Growing seven more lettuce varieties in an Aerogarden. Lettucepalooza II begins!

I had such an awesome experience with lettucepalooza I that I decided to fire up my second Aerogarden and start Lettucepalooza II. This time around I really wanted to mix things up, so I decided on 7 unique lettuce varieties. Here is the list of seeds I went with:

Top left – 8 Lolla Rossa seeds from Botanical Interest
Top middle left – 8 Oak Leaf Blend seeds from Botanical Interest
Top middle right – 8 Lettuce Romaine Rouge D’Hiver seeds from Botanical Interest
Top right – 8 Black Seeded Simpson seeds from Botanical Interest
Bottom left – 8 Lettuce Romaine Garnet Rose seeds from Botanical Interest
Bottom middle – 8 Butterhead Speckle seeds from Botanical Interest
Bottom right – 8 Butterhead Marvel Of 4 Seasons seeds from Botanical Interest

Things are coming along very nicely as you can see from the picture below:

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All seven of the seeds germinated, which I attribute to the quality of seeds that are sold by Botanical Interest. I’ve been performing periodic taste tests (quality control, right?), and I’m especially found of the Lolla Rossa, Romaine Rouge D’Hiver and Romaine Garnet Rose varieties. I’m getting really good production from this batch, and I will definitely be adding a couple of the seeds to my final “what grows best in an aerogarden” list.

An update on lettucepalooza #1

I wrote about my first foray into growing lettuce in my Aerogarden a few weeks back. Things have been progressing quite nicely, and the five varieties I mentioned in my previous entry are going bonkers. The Red sails, buttercrunch and butterhead varieties are doing especially well, as we you can see in the following picture (the back top left, front left and bottom left are the three varieties I am referring to):

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For those just tuning into my lettuce growing adventure, here are the varieties I have growing:

Top left – 8 Red sail seeds from Botanical Interests
Top middle left – 8 Tom thumb seeds from Territorial
Top middle right – 8 Baby leaf lettuce mix seeds from Burpee
Top right – 8 Sunset lettuce seeds from Baker Creek
Bottom left – 8 Butter crunch seeds from Territorial
Bottom middle – 8 Red wing lettuce mix seeds from Baker Creek
Bottom right – 8 Green butterhead adriana seeds from Johnny’s

All but the tom thumb and sunset lettuce seeds germinated. The red sails, butter crunch red wing and butterhead varieties have been the best producers so far. I’ve been taking 1/3 of each lettuce plant every 2 – 3 days and when we toss in some greens from our Earthbox we have more than enough to make salads each evening. Using both growing mediums is a great approach, since you can experiment with specific varieties in the Aerogarden, and then grow heavy producing lettuce varieties in Earthboxes.

The mixture we currently have is great, and the salad I made yesterday for lunch was absolutely amazing. Color from the red wing and red sails mixed with butterhead, buttercrunch and baby greens is an absolutely amazing mix! When I do Lettucepalooze #3 I am going to try growing some spicy greens as well as some greens with a bit more texture. This is really the only thing missing at this point.

Growing seven hand picked lettuce varieties in an Aerogarden. Lettucepalooza I begins!

I first learned about the Aerogarden last year while I was watching several videos on the balcony grow youtube channel. For those new to the Aerogarden, they are hydroponic systems for growing vegetables, herbs and flowers indoors. They also provide an excellent system for starting seeds, and from the seed starting videos I’ve seen I’m pretty sure that the unit will pay for itself if you currently rely on nursery’s for transplants (I plan to test out their seed starting system in the spring and will report back on it then).

Being curious about how well the Aerogarden worked I decided to pick up an Aerogarden Extra earlier this year. I started off by growing one of the Aerogarden lettuce seed kits, and that went amazingly well. I got a fair amount of lettuce, and the Aerogarden added a nice decor to one of our boring hallways (it doubles as a night light as well). Eventually my lettuce seeds died off and I decided to purchase a grow your own seed kit and try seven varieties of lettuce from different seed companies. Here are the varieties I started with:

Top left – 8 Red sail seeds from Botanical Interests
Top middle left – 8 Tom thumb seeds from Territorial
Top middle right – 8 Baby leaf lettuce mix seeds from Burpee
Top right – 8 Sunset lettuce seeds from Baker Creek
Bottom left – 8 Butter crunch seeds from Territorial
Bottom middle – 8 Red wing lettuce mix seeds from Baker Creek
Bottom right – 8 Green butterhead adriana seeds from Johnny’s

All of the seeds other than the Sunset lettuce and Tom thumb sprouted in 7-days. I’m not real sure why these two varieties failed to produce a single sprout. It’s possible the Aerogarden provides too much light, or maybe I just got two bonk packs of seeds. Since all of the other varieties were growing well I decided to put 7 – 8 red sails seeds from Botanical Interest into the two pods that didn’t produce anything. The red sails seeds sprouted in no time flat, giving me the following wonderfully looking Aerogarden after just 2-weeks:

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While I am currently only producing 5 different varieties of lettuce, this has already been a valuable learning experience. I’ll continue to update my blog on my progress. I’m hoping to nail down the best lettuce varieties to grow indoors in an Aerogarden after a few lettucepaloozas, and at the same time narrow down the types of lettuce I like to eat. There are 30 – 40 different lettuce varieties I want to try, so stay tuned!!!

How to produce lots of lettuce in an Earthbox

I am no doubt a fan of the amazing Earthbox. I had amazing success growing tomatoes, cucumbers and basil in the boxes I purchased, but after producing a mountain of food this summer my plants eventually died out. When I was removing the roots from the boxes I started to wonder what else I could grow in the soil that was left over. I eat a lot of salads so I figured I would give lettuce a shot. I don’t know much about lettuce, so after salivating over the pictures and reading the lettuce descriptions at Baker Creek, Botanical Interest and Territorial I decided to grow butterhead, buttercrunch, red sails and a mixed seed variety from Johnny’s select seeds.

To prep the soil in the Earthbox I removed the old fertilizer strip and then dumped the dirt out on a plastic tarp. I washed out the container, fluffed the dirt and poured it back in. I wasn’t planning to use the sub irrigation feature of the Earthbox for this go around, just the soil and container. When all the dirt was back in the box I mixed some water and worm tea from my worm factory and poured that over the top of the soil. Then every inch or so I made a small indentation and added 7 – 8 lettuce seeds. This turned out to be WAY TOO MANY seeds, so the next time around I will plant 2 – 3 seeds per hole. To ensure that each seed had the right nutrients to germinate, I sprinkled a little bit of the worm tea mixture in each hole and then put some 6mil plastic over the container. Then I sat back and waited.

It took about 3-days for the first seeds to show life, but after only a month both Earthboxes are FULL of delicious lettuce. We’ve been able to harvest a 5 – 6 salads worth of lettuce every 3 – 4 days. Here is a picture of our last harvest!:

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In addition to giving us all the greens we need the Earthboxes also look amazing:

Picture 1:
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Picture 2:
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This has been an amazing experience, and I can’t believe how much lettuce we are getting from just two Earthboxes! There is little to no maintenance (I only have to water every 3 – 4 days since the plastic keeps the moisture in), and the cut and come again approach is working very well for us. If you are a salad green connoisseur I would highly recommend picking up a container and some lettuce seeds. You will have fresh, healthy and tasty greens in no time flat, and you will have a blast watching them grow.