Lettuce is a staple in our home, fresh leafy lettuce in a bowl with carrot cheese boiled egg and cherry tomatoes is a favorite at a BBQ.
Lettuce from the supermarket just doesn’t taste the same, or give you the variety that you can get when you grow your own.
There are four main lettuce varieties
Head lettuce: This is the most common type found in the supermarket. It’s a family sized dude. However, it’s also the most temperamental when grown in the home garden. It takes the longest to grow and in hot weather will bolt to seed very quickly.
Butterhead lettuce: Similar to Iceburg (head lettuce) but has smaller, softer and more loosely packed leaves.
Leaf Lettuce: These types have open growth leaves. With a wide variety of shape, taste and colour, they mature quickly and are easy to grow. These are often referred to as ‘cut and come again’ varieties.
Romaine or Cos Lettuce: These plants are sweet with big, crunchy leaves. They grow upright with tubular heads of leaves and can get up to 10″ tall.
First off, prepare your soil so that it has been dug to around 30cm deep and has had rotted manure and compost forked in. You can grow lettuce from seedlings or from seed. I prefer to do a little of each, as the seedlings will come into production much quicker.
When you visit your local nursery, pick up a couple of punnets of lettuce seedlings and two packets of mixed lettuce seeds. When you get home plant the seedlings and a couple of rows of seeds at the same time. It is best to soak the seedlings in water while they are still in their punnets for 10 minutes, this will reduce the amount of transplant stress on them.
Plant the seedlings about 10cm apart, and water them in with a gentle sprinkle from a watering can. It is best not to fertalise them in the first two days, as they are getting used to their new environment.
Plant two rows of seeds in trenches around 1cm deep. It does not matter how many seeds you plant, as you will thin them out at a later date to leave only the strongest seedlings. It is best to plant a row or two of seeds out each week. This allows for enough time for each planting to grow and while another planting is being eaten. By doing this you should never run out of lettuce.
Planing seeds when other plants have been is fine to do, as long as you refresh the soil with some nutrients. Compost, rotted animal manure or blood and bone make for excellent soil rejuvenators.
Watering your lettuce is important, on hot days expect your plants to wilt slightly in the afternoons. Make sure you water the plants and let them absorb the water before picking, if you wanted to eat wilted lettuce you would buy it from the shops!
Lettuce grows very quickly, so it is a great plant to get the kids involved in gardening.
Let us know what your great lettuce growing tips are by posting a comment!