A quick and easy crop to grow, Lettuce is ideal to grow both in containers and in the veg plot. There are so many types of lettuce to grow and home grown is so much fresher than the supermarket bags of lettuce, which seem to have a short shelf life. By growing your own lettuce, you can pick and eat when you want.
Lettuce is easy to germinate, although the seed is small to handle it will germinate in temperatures from 10 to 20 degrees. Early spring in March or April is a good time to start lettuce, in a warm area either under glass or with some gentle heat in a propagator. Once germinated the seedlings, if bunched together will need thinning, which means reducing by pulling out extra seedlings so that only a few well-spaced seedlings remain and remove the other seedlings which are over crowding the main plants. The seedlings can be planted outside in late April, early May and Lettuce sown direct throughout June and July.
Lettuce is one of the few vegetables which grows well, arguably better, in partial shade.
A tip when growing lettuce to sow/plant out regularly; fortnightly is a good rule of thumb and easy to remember. By sowing at intervals you can avoid gluts. Sow the lettuce seed just under the soil surface and always water after sowing. When growing Lettuce it is important to keep a watch on the small seedings after germination because, if there is a dry spell, the seedlings are prone to drying out and will die.
It takes a bit of time to sow, and thin out lettuce seedlings, and if this is too time consuming it is easy to buy suitable plug plants from the garden centre/on line and plant out in the same way.
Lettuce can be grown late into the season into September & October, especially if protected by a cloche. Lettuce is not hardy but will take a fair degree of cold, so all early and late plants need frost protection. Check out growing Lettuces in Autumn and Winter.
When growing lettuce there is a great choice all the favourites, loose leaves, cut and come again, Lollorosso, Iceberg and rocket along with various more exotic mixes available and all grown in the same way. There are so many varieties on the market it's hard to choose which is why picking an AGM variety (Award of Garden Merit) is always a good starting point. There are literally dozens of different type of seeds and plants to buy.
When planting out lettuce, if your veg plot can accommodate, plant Lettuces so that they are growing in partial Shade. Lettuce grows better if it is a little cooler and out of the sun, which if we hit a very hot sunny spell can cause them to bolt. Not many vegetables are shade tolerant, lettuces are one of the few.