Growing Lettuce

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Lettuce is such an easy vegetable to grow, extremely popular with gardeners who grow in containers and small vegetable gardens it is a must grow for every gardener. The fact that within 6 weeks you could be harvesting your vegetables entices many people to begin growing their lettuce.

There are three different types of lettuce, loose-leaf, butterhead, crisphead and cos lettuces. With loose-leaf varieties growing much faster and ready for harvesting after just 6-8 weeks and with the other types maturing within 14 weeks.

Sowing and Growing

Lettuce needs good soil to grow well, ideally, the soil should have been well dug the previous autumn incorporating adequate manure as digging. Lettuce plants don’t like full sun but enjoy growing in an area which is slightly shaded and away from full sun.

Seeds can be started indoors or outdoors for a summer crop;

  • Indoors: Sow 2-3 seeds in a small peat pot, removing the weaker seedling as soon as the first true leaves appear on the plant. Plant outdoors once the seedlings are a reasonable size.
  • Outdoors: Sow seeds thinly in 2cm deep drills which are 30cm apart. Cover the seeds with soil. When sowing outdoors make sure you don’t sow the seeds to close as this will waste seeds and make more working thinning them out in a few weeks.

You will need to protect your lettuce seedlings from slugs. Many people use slug pellets but other options that you could try are the copper slug prevention rings and also using a beer trap.

Harvesting

Lettuce is quick growers and before you know it your lettuce will be ready for harvesting. The lettuce will be ready as soon as a firm heart has formed, you can test to see if they ready for harvesting by gently squeezing the top of the plant.

Pull the whole plant from the ground and then cut off the root and lower leaves. Making sure you compost the roots and lower leaves.

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