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Lettuce Yields


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  #1  
Old 09-10-2011, 07:09 PM
GoodGilligan GoodGilligan is offline
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Default Lettuce Yields

This is probably a question with no easy answer, but I was wondering how many loose leaf lettuce plants are needed to make a family sized salad. I trying to determine how many spots in my system would need to be occupied by lettuce to allow for a few salads a week for a family of four.

As a complete newbie to both gardening and hydroponics, I don't even have a clue as to how big a loose leaf lettuce plant gets when fully grown. Now, I do know that the seed package says the lettuce will be ready to harvest in about 6-8 weeks. Therefore, if one plant makes one salad, I would need to harvest and replant 3-4 plants a week x 8 weeks = 32 plants at all times. Plus a few extras to account for some lost plants.

Has anyone every tried something like this, that could share their experience?

Thanks
GoodGilligan

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  #2  
Old 09-11-2011, 04:45 PM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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Well, in my inside bubbler (DWC) system I had 8 plants. That yeilded enough for a family salad (for 4 adults) once a week and a salad for myself once to twice a week mixing it with some store bought spinach since mine didn't make it. I only took 40% of the plant at any given time as I read somewhere. I planted in early June and just last week took out the plants as they bolted.


This is the only picture I could find of my inside system. Notice how they are laying over. They had dampening as sprouts from being too wet but I decided to let them go and see what would happen. They still provided very tasty leaves and grew like crazy. They eventually grew up into the light; it was an interesting experiment.
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  #3  
Old 09-11-2011, 07:27 PM
GoodGilligan GoodGilligan is offline
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Hey fintuckyfarms -

So if I understand right, those plants in the picture were pretty early in their growing cycle? Compared to their size in the picture, how big would you say the plants were when you were harvesting them for salad?

It sounds like my assumptions in the previous post were close. Now I just have to figure out space for some radishes, carrots, and tomatoes and I can have some pretty decent salad production. It is kinda of the first goal I set for myself, to see if I can maintain consistant production.

Now you said you planted these in June and they lasted until the end of August. So it sounds like you got a couple of weeks production out of them before they "bolted". BTW - what do you mean by bolted? Obviously, I can understand that they die, but is it due to age, disease, seeding?

GoodGilligan
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:33 AM
fintuckyfarms fintuckyfarms is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodGilligan View Post
Hey fintuckyfarms -

So if I understand right, those plants in the picture were pretty early in their growing cycle? Compared to their size in the picture, how big would you say the plants were when you were harvesting them for salad?

I first harvested on 07/27/11, probably could have done so sooner, I just didn't know better. I think if I did regular harvesting they might have lasted longer; IDK. The plants grew up into the light so that was about 10" tall before they bolted. I always took from the bottom outside and only 40% of the growth.

It sounds like my assumptions in the previous post were close. Now I just have to figure out space for some radishes, carrots, and tomatoes and I can have some pretty decent salad production. It is kinda of the first goal I set for myself, to see if I can maintain consistant production.

Now you said you planted these in June and they lasted until the end of August. So it sounds like you got a couple of weeks production out of them before they "bolted". BTW - what do you mean by bolted? Obviously, I can understand that they die, but is it due to age, disease, seeding?

Bolting (from what I've read) is when the plant starts to grow really fast twds sending out seeds. I think you can almost watch them grow. I think (don't quote me) it is mostly due to heat and age but in my case my plants were damaged from the first few days because they were too wet in the medium. Also my light got left on for several days in a row then they bolted right after that. They were use to roughly 12 on and 12 off before that.

My inside plants were pure experiment because I probably just should have throwen them out when they dampened (fell over), but they were growing well eventhough they were sideways and I just thought I would see what happened. I have seen and read where a small lettuce garden in a basement lasted all winter long and they started new seeds every 4 months or so to replace the plants that were at the end of their production.
GoodGilligan
I will probably start some more seeds pretty soon, but I've been working so much overtime and fair has put me behind in my chores like hoof trimming and worming that I need to catch up on those first. Keep us updated as I'm always eager to learn more!
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Old 09-13-2011, 05:14 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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GoodGilligan
Lettuce plants are a cool weather crop, and even though it isn't the goal, lettuce plants flower and produce seeds. The weather/environment plays a big part in when the lettuce plants begin flowering. That's what is refers to as "bolting." Instead of being a nice round head of lettuce, when they bolt (begin to flower) they begin to grow tall (tripling in height, and even more). Basically when the weather gets too hot, the lettuce plants know they will die soon (in nature), so they begin to flower and produce seeds to reproduce.

You can either harvest the lettuce heads as the whole plant (like they sell in stores), or you can just pluck leaves off the plant to eat as it grows throughout the plants whole life. But if you want to know how many heads you'll need to harvest weekly to feed your family, you really need to figure out how much your family eats to have a starting point (you know your family's habits better than anyone else would). Not everybody's eats the same size salad, especially kids that tend to eat much less than adults do. I eat large salad myself, in fact I use a glass mixing bowl as a salad bowl (7 inches wide, and 3.5 inches tall), and stick all the goodies in my salad I can find in the fringe.

