Lettuce is easy to grow, comes in many varieties and can be grown directly or in containers and smaller spaces. The two main types of lettuce are loose leaf lettuce and hearting lettuce, which is dense at the 'heart' (centre) of the lettuce. There are many colours, textures and flavours to choose from for delicious salads practically all year round.
Sow your lettuce thinly from March onwards or February if you are starting indoors and sow every fortnight until August for a continuous crop, which can be harvested through April to September time; just sowing a little but often for a fresh supply without a large glut - or sow as per your requirements.
For winter to early spring crops, sow during autumn. They may require protection during the colder months; in cloches or indoors.
Sow your lettuce in a part sunny, part shady position and keep them well watered; especially if they are being grown in pots. They do not like acidic soil and will benefit from organic matter mixed into the soil beforehand.
If you have sown your lettuce indoors, harden them off for a fortnight before planting out from April onwards.
Depending on the variety of lettuce, you may want to thin out your seedlings, however, lettuce can usually cope with closer cropping.
Keep an eye for slugs who love lettuce as much as we do; it's worth protecting them to avoid very hole-filled or even non-existent leaves! Aphids can be a problem too, which can be washed away.
Water evenly, ideally during the early morning or evening so the leaves do not become scorched. Brown leaves can be a result of hot weather or irregular watering.
You can continually harvest loose-leaf lettuce, by just picking the leaves that a big enough to warrant eating. Hearting lettuce can be harvested once it has a firm heart formed. You can cut the whole plant at the stem base.