Lettuce

Lettuce

Soil for planting lettuce needs to be neutral – alkaline, with adequate organic matter, and kept moist throughout the life of the crop. Choose a sunny or lightly shaded site. In the autumn or early winter, dig the soil and incorporate compost. Shortly before sowing, rake the soil to produce a fine tilth and apply a general fertiliser.

Sowing time

Can be sown throughout the year. Always read the packet.

Crop care

Thin the seedlings as soon as the first true leaves appear. Water the day before thinning, and continue thinning at intervals until the plants are 12” apart. Put slug pellets down and protect plants from birds. Hoe regularly and keep unprotected plants watered. Plants that are undercover should be kept on the dry side. Always try to water in the morning.

Harvesting

Lettuce is ready for cutting as soon as the firm heart has formed – you can test this by pressing the heart with the back of your hand. Cut-and-come-again lettuce doesn’t produce a firm heart, so it can be cut as and when you need it. Ideally, harvest lettuce first thing in the morning.

Lettuce: varieties 

Loose leaf

  • Salad Bowl
  • Red Salad Bowl
  • Lollo Rosso
  • Cancan
  • Stealth

Cos

  • Lobjoits Green
  • Paris White
  • Little Gem
  • Dazzle
  • Pandero
  • Marshall
  • Rusty

Butterhead

  • All the Year Round
  • Tom Thumb
  • Continuity
  • Buttercrunch
  • Hilde
  • Suzan
  • Imperial Winter
  • Musette

Crisp head

  • Webbs Wonderful
  • Windermere
  • Avoncrisp
  • Iceberg
  • Lakeland
  • Jefferson
  • Set

Scotsdales star tip

Sow lettuce at 4-6 week intervals so you can enjoy harvesting your crop for a longer period, especially using the cut-and-come-again varieties. You can also sow beet leaves and spinach this way, and use the young leaves in salads.