The Q&A Archives: Loose Lettuce

Question: We have a wonderfull container garden here on Maui and enjoy many Burpee produce items. Out tomato plants grow to twelve feet and are loaded with the fruits.<br><br>My question, however concerns Burpee's Iceburg Lettuce. We start the seeds indoors toavoid pests and transfer the young lettuce plants soon to one gallon containers. We use a large sun screen to shield all the plants from the intense heat of the sun here. They're watered automatically three times daily to moisten soil, and are fed every two weeks with plant food mixed and applied according to written instructions. The lettuce plant have the prettiest leaves one could hope for, usually about the size of a volleyball and very lush and free of any disease or pest problems. The problem is they never develop into a tight ball shape as shown on the seed package. I am fully pleased with all your products and do not submit this question as a complaint but would like to get results like your pictures.

Answer: It sounds to me like the lettuce has it pretty good in your garden! The problem may stem from all the pampering, actually. Usually leaves grow large and succulent when there is too much nitrogen, which results in a prolonged juvenile state. Heading in lettuce is a sign of maturity, and my specthe fertilizer is getting in the way of "growing up". This is speculation, but I suggest some experimentation. Cut the fertilizer in half for some and eliminating it for others, while maintaining it as is onthe rest of the crop, and see what occurs. If you're not comfortable with experimentation, contact your extension agent (ph# 956-8397) and see if they have more specific suggestions. Hope this helps!

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