Lettuce refusing to gain height

Asked May 31, 2020, 7:04 PM EDT

I have grown lettuce for many years without trouble. This year my lettuce refuses to get large. The butter crunch variety has actually shriveled away, but other varieties look healthy while refusing to grow. The soil is only one year old in raised beds and I planted some as early as March and others as late as late April. Thoughts?

Lane County Oregon

3 Responses

I see you have a drip system, so water should not be a problem. You mention new soil, where did you get it and what is its composition? How did you fertilize? I see no disease or pest problems, so that usually means some cultural problem. The hot and unusual weather we had caused problems for many of our cool season crops, but the usual result is scorch or bolting. Feel free to get back to me with any info.

Thanks for your reply Pat. Here are more details:

The soil is a product called "Nature's Best Planting Soil" from Lane Forest Products. I have used such soil for 10 years in other beds in the past and have never had problems. The ingredients are listed as: Blend of Yard Debris Compost, OMRI-Listed Ocean Rich Rish Compost,Aged Bark Fines, Loam, Sand, Forest Wood Biochar, Fish Bone Meal, Limestone (for pH control), Dried Poultry Manure, Alfalfa Meal, Feather Meal, Kelp Meal, & Leonardite. Mycorrhizae: Glomus intraradices, G. mosseae, G. aggregatum, & G. etunicatum 0.033 propagules/g each.

A few other details. The very first lettuce starts I planted I had grown indoors with a strong grow light from seed. They looked healthy when I planted them. After transplant they seemed to slowly become less and less happy with the outer leaves dying and the center never taking off or becoming what looked to be dense with new, small leaves. I decided they had failed and purchased more starts from two nurseries in town. They are the ones you see pictures of. Previously, in one of the three raised beds I am trying to grow lettuce, I had experimented over the late fall and early winter with trying to grown winter lettuce with a LED grow light and a cold frame. It likewise didn't work. I am somewhat concerned about a fungal or viral problem in the soil? I have no idea how to either rule this in or out.

I will attach another picture of my beds in general. As you can see, the peas are thriving. I planted tomato starts two weeks ago and so they look just a little stressed from the transplant. My onions are doing ok, although I can't tell if their leaves are a little yellower than they should be and there is burn at the tips of some of the leaves. (they are Walla Walla sweets). The garden gets full sun and last year (same soil) I had no trouble with any of my crops.

What a beautiful layout. The soil mix is one I have also used with success. Run a pH test. Onions, lettuce and tomatoes have a high requirement for calcium and a skewed pH can block essential nutrients. Ideal pH will be 5.8 to 6.8 with 6-6.5 being close to ideal for most crops. The test can be run at a few places in Lane Co. and by calling the Master Gardener hotline at 531-344-5859. Due to the virus, the office is closed, but MGs are monitoring the answering machine, so leave your message and they have info on where tests are done. One company is Eugene Analytical Labs.