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DIY Lettuce Planter: Lettuce in a Wine Barrel

Here is a really quick way to get a lot of lettuce in a short period of time while protecting it from those pesky slugs and snails! Growing lettuce in a lettuce planter keeps it elevated so that pests can’t reach it, plus its shallow root system means it thrives in a container environment, so you will have a huge harvest of lettuce without needing a lot of space.

A half wine barrel makes a stylish and effective container to grow lettuce in

I decided that one season of slugs eating my lettuce was enough. While I’m inclined to share my garden with the local wildlife, there are a few things I like to keep to myself. That includes my vegetables!

While there are plenty of ways to keep slugs at bay, elevating my lettuce was by far the easiest and most friendly way to keep the slugs away from my stash. Ever year now, I grow plenty of lettuce. It just grows so fast and I gobble it up like there’s no tomorrow.

If you’re looking to make your own lettuce planter, here is exactly how I built my own wine barrel planter and all the best tips for growing lettuce.

This post will cover

lettuce you can grow

Why Should You Plant Lettuce in a Container?

Of course, you can grow your lettuce in a garden bed or in any container you like, but I plant my lettuce in a wine barrel planter for a number of reasons:

  • It looks decorative in the garden.
  • It grows very quickly.
  • It is easy to harvest the lettuce at a raised height.
  • It greatly reduces the number of slugs and snails that devour the tender seedlings and the leafy greens.
  • You can place it in a partially shady location, like under a tree that will prevent the lettuce from overheating and bolting.
Deer Tongue Red Romaine lettuce growing in a wine barrel

Preparing Your Lettuce Planter

You don’t actually need such a deep planter since lettuce has fairly shallow roots. I like the look of the wine barrel planter, and I enjoy having the lettuce elevated this high for easier harvesting.

You can save soil costs by filling the bottom of the barrel with a large upside-down plastic pot, then top the rest of the planter with a good quality soil mix for containers. I almost always make my own potting mix using one of these recipes.

Alternatively, you can buy a container gardening soil mix of your preference or make your own by adding 2 parts peat moss and 1 part pearlite to 4 parts well composed soil. Mix thoroughly in a wheelbarrow, then fill up the planter.

A wine barrel full of soil in preparation for lettuce planting

Types of Lettuce to Grow

Lettuce seeds are really easy to sow either directly or by starting them indoors first. Learn all about seed starting here and for more detailed instructions plus lots of DIYs and tips, see my book on seed starting here.

Nursery lettuce plants are also an option, and are really inexpensive. You can often get six or more for just a few dollars. I think I spent $5 on a mix of seedlings that I planted in this barrel.

When selecting your lettuce, choose some leaf salad greens and not just head lettuce. I love salad greens because I can harvest them as I go and leave behind seeds to quickly replace what I have taken.

Look for salad greens with a mixture of flavor and colour. This will give you the tastiest summer salads. Here are some of my go-tos:

  • Red lettuce
  • Oakleaf lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Asian greens
  • Mustards
  • Kale

If you want some new flavours, check out this list of unusual salad greens to enjoy.

Baby lettuce plants growing in a wine barrel

Tips for Growing Lettuce

Lettuce grows best in full sun though it does tolerate partial shade (you can easily move it if it gets too hot when it’s in a lettuce planter). When the lettuce is growing, you’ll want to thin seedlings to help the plants grow better. Luckily, you can eat all of these lettuce seedlings!

Since lettuce has shallow roots, this does mean that you’ll have to water regularly. Check the soil at least twice a week and water whenever it’s dry. When it’s hot, check on your lettuce every day.

At the beginning and end of the season, I like to use little umbrella greenhouses to extend my season. They work well when you’re first starting seeds as well as in the fall to keep things warmer for longer for your lettuce.

Of course, my most helpful tip is my wine barrel planter! Elevating the lettuce is the best way to prevent slugs, snails, and other pests from eating up all your lettuce.

DIY greenhouse for lettuce using an umbrella

Harvesting From Your Lettuce Planter

After just three weeks, this is what the lettuce barrel looks like. Now we are harvesting lettuce every day for our salads, sandwiches, and snacks.

To harvest, you can either cut the outer leaves of the plants or harvest a whole head. If you cut the leaves, the rosette in the center will keep growing, but make sure you harvest it all before it starts to flower (this is called “bolting”), or the leaves will become bitter.

If you harvest a whole head, buy a few more seedlings and replace them as you cut. This way, you will have a constant supply of lettuce throughout the season!

Various types of lettuce in different colors look attractive growing in a wine barrel

Frequently Asked Questions About Lettuce Planters

How deep of a planter do you need for lettuce?

Lettuce has quite shallow roots, so you don’t need a deep planter at all. The most important part is making sure it’s elevated to keep it away from pests. So you’re not filling a huge container and wasting tons of money on soil, consider filling it with organic compostable materials or a large upside down plastic pot.

What’s the best way to harvest lettuce leaves?

You can choose to cut the leaves as you need them or harvest the entire head. Make sure to harvest the greens before the plant begins flowering. Ideally, harvest in the morning when the plant is hydrated and not in the afternoon sun.  

Does lettuce need sun or shade?

You’ll see the most successful harvest if you plant your lettuce in full sun, but it can handle partial shade as well. If you live in a hot climate, keep the lettuce out of the hot sun during the afternoon.

close up of lettuce leaves

Enjoy your lettuce! Let me know what you make with your homegrown lettuce in the comments down below.

More Veggies to Grow

Comments

  1. Such a tease with the Sea Soil! Like Debbie, I am in the United States. Virginia, to be exact. Should you ever have a penchant for mailing sea soil to people, let me know. :)

    Reply
  2. Hi Tammy – sorry you can’t get SeaSoil in Virginia…I will be doing a giveaway for some pretty cool SeaSoil gardening shirts with the flower power crew on them, so keep up with us and just maybe one will come your way.

    Reply
    • Possibly. But also plant a bunny barrier to give them snacks away from the barrels and that can help too.

      Reply

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