Lettuce is one of the easiest crops to grow at home and one of the first things that most people will try when they begin to experiment in growing their own. There are a great many different varieties so it never gets boring and if you choose the right varieties then you can have lettuce for your salads almost all year round.

Growing lettuce:

When growing lettuce the first thing you need to decide is which varieties you would like to grow, which are best suited to the conditions where you live and to the time of year. You can choose to sow hearting lettuces or loose-leaf lettuces that are cut-and-come-again. Lettuce has a huge variety in colour, flavour and texture.

The best policy if you wish to have lettuce for your salads throughout the year is to sow little and often, so you get a continuous crop. Sowing additional seeds every couple of weeks is a good policy. Throughout the winter you can sow indoors on windowsills or choose winter varieties for use in an unheated greenhouse or polytunnel, where if it gets cold they will probably still require a little extra protection.

In the summer months, lettuce can bolt and go to seed if the weather gets too hot and dry so it is best planted where it is given some shade, perhaps by other, taller plants. You should be sure not to let lettuce dry out and to water consistently when soil is dry. The best time to water is early in the morning, so leaves have a chance to dry out. Hearted lettuces should be thinned as necessary.

Some loose leaf lettuce can be ready to pick as little as a month or six weeks after planting. Some varieties allow you to take some leaves from plants over a longer period, while some are left to mature and then the whole plant is cut.

One of the biggest problems faced by lettuce is that posed by slugs and snails. If these become a problem then there are many organic ways to control the slugs and snails in your garden.

In a smaller space, vertical growing up against a wall or in a tall stack of planters is a great way to grow more lettuce and other such swift growing plants in a very small space. Almost everyone can give growing lettuce a go.

Why grow lettuce in the garden?

Lettuce is fun, delicious and ridiculously easy to grow. Everyone should have a go. With very little effort, you can have healthy and tasty leaves all year round.

As it grows so quickly, lettuce can also be used as a partially sacrificial trap crop to prevent pest damage to other more valuable and difficult to grow plants. It is a fantastic companion plant for slower growing brassicas, beetroot, carrots and more.  

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Lactuca sativa