A quick and easy crop to grow, Lettuce is ideal to grow both in containers and grown in the veg plot. There are so many different types of lettuce to grow and home grown is so much fresher than the supermarket bags of lettuce, which seem to have such a short shelf life. By growing your own lettuce you can pick and eat when you want. Your home grown lettuce keeps longer and refreshed in the fridge.
Lettuce is easy to germinate, although the seed is quite small to handle it will germinate in temperatures from 10-20 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 to leave several well spaced seedlings and removing the other seedlings which are over crowding the main plants. The seedlings can be planted outside in late April, early May.
Lettuce can be direct sown into a container outside or the veg plot from late April on wards throughout May and June. It is a good 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 does take 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 protected by a cloche. Lettuce is not hardy so all early and late plants need frost protection.
When growing lettuce there is a great choice all the favourites, loose leaves, cut and come again, lollorosso, iceburg and rocket along with various more exotic mixes available and all grown in the same way. There are so many varieties on the market its hard to chose, picking a AGM (Award of Garden Merit) is always a good starting point.There are literally dozens of different type of seeds and plants to buy. Rocket is really easy to germinate and grow, and generally not so attractive to the slugs.