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Can You Grow Lettuce in a Garage?
Be it a salad, sandwich or a wrap, you almost always need some lettuce. You can also sauté, braise, sear, grill or boil lettuce to make tasty and healthy dishes. The crunchiness of really fresh raw lettuce is what makes the difference. So, can you grow lettuce indoors, in your garage?
You can grow lettuce in your garage under grow lights. Lettuce is perfect for growing in a garage as it grows really fast. Growing lettuce in a garage hydroponic system is even better as it grows even faster.
There are many varieties of lettuce but Iceberg lettuce and Romaine lettuce are the most popular varieties. Butterhead lettuce, Leaf lettuce and Stem lettuce are other common varieties
Romaine lettuce and Butterhead lettuce grow very fast in an hydroponic system. They can be harvested in just 3 – 4 weeks. Iceberg lettuce takes around 6 – 8 weeks before it can be harvested.
Grow lettuce in a garage hydroponic system and you can have an abundant supply of fresh lettuce all year round, irrespective of the season.
How to Grow Lettuce in Containers from Seeds in a Garage?
Prepare the Potting Mix
For growing lettuce from seeds in a garage it is better to buy the potting mix as they are not too dense and have the required amount of nutrients already in it. Buy a good quality potting mix such as Miracle-Gro Performance Organics All Purpose Container Mix.
Open the pouch and pour the mix in a large plastic tub or bucket. Add water and knead with your hands or mix with a trowel. Fill up the containers till each is around ¾ th to ⅔ rd full.
Use Wide Shallow Pots
Lettuce does not have very deep roots so a container that is 14” – 20” long, 10” – 14” wide and around 6” deep will work just fine. You could use round pots as well, but rectangular ones take less space on a shelf. Drill a few holes in the bottom for drainage!
It is a good idea to keep the containers on a sturdy 3 tier shelf with wheels, such as, Finnhomy 3 Tier Heavy Duty Commercial Grade Utility Cart. You can then move them around if required.
Planting the Seeds
Poke holes in the potting mix with your finger. The holes should be around ½” deep and 4” – 6” apart from each other. Plant 2 – 3 seeds in each hole and cover with potting mix. Water the container and place them under grow lights.
Lettuce Does Not Need Too Much Light
Lettuce is a cool weather plant and does not need high exposure to bright sunlight or grow light. Usually 4 – 6 hours of exposure per day is sufficient.
You can grow lettuce indoors in the garage under T5 Fluorescent grow lights such as HYDRO PLANET T5 Grow Lights. Choose the size that works for your set up.
Use a mix of cool white and warm white fluorescent tubes to mimic natural sunlight. Keep the lights at least 6” above the lettuce and turn them on for only 4 – 6 hours a day.
But Lettuce Does Need a Fair Amount of Water
Lettuce is 95% water, so it is natural that it needs a fair amount of water to grow. You should water the lettuce plants in the container every alternate day or whenever the potting mix is dry.
Of course, don’t go overboard on the watering and make the soil soggy!
Fertilize Every 2 Weeks
In addition to light and water the lettuce plant needs sufficient nutrition in the form of correctly formulated fertilizer. A balanced all purpose fertilizer works fine for lettuce plants. Apply the fertilizer on the potting mix in the container every 2 weeks.
I recommend using a general purpose nutrient such as Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food.
Harvest Lettuce The Right Way
Depending on the variety, lettuce grown in the garage will be ready for harvesting in 4 – 8 weeks.
How to harvest lettuce so that it continues to supply you with fresh leaves for a long time is covered later in the post.
How to Grow Lettuce in a Garage Hydroponic System
You can grow lettuce in a garage hydroponic system. It is not only easier, it is faster and more productive.
How to Get the Seeds to Germinate?
The lettuce seeds need to be placed in a medium for them to germinate. There are quite a few options such as rockwool, coir fiber, river rock, pine shavings, etc. Rockwool is a popular and good option as it is sterile.
Take 2” cubes of rockwool and soak them in a shallow water tray till they are completely wet. Insert a couple of lettuce seeds in the center of the rockwool cube, using a toothpick.
Leave the cubes in the tray of water, cover them loosely with a lid or cling film to keep the moisture in. The lettuce seeds typically germinate in 7 to 15 days. You can speed up the process by
- Keeping the tray where it will get lots of sunlight
- Keeping the tray such that the soil remains moist & cool (70 deg F)
- Pre-soaking the seeds overnight before planting
How to Transplant Sprouts to a Hydroponic System?
Once the lettuce seeds have sprouted it is time to transplant them to 2” net pots. Place the rockwool cubes in the net pots, which can then be placed in the garage hydroponic system.
What is the Best Hydroponic System for Growing Lettuce Indoors?
There are 7 different types of hydroponic systems that can be used to grow vegetables & herbs in your garage. Of these the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) Hydroponic System or the Ebb & Flow Hydroponic System are great if you are already into hydroponics.
However if you are a beginner, ease of use and smaller footprint of the Deep Water Culture (DWC) Hydroponic System makes it a better choice for growing lettuce in a garage.
For more details on how to grow lettuce in a Deep Water Culture (DWC) hydroponic system, check out the article by Hydroponic Way.
How to Harvest Hydroponic Lettuce?
Depending on the variety, lettuce is ready for harvesting within 4 – 6 weeks. To get a continuous supply of lettuce for a long period of time:
- Pick the outer leaves of a plant only. The inner leaves will grow to replace them
- Pick from different plants sequentially so that each plant gets time to regrow
Lettuce is an easy leafy green to grow in your garage. It grows fast and needs little care. Getting a bountiful harvest of lettuce does not require a lot of space. Lack of natural light can be taken care of by growing lettuce under grow lights. Using hydroponics to grow lettuce in your garage is an even better alternative!
Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and useful.