I even often make my own croutons from old bread I cut to crouton size, then let dry out on low in the toaster oven. Then I'll saute them lightly in butter (or margarine) and add seasonings to them (perhaps I might even add a spirits of olive oil as well). A salad dosen't get much better than that. Heck you can make a large zip-lock bag full of croutons yourself for the price of a cheep loaf of bread, or practically free from bread that would otherwise wind up in the trash because it's old. We always seem to have partial loves of left over french bread piling up in the freezer (taking up all the space).

Also each variety of lettuce will have their own growth rate and size, and the actual environmental conditions will affect your growth rate, so it's hard to say how many plants you'll want to be growing for a continuous supply without an idea of the quantity that will be harvested, as well as the seed to harvest for the varieties you want to grow.

P.S. fintuckyfarms
I wrote this post before I read the quoted section in your post/reply. So I didn't realize there were reply's in that section. To separate what you want to quote you can just highlight the part you want to quote, then click the quote icon (4'th from the right on the bottom row). That way you can easily separate the quotes from the reply's and it makes it easy to tell which is which like this:

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Old 09-13-2011, 09:16 PM
GoodGilligan GoodGilligan is offline
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Hey Guys,

fintuckyfarms -

Nothing like having two jobs. One away from home and one at home. Well, I hope you get some time to start those seeds. Hopefully it works out better this time. Let us know how they turn out.

GPS -

Quote:
I eat large salad myself, in fact I use a glass mixing bowl as a salad bowl (7 inches wide, and 3.5 inches tall), and stick all the goodies in my salad I can find in the fringe.

I even often make my own croutons from old bread I cut to crouton size, then let dry out on low in the toaster oven. Then I'll saute them lightly in butter (or margarine) and add seasonings to them (perhaps I might even add a spirits of olive oil as well). A salad dosen't get much better than that
You're making me hungry with all that descriptive food talk. I've still got a few weeks before anything can be harvested from my garden!!!

Quote:
Lettuce plants are a cool weather crop, and even though it isn't the goal, lettuce plants flower and produce seeds. The weather/environment plays a big part in when the lettuce plants begin flowering. That's what is refers to as "bolting." Instead of being a nice round head of lettuce, when they bolt (begin to flower) they begin to grow tall (tripling in height, and even more). Basically when the weather gets too hot, the lettuce plants know they will die soon (in nature), so they begin to flower and produce seeds to reproduce.
Two questions. Firstly, considering that I live in South Florida and therefore I've decided to grow in a climate controlled house, will that delay the onset of bolting?

Secondly, how easy is it to get seed from lettuce and use it for the next planting? I would like to try harvesting seed at some point.

Quote:
You can either harvest the lettuce heads as the whole plant (like they sell in stores), or you can just pluck leaves off the plant to eat as it grows throughout the plants whole life. But if you want to know how many heads you'll need to harvest weekly to feed your family, you really need to figure out how much your family eats to have a starting point (you know your family's habits better than anyone else would). Not everybody's eats the same size salad, especially kids that tend to eat much less than adults do.
Ya, I kinda figured that there would be no one correct answer when I first asked the question, but I figured a few people would provide their experience and get me closer to an understanding of possible yields. I've got seven loose leaf lettuce growing in the system now. And I've just started a whole bunch of romaine seeds to supplement the leaf lettuce. I figure once those are all up and running, I can start a regular seeding schudule to maintain a reasonable number of plants once I determine my own yield & usage.

Thanks guys, and I will keep you up to date with my progress.

GoodGilligan
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  #7  
Old 09-14-2011, 05:43 AM
GpsFrontier GpsFrontier is offline
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Quote:
considering that I live in South Florida and therefore I've decided to grow in a climate controlled house, will that delay the onset of bolting?
Absolutely, if the climate control is done sufficiently you wont encounter bolting no mater what season it is in your area. Don't let the air temp into the 80's, and don't let the water temp get above that either and the plants will never experience conditions that would let them know they need to begin to reproduce. That's not to say that one degree difference and they will bolt, but that would be optimum conditions for lettuce so they wont be stressed.

Quote:
Secondly, how easy is it to get seed from lettuce and use it for the next planting? I would like to try harvesting seed at some point.
Personally I simply don't know. I have never made a point of trying to gather seeds from a lettuce plant. But considering you generally get hundreds/thousands in one pack of seeds that only cost a buck or two, it never occurred to me to try and harvest seeds from a lettuce plant (and it must not be hard to do if their that cheep).

P.S.
If you asked/or said I need to harvest 4 heads a week, and of what type of lettuce because larger heads like romaine lettuce take longer (if I remember correctly), I could give a much more detailed reply. But I don't want to do that just guessing how much you'll plan to consume. However I can tell you most leaf varieties of lettuce go from seedling to full grown (harvest) in about 6 weeks under the right conditions. And you can get "seed to harvest times" from the packaging (most of the time anyhow). Then it's just doing a little math once you know how much you'll be harvesting.

As an example:
One head harvested a week and a seed to harvest time of 6 weeks. You would want/need 6-8 heads already sprouted and growing at any given time in rotation. However like fintuckyfarms mentioned you don't need to pull the plant to have a salad. In witch case it's much harder to do the math because it comes down to how many leaves you harvest per plant, and how many plants you have able to have leaves harvested from.

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