn brown and going to be uneatable if they endure too much humidity or wetness. If this happens, you can trim off the affected leaves and eat the rest of the head.
You can harvest the leaves as soon as they are big enough to eat or you can allow them to grow to full size. To harvest, simply pluck the outer leaves and eat them.
New leaves will keep growing so you can keep doing this again and again until the plant finally goes to seed. At this point, you should pull it out and plant a new lettuce in that spot.
Harvesting the leaves also keeps the plant from going to seed too early. You can harvest the outer leaves as soon as they are big enough to eat but you should be careful not to remove too many so that the center of the plant is exposed.
Lettuce plants need protection from the sun so if they get too hot, they’ll stop producing leaves. You can also cover them with a plastic bottle or sheet propped up with a rock or stake to keep them shaded.
Lettuce is prone to some pests like cutworms, aphids and flea beetles but the best way to prevent these pests from eating your plants is to create a barrier. You can do this by placing a row of loose gravel or sand around your plants.
This barrier will keep the pests from reaching your plants so you won’t have to use chemicals.
If you do find that pests have gotten to your plants, there are several products that you can use that won’t harm humans or other animals when used as directed. One of these is diatomaceous earth which is made up of the shells of tiny sea creatures.
It will kill any crawling insect that comes in contact with it. Just be careful where you dust it since it’s harmful if you inhale it.
Caterpillars are another problem since they can strip your plants of all their leaves in just one day. The best way to prevent this is to cover the plants with bird netting.
You should remove the netting after the threat has passed since it will also keep the bees from pollinating the flowers.
If you’ve planted your seeds directly into the ground, then weeds will probably be a problem since you’ll have to hoe and pull them by hand. A mulch, such as grass clippings or spoiled hay, can also be placed around your plants to prevent weeds from growing too.
You can use fish products to help kill off the insects and keep the area around the plants nice and clean. Another advantage of using fish for your garden is that it’s a natural fertilizer and won’t harm humans or animals when used properly.
Just be sure you don’t get any of the chemicals on your plants since they will burn the leaves.
If you prefer not to have your garden in your backyard, there are other options available. You can have a container garden that will grow nicely on a windowsill inside your house.
It’s amazing what you can do with a few terra cotta pots and some seeds. You can even have an indoor garden in a sunny window by growing plants in individual cups with drainage holes poked in the bottom. You just have to be careful when watering these plants since you don’t want to drown them.
If you really want to get into gardening, then you should look into getting a greenhouse. Building one yourself is fairly easy but they can be expensive.
An easier and cheaper way to go is to buy a plastic garden shed. They’re fairly inexpensive and are already set up so all you have to do is put it where you want it and start planting.
Before you rush out and buy a bunch of seed packets, you’ll need to do a little research on what grows well in your area. You can always go to the library and look in the gardening section for books on the subject.
There are also some great websites with advice on what to grow based on your climate and conditions.
You may find that you like growing fruits and vegetables so much that you start looking for ways to make more room in your yard to plant more things. One way to do this is to build a greenhouse.
There are two different types of greenhouses:
The first type is the traditional glass version. These can be very expensive and need to be kept very clean since they tend to trap heat and moisture against the plants.
You will also need to learn about something called passive solar heating in order to keep these greenhouses warm enough so that you can grow plants year round.
The second type is a plastic greenhouse that’s made to be very easy to set up. It comes with its own frame and flexible plastic cover.
The frame is aluminum and is shaped like an octagon with the longest side running east to west. The cover is made of heavy gauge plastic and has a zipper down the middle so it opens up down the middle like a giant sheet cake. These are very easy to set up but you will need a place indoors to store it when it’s not being used.
After you’ve got your plants growing, and you want to try your hand at raising a few animals, then you’ll need to build a small barn. Cows and pigs can be kept in fairly small areas if they have shelter and enough food.
You won’t need to build anything fancy for them. A simple wood frame with wire fencing will do just fine. Just make sure you put a wood floor down before putting down the fencing since the animals could fall through the fencing if the floor isn’t sturdy enough.
You can build a much simpler structure for chickens and sheep. All they really need is a place to roost at night and protection from predators.
You can easily build a chicken coop by using wood framing and covering it with chicken wire. For the sheep, you can just put up some fencing to keep them in a particular area and put a tarp over part of it to give them shade.
The only other thing you’ll need to build is a toolshed for your equipment. You don’t need to go overboard on this since all you really need is some shelves and a place to hang your tools.
You might also want to put in electricity since you’ll need it for things like a work light.
This all may sound like a lot of work but as you get more experienced at it, it will all become second nature. Soon you’ll hardly think about all the planning that goes into it as you’ll be too busy working on the details.
Now that we’ve gone over some ideas for your garden and farm, let’s talk money. Building all this stuff is not going to be cheap.
You’ll need to buy various types of seed, fertilizer, farm equipment, and animals. The good thing is you can acquire a lot of it used and you may even already have some of the stuff around the house.
Your first major expense is going to be land. You’re probably going to have to buy most of it unless you already own your own property.
If you don’t own your own home, then you will either have to buy the land or rent it from someone else.
Gardening space can be a little different. If you’re confined to just a small area then you probably won’t need much in the way of land.
You can easily till up a small patch in your backyard and plant a few tomato plants or some herbs for cooking. If you want to raise larger vegetables or flowers, then you might need more space. If you’re really ambitious, then you can till up more ground and expand your garden each year as your skills improve and your interest grows.
For your farm animals, you can start small. As we mentioned before, pigs and chickens are easy to raise and they don’t take up too much room.
You can easily keep a few pigs in a simple fenced in area and a few chickens will do fine if you give them a small coop with some grass to peck at.
