Lettuce is a cool-season plant, you can get the mature lettuce before the temperature increases. The interesting thing is that lettuce is a great vegetable that requires little maintenance and is highly productive.
It is one of the carefree crops that’s why gardeners like to grow it. Most of the varieties mature within 45-55 days. But some varieties are ready to harvest after 65-80 days, it depends on the variety.
In this article, we are going to discuss how to grow lettuce in plastic bottles. If you have windows where your lettuce plants get full sun exposure then you can easily try to grow lettuce in plastic bottles.
This is a cheap way of growing plants and you can find material at home without any effort for this project. At your home, you have water bottles, soda bottles, and fruit smoothie bottles.
There are different kinds of plastic bottles from 24oz up to 2 liters and beyond. It is totally up to you which size is perfect for your plants. Like size, you can find different shapes of bottles such as round, long, and square.
Smaller bottles need 3 inches of a windowsill and if you are using larger bottles then they require 5 inches. You should choose the size of the bottle according to your windowsill. Another great option is that you can hang these bottles by using the vertical space of the window
LETTUCE PLANTING TIME THROUGH THE YEAR
As is mentioned above lettuce likes to grow in cold weather and you must harvest it before the temperature rises and the weather becomes warm. If you are living in a mild-winter region then you can grow lettuce through winter into spring.
BEST LETTUCE VARIETIES TO GROW
There are different varieties of lettuce available, you should choose that variety which is according to your climate. Here we are going to describe some important varieties of lettuce.
It is the most common available lettuce variety. The leaves are light green from inside and you will find the loose, soft, and ruffled green from outside. It has very crisp leaves and a tender texture.
You can harvest the entire head or just remove some outside leaves. The leaves of butter lettuce can be used in salad dressings. This variety can mature in 55 to 75 days.
LITTLE GEMS LETTUCE
This variety has a delicate flavor and you can enjoy the leaves with radishes and steamed asparagus.
ROMAINE OR COS
This variety is 8 to 10inches or 20 to 25cm tall and has spoon-shaped and tightly folded leaves. The color of the leaves are medium green from the outside and you will find greenish-white inside. The leaves are crunchy and sweet.
CRISPHEAD OR ICEBERG
Iceberg has a tight head with crispy leaves. You can’t grow this variety easily as it can’t tolerate summer heat or water stress. This variety matures in 70 to 80 days.
SUMMER CRISP, FRENCH CRISP OR BATAVIAN
This is a large variety that is resistant to bolting. This variety can be harvested within 55 to 60 days. The outer leaves are thick and crispy. The heart of lettuce is sweet, juicy, and a bit nutty.
LOOSELEAF, LEAF, CUTTING OR BUNCHING
This variety is very easy to maintain, looseleaf has no head or heart. You can harvest whole or by leaves when the lettuce is mature. This variety is slow bolting and heat resistant. The maturity time of this variety is 40-45 days.
HOW TO GROW LETTUCE IN PLASTIC BOTTLES?
If you are facing the problem of shortage of space then the best way of growing lettuce is in plastic bottles There are two methods of growing lettuce in plastic bottles.
In the first method, we will learn how to grow lettuce without soil, and in the second method, we will discuss how to grow lettuce in plastic bottles with soil.
The things you need for growing lettuce without soil are
- A plastic bottle: The size of the bottle can be 2 liters but a smaller bottle is better for the lettuce. The sides of the bottle must be straight and smooth.
- A shower scrunchie: This is a mesh shower sponge thingies. The mesh is about 10 feet which is a hollow tube of mesh.
- Knife: A sharp knife is needed to do this project.
- Aluminum foil: Direct sunlight causes a problem in the form of algae. The aluminum foil protects the roots from sunlight. As you know if you grow plants in the soil then there is no danger of direct sunlight but without soil, there is direct exposure of sun to the roots which is not good for the roots.
- Seeds: Buy high-quality seeds so you will get healthier plants. As we are growing lettuce because it is a fast-growing plant, buy one packet of seeds because it contains enough seeds and there is no need to buy more.
- First, you have to prepare seedlings in plastic egg cartons or any other seedling tray. Fill the cartons with soilless seed starting mix. When real leaves will emerge you can transplant them to the plastic bottle.
- Take the bottle and cut the top of the bottle. Make a dime size air hole, it will help to add or remove water and provide airflow.
- In the cap of the bottle make a hole with the help of a sharp knife.
- Now, this is the time to use mesh. First, you should stretch the mesh over the mouth of the bottle then screw up the cap on it which has a large hole. Cut the extra mesh. In this way, your plant will get support and not fall in the water.
- Now you need a long tube of mesh. Tie a knot at one end. The size of the mesh is about 6 inches then your mesh looks like a bag that has a knot at the bottom.
- Now set all the things together. Place the mesh bag around the upside-down funnel. Remember your mesh hangs loosely about an inch below the funnel. There should be a space between the mesh and funnel.
- When everything is set then it is time to pour some water at the mouth of the funnel.
- Now take your seedling with a little seed starter and place it into the funnel. Gently press it down into the cap of the bottle. If you feel any trouble fitting it then remove excess soil.
- Pour little water into the funnel. This will drain through the mouth of the bottle.
- If you want to prevent roots from the light, cover the area below the water level with a foil. It will help to block the light.
- When the roots start consuming water. The level of water in the bottle will drop, you will not need to add water because the enclosed air space above the water level is extremely humid. So the roots will not dry out. If you see the water level drops very fast then you can add little water to the bottle. The one-third part of the root should be exposed.
- When the plants grow big then they will consume a large amount of water. The roots can suck half an inch of water per day so you should keep an eye on the level of water. If the roots of the plant dry then your plant will wilt and die. You should check the roots of the plant and touch the water.
- You should rotate the bottle so each side of the bottle will get even sunlight.
- The roots of the lettuce plant should be submerged until the roots start growing through the mesh bag.
- There is a danger of algae if you grow lettuce without soil. It will not kill your plant but deplete the nutrients and slow the growth of the lettuce plant. Make sure the file is tightly wrapped around the bottle.
GROWING LETTUCE IN THE PLASTIC BOTTLE WITH SOIL
As you know lettuce likes to grow in cool weather you can plant it in plastic bottles in early spring or late summer. In summer, the temperature rises, and lettuce becomes bitter.
The size of the bottle is according to your choice. In the previous method, we will discuss in detail the size and shapes of the bottles you can use for growing lettuce. Now we will discuss the method of growing lettuce in plastic bottles with soil step by step.
- Wash the bottle with warm water and a few drops of liquid soap. After rinsing the water, discard the cap.
- Cut the bottle top with a sharp knife. At the bottom make 2-3 holes for drainage.
- Fill the bottom with a lightweight potting mix. Remember, garden soil is too heavy so it can become compacted please avoid using it. Water the potting mix until the water drained out from the holes you made at the bottom of the bottles.
- After making ready soil now you can sow the seeds in the bottle.
- Choose a sunny spot for placing your bottle so it will get proper sun exposure.
- Rotate a bottle so each side of the bottle will get proper sunlight.
- After some time you will see the seedlings emerging from the seeds.
- Harvest the lettuce leaves as soon as it grows large enough. You can harvest the lettuce anytime when true leaves form. Try to harvest early than late, if the lettuce grows too long then it will become bitter and tough. You can also harvest the outer leaves when needed. In this way, you can get lettuce production of lettuce for a long time. The best time of harvesting the lettuce is morning so you will get crispy, sweet, and moist leaves.