Fresh lettuce from the garden is well worth cultivating. It can be a quick crop, ideal for a small garden. Planted in neat rows, it can also be an attractive veg, especially if you try growing different leaf coloured varieties.
Sowing Lettuce Seed.
Lettuce can be sown from late Feb to June. Though obviously, in Feb will need careful protection. Germination takes 7-12 days. It needs a moist warm environment. However, beware that if the temperature is too hot (over 21 degrees) germination may be patchy.
Sow relatively thinly, lettuce seedlings dislike being transplanted so when thinning out, just discard the excess plants.
For growing full lettuce, sow 30cm apart. However, for salad ‘cut and come’ varieties, you can sow closer and keep cutting leaves to get a second crop.
Important Tips for Growing Lettuce
- Lettuce need to be kept well watered.
- They dislike hot dry sunny weather. In these conditions, like many vegetables they will bolt and run to seed.
- For best crops, ensure the soil is fertile with plenty of organic matter. Lettuce is better when it can grow quickly.
- For longest cropping season, sow at two week intervals. This ensures a steady supply of lettuce.
- During hot season, try growing in the shadier part of your vegetable garden.
- If you have a small garden, lettuce will do well in growing bags, as long as they are sufficiently watered.
- For early plants, sow under glass and harden off before planting outside.
- When sowing indoors and planting outside, take care to give as little disturbance to roots as possible. This can act as a check on growth. Try using disposable pots which can be planted straight outside.
- Using a horticultural fleece can keep away aphids and reduce the direct rays of the sun.
- Keep weeds at bay, but avoid damaging plant with hoe.
Pests and Diseases for Growing Lettuce.
The main enemies of Lettuce are slugs and snails and greenfly. You will need to protect lettuce against these crops. Bear in mind commercial lettuce will be sprayed several times during the growing season. If you have to spray once or twice, it is still much less chemical than lettuce from the supermarket.
In addition if the weather is cold and damp, lettuce may be susceptible to downy mildew and grey mould. the best treatment here is to keep a sharp eye and destroy any infected leaves / plants. It is more of a problem with early season plants.
Best Varieties of Lettuce
- Salad Bowl
- Lollo Rossa
these are perhaps best varieties they can be cropping leaves six or seven weeks after sowing.
- Crisphead Varieties
- All The Year Round
- Tom Thumb
- Winter Crop