Damson Cottage Garden

Self-sufficient in Lettuce

I am determined to be self-sufficient in lettuce! We usually buy loads of the stuff – about 3 bags a week. If each bag costs £1 we must spend (52 x 3) £156 per year on lettuce! Madness.

Lettuce is really easy to grow. I always used to think that it was very tender, would get eaten by all the wildlife and would need constant watering. I’m glad to say I was wrong – it’s been easy and very rewarding. No air miles, no chemicals.

Growing lettuce from seed

I grow little gem, mazur, lollo rossa and webbs wonderful full sized lettuce and use mixed lettuce seeds for cut and come again leaves.

To grow full sized lettuces, I sow them in trays of compost. When they get big enough plant them in the ground. I prefer this to sowing them straight into the ground, as when they are young I have no idea which are lettuces and which are weeds. It also gives me more control about where the final plants grow and I find it is less wasteful of seeds.

How to grow lettuce

Trays of webbs wonderful lettuce ready to be planted into the garden

When the young lettuce are big enough I plant them in any spare gaps in the garden or in lines in the veggie plot.

How to grow lettuce

Young lettuce

How to grow lettuce

Tips on growing lettuce

Our lettuce

I grow the cut and come again lettuce in old trays that we buy mushrooms in. This number of seeds will be enough for three of these trays.

Cut and come again lettuce

Cut and come again lettuce

The leaves from the cut and come again lettuce are usually ready for their first harvest in 4 weeks. You can snip them 3 or 4 times before you need to start again. You can use pre-mixed seeds or, of course mix your own.

My top tips for growing lettuces:

- sow little and often to make sure you have a constant supply of fresh leaves. I put the seed somewhere prominent near the front door and this reminds me to scatter a few more seeds every few weeks.

- lettuce likes to germinate in cool, rainy conditions (perfect for the UK!). If its really hot sow them in the evening in dappled shade. If it gets hot and dry, water regularly to discourage them from bolting – also pick them regularly before they have chance to bolt.

- you can grow lettuce over winter in a cold frame – choose varieties that don’t mind the cold like ‘Arctic King’ and ‘Winter Destiny’

- if you have heavy, wet soil it’s best to grow them in raised beds as lettuce like good drainage.

Have a go, grow yourself a salad! Jane


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