Lettuce is not as easy to grow as people think. Getting the balance right so that the right number of lettuces reach maturity at the correct time and protecting it from pests and wildlife can prove a nightmare. The soil needs to be prepared well in advance as the plants thrive in soil which contains well-rotted organic matter. It must not be acid and it must not be allowed to dry out during the life of the crop.
In summer it is best to choose a lightly shaded or sunny site if you are sowing outdoors. It will not grow well in poorly drained or exposed sites. Sow the seeds in a peat pot or seed tray. Remove the weaker plants once the seedlings have germinated. Do not allow your seedlings to be overcrowded. Lettuces do not like being moved so growing the seedlings in the soil where they are going to be allowed to grow is recommended.
Lettuces need to be protected from slugs and birds. Netting can be used to keep the birds off the seedlings and slug pellets or jam jars filled with beer sunk into the ground will help keep the slugs under control. Weed your plants on a regular basis.
Lettuces are ready to be harvested once a firm heart (centre) has formed.
Lettuce come in several varieties:
- Cos - Upright growth
- Loose-Leaf - Does not produce a heart
- Butterhead - Quick maturing and tolerate poorer conditions
- Crisphead - Iceberg is excellent for coleslaw and Webb's Wonderful is a more frilly leaf variety.
- Water your lettuce plants in the morning or mid-day as watering in the evening will increase the chance of disease.
- Do not overcrowd seedlings.
- Harvest before the plant bolts (the heart changes shape and becomes elogated).
- After cutting put unwanted plant roots and leave onto compost heap.
Last Modified on: 05-12-2018