Cows are a little more work as they need more space and will eventually grow quite large. If you want to raise dairy cows, then you’ll need to acquire a large amount of Holstein breed calves and keep them isolated from the rest of your farm animals until they grow up.
Beef cattle can be raised but it’s a lot of work since you’ll have to wait until they’re full grown before slaughtering any for meat.
Sheep are fairly easy to raise and you can use them for both wool and meat production. They only eat a little bit and don’t take up too much room so they’re an excellent choice for small farms or large gardens.
Pigs and goats can be raised either for milk or meat. Goats consume less food than cows but will still need a lot of space to run around in.
They can either be kept in a pasture or allowed to roam around your yard. To keep them from wandering off, you may want to build an electric fence. If you’re going to keep yours for milk then you’re going to need a lot of female goats since they only lactate after they’ve given birth.
Once you’ve chosen what animals you want, then you’ll need to figure out how much land you’ll need to support them and work out from there.
One last consideration you may need to think about is whether or not you want to pursue any farming related careers. Just like any other job, you can get paid to do it.
If this is something that interests you then you’ll need to either continue your education or teach yourself the best you can. It will take a lot of determination but if being a farmer is what you really want to do with your life, then it can be done.
Whatever animals you choose, and whether or not you want to pursue a career as a farmer, the first thing you’re going to need is land. The more land you have the more animals you can have.
The more animals you have, the more waste they’ll produce. You can use this to your advantage in several ways. One way is by using animal manure as fertilizer for your crops. Manure is a great organic fertilizer and it’s completely free. All you need to do is make sure that your animals aren’t standing in their own waste. You can also collect some of the urine which can also be used as fertilizer.
This system works well for small gardens and gardeners but if you’re planning on having a few dozen or more animals, you’ll probably want to look into something a little more automated. By building a Gambier Rotary Extractor, you can automatically gather the animal waste and have it ready for use as fertilizer.
It cost a little more copper to build but it’ll be well worth it if you have a lot of livestock or plan to in the future.
Building one isn’t too difficult. You just need to make sure you get ahold of a few special items before you begin.
Most notable is a sawmill which can be used to cut up wood into the right planking. You’ll also need an anvil to make the metal parts and something to power it with. Depending on the size you build, this machine can take up quite a bit of land so its best to plan out where you want to put it before you start construction.
You may have gathered from talking with people in town or by watching others that manual labor isn’t for you.
If you’ve got the money, why not hire it done?
One simple way of getting some of the work done is to pay someone else to take care of your animals for you. If you just need some of the waste taken care of, such as pig or chicken manure, then just leaving it in piles around your property should attract the right folks. Just be sure you get permission from the mayor first or someone may just accuse you of being a public nuisance.
If you want to be a bit more organized about the whole thing, you can always build a trading post and hire workers to take care of the animals while you focus on selling their produce and other goods.
The most important thing to remember if you decide to go this route is to make sure you have a good reputation. This will attract the type of workers who know that they’re going to be paid on time and that you’ll provide a safe working environment.
You can try hiring Greusim’s Guardians for this job but you’ll most likely find that they’re unreliable as they tend to disappear for days at a time. This is especially true if there’s some big happening in the nearby town such as a big fight or a traveling merchant.
The Hermod worker you have hired don’t tend to stick around as long either but at least they show up everyday. You’re not quite sure how they can keep up with their caffeine intake but it seems to help.
Whatever you decide to do, just make sure that if you build a trading post that you build it somewhere close enough to your farm that you can keep an eye on things and aren’t too far away in case of trouble.
You’re just about finished here at the inn and you’ve got some decisions to make concerning your future.
You’ve come a long way since you left home with nothing but the clothes on your back and a few gold coins in your pocket. You think back to all the things you’ve experienced and wonder if you could have done anything differently to change the course of events that occurred.
Of course you could always travel back in time and try to do it all over again but that wouldn’t be much of a game would it?
Besides, it’s time to move on to something new.
So with that in mind you decide to put this part of your life behind you and move on to the next chapter in your life.
You wonder what lies in store for you.
Where will you go? What will you do? Who will you meet?
So many things…
Of course it’s possible you might not live long enough to even find out. Still, no use in worrying about such things now.
You’ll face whatever comes when it happens.
Such is the life of a drifter and an adventurer.
Sources & references used in this article:
Outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157: H7 associated with romaine lettuce consumption, 2011 by RB Slayton, G Turabelidze, SD Bennett… – PLoS …, 2013 – journals.plos.org
The effect of phosphorus and root zone temperature on anthocyanin of red romaine lettuce by MZ Islam, YT Lee, MA Mele, IL Choi, HM Kang – Agronomy, 2019 – mdpi.com
Optimization of LED lighting and quality evaluation of romaine lettuce grown in an innovative indoor cultivation system by D Loconsole, G Cocetta, P Santoro, A Ferrante – Sustainability, 2019 – mdpi.com
Real-time growth rate and fresh weight estimation for little gem romaine lettuce in aquaponic grow beds by A Reyes-Yanes, P Martinez, R Ahmad – Computers and Electronics in …, 2020 – Elsevier
Salinity effects on enzymatic browning and antioxidant capacity of fresh-cut baby Romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa L. cv. Duende) by M Chisari, A Todaro, RN Barbagallo, G Spagna – Food chemistry, 2010 – Elsevier
Salt in irrigation water affects the nutritional and visual properties of romaine lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) by HJ Kim, JM Fonseca, JH Choi, C Kubota… – Journal of Agricultural …, 2008 – ACS Publications
Zinc fertilization plus liming to reduce cadmium uptake by Romaine lettuce on Cd-mineralized Lockwood soil by RL Chaney, CE Green, HA Ajwa, RF Smith – 2009 – escholarship.org