Here’s a vegetable that most everyone uses! Great in salads and sandwiches and with its vitamins, minerals – and even protein – it is considered good for your skin, heart, nerves and more. It’s a great addition to the home garden – even if that means growing it in a pot on a balcony!
From the stiff upright romaine lettuce to soft rounded heads of butterhead and the loosely bunched leaf lettuce types, you can grow many kinds and not get bored with this often overlooked vegetable.
All lettuce tend to prefer partial shade and cooler weather, growing best in spring and fall. If you only have a very sunny patch to work with, create some shade by growing tall plants, such as tomatoes, on the sunny side. If the weather gets very hot, lettuce may bolt (go to seed) sooner than expected so get ready to harvest if need be.
Plant in loose rich soil in the ground - or in pots if your garden is the patio or balcony variety. You can also start ahead of time indoors, about four to six weeks before the last spring frost date and harden off around that frost date. The seeds are small and only need about one centimetre of soil on top. Try sowing more lettuce seeds every two weeks for a continuous supply. You can help keep the plants growing in mid-summer cool with adequate watering in the morning and, as suggested above, in the shade of other plants that will have matured by then.
If growing in a large garden space, you’ll probably appreciate growing in rows, for ease of harvesting. Otherwise, raised beds may be small enough to sow the entire area, thinning out as they mature.Try ‘companion planting’ by growing chives or garlic in between rows to discourage potential pests.