Lettuce Growing Tips for Your Vegetable Garden
Lettuce Growing Essentials
- Lettuce likes the sun in the colder months, but needs to be protected as much as possible from the hot midday and afternoon sunin the summer. Although lettuce generally prefers cooler growing climates, it is most popular as a salad vegetable during the hot summer months. Fortunately, you can select appropriate varieties for these conditions which makes it possible to grow lettuce year round in frost free climates.
- To prepare your soil for lettuce, for every square metre, add at least half a barrow of compost of aged manure along with around 200 grams or 1 handful of blood and bone. Work it into the soil well with a garden fork to a depth of around 30cm.
- Lettuce is perfect choice for container or pot growing. A 30cm wide pot will hold a single hearty iceberg or two to three Cos, butter head or loose-leaf lettuces. The key is a good quality potting mix. If you’re and organic gardener, make up your own using one half H40 Potting Mix and a quarter of each Earthgrow Soil Conditioner and coir peat.
Did You Know?
Lettuce has a high requirement for nitrogen, but young plants are easily burnt if fresh compost or manure is used… take extra care when selecting your manures and composts!
Young Lettuce Seedlings
- Seedlings are a quick and easy way to establish your lettuce crop. Always buy fresh and young and make sure they are planted the same day, preferably during the cooler hours late in the day. Soak the pun net in a container of liquid seaweed solution for 30 minutes before planting. Lettuce seeds need sunlight to germinate so if going down the seed route just scatter them over the soil surface and lightly press them in. You will need to water twice daily until they germinate which will take around 10 days.
- With such big leaves, if neglected lettuce can easily dry out. It is important to keep them moist, so water plants daily during warm conditions and keep plants mulched to help preserve moisture. Apply a liquid fertiliser every week to ensure a juicy harvest!
- Daytime temperatures of below 20 degrees provide optimal growth. In warm conditions, it is useful to shade the seedlings for the first 3-4 days after planting. In warmer locations choose heat tolerant, non-hearting varieties and plant them in cooler, shaded areas of the garden. You could also erect temporary shade structures to protect your crops from the heat.
- Water your crops early in the morning as foliage that remains wet overnight is vulnerable to disease and wetting the foliage during the heat of the day may cause burning.
- Seedlings can be prone to attack by slugs and snails, so use barriers, baits or traps.
- Lettuce can also suffer occasional attack from mildew diseases, but this is often caused by unsuitable climatic conditions or poor gardening practices. Ensure the soil is well drained and increase the air circulation around the plants. Apply a foliar fertiliser such as Seasol to help build disease resistance.