An integral ingredient in any salad, lettuce comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. Lettuce is easy to grow in most gardens and it can also be significantly cheaper than buying lettuce in the supermarket. Here is a simple growing guide for sowing and planting lettuce.
Lettuces can usually be sown between the months of March and September, according to the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).
However, the optimum time to sow lettuces may differ depending on the variety being grown, so check the specific requirements for your variety.
Lettuces will normally be ready to harvest at some point from May to November, depending on when they were planted.
Hearting type lettuces will take about 10 weeks to be ready to harvest.
The great thing about lettuce is that if you sow it regularly, you can have a ready supply over several months of the year.
READ MORE: Gardening: Start planting leafy salads & more vegetables this month
What types of lettuce can you grow?
Many will opt to grow hearting lettuces and there are a variety of lettuces to choose from in this group.
Iceberg is one of the most popular types of lettuce out there and it is classed as a crisphead type of lettuce.
However, some might want to branch out and try growing a different lettuce, such as a cos type which has upright and oblong heads.
Butterhead lettuces are also an option, or you may want to grow salad leaf instead if you want to venture away from hearting varieties.
How far apart should you plant lettuce?
Gardeners’ World advises planting lettuce at a depth of 1cm in a trench, 15cm apart and allowing 30cm between rows.
In terms of soil, lettuces should be sown in springtime in moist soil or compost, covered by a very thin layer of vermiculite or compost.
Gardeners’ World adds: “If sowing in the ground, prepare the soil by digging in lots of well-rotted garden compost beforehand.
“This helps to prevent lettuces bolting or running to seed in hot or dry weather, especially in light soils.”
The seedlings should then be thinned out when they are strong enough to be handled, so they sit about 10 to 20cm apart.
Make sure to give the lettuce regular watering and take steps to prevent pests from getting to them.
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How can you grow salad leaves?
Salad leaves are different from hearting lettuces, but they are also very easy to grow in the garden.
Miracle-Gro’s Gardening Guru, Kate Turner, has shared five easy steps for growing salad leaves below:
Ms Turner said: “Salads grow well in a bed but are also great in a container as long as it has drainage holes.
“Add good compost like Performance Organics Fruit & Veg compost”.
Ms Turner recommends sowing seeds “thinly on to damp compost, 10mm deep” and covering the seeds with a “thin layer of soil”.
Ms Turner added: “Keep the soil damp at all times, but without overwatering.”
“Once they are growing strongly feed plants to encourage healthy leafy growth.
“I would recommend using a balanced liquid feed like the Miracle-Gro Purpose Concentrated liquid plant food”, Ms Turner said.
Ms Turner continued: “Harvest them as and when needed. You can pick individual leaves from the outside of the plants if growing ‘cut & come again’ types using scissors.
“It is best to cut in the morning, as the plants will be at their freshest.”