Visit my online shop for dried herbs, herbal tinctures, essential oils and more!



Tell a Friend about Us




Herb garden

Vegetable garden

Useful Contacts

Sitemap

Articles about Vegetable Crops for the Garden

  Advantages of Container Vegetable Gardens
  Best Vegetable Crops for Containers
  Brandywine Tomatoes - Get the Most From This Heirloom Variety
  Choosing a Site For Your Home Vegetable Garden
  Container Vegetable Gardening Tips
  Container Vegetable Gardens
  Double Your Crops
  Getting Children Interested in Growing Vegetables
  Grow Your Own Salad
  Growing Tomatoes in Pots
  Growing Vegetable Plants Becomes More Than Just A Hobby
  How to Grow a Vegetable Garden
  Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening Ideas
  Indoor Vegetable Gardening How to Tips
  Learning About Indoor Container Vegetable Gardening
  List of vegetable crops by difficulty
  Mushroom Growing in Odd Unused Spaces
  Non Hybrid Seeds For Survival Gardening
  Organic Container Gardening - Simple and Easy Ways to Grow Vegetables and Flowers in Pots
  Organic Vegetable Cultivation Table
  Over Wintering Chilli Pepper Plants
  pH preferences of food crops
  Planning your Container Crops
  Planting Tomatoes Upside Down
  Potato Container Garden Tips
  Preparing a Vegetable Garden
  Review: Food4Wealth by Jonathan White
  Vegetable Container Garden Tips
  Vegetable Crops in alphabetical order by name
  Why I Recommend Vegetable Container Gardening
  Why Vegetable Container Gardening is Getting More Popular Today Than Ever
  How to grow organic Asparagus
  How to grow organic Aubergines
  How to grow organic Beetroot
  How to grow organic Broad beans
  How to grow organic Broccoli
  How to grow organic Brussels sprouts
  How to grow organic Cabbage
  How to grow organic Calabrese
  How to grow organic Carrot
  How to grow organic Cauliflower
  How to grow organic Celeriac
  How to grow organic Celery
  How to grow organic Celtuce
  How to grow organic Chinese broccoli
  How to grow organic Chinese cabbage
  How to grow organic Chicory
  How to grow organic Corn
  How to grow organic Cucumbers and Gherkins
  How to grow organic Endive
  How to grow organic Florence fennel
  How to grow organic French beans
  How to grow organic Garlic
  How to grow organic Globe artichokes
  How to grow organic Jerusalem artichokes
  How to grow organic Kale and borecole
  How to grow organic Kohl rabi
  How to grow organic Komatsuna
  How to grow organic Land cress
  How to grow organic Leaf beet
  How to grow organic Leeks
  How to grow organic Lettuce
  How to grow organic Mizuna
  How to grow organic Mustard greens
  How to grow organic New Zealand spinach
  How to grow organic Onions
  How to grow organic Parsnips and Hamburg Parsley
  How to grow organic Peas
  How to grow organic Peppers (hot and sweet)
  How to grow organic Potatoes
  How to grow organic Radishes
  How to grow organic Rocket
  How to grow organic Runner beans
  How to grow organic Salad onions
  How to grow organic Salsify, Scorzonera and Scolymus
  How to grow organic Seakale
  How to grow organic Shallots
  How to grow organic Spinach
  How to grow organic Squash
  How to grow organic Swede
  How to grow organic Texsel greens
  How to grow organic Tomatoes
  How to grow organic Turnips




About us

Privacy

Disclaimer

Frann Leach

Labelled with ICRA

DISCLOSURE:

We support this site using affiliate marketing as a way to earn revenue. All the ads, and many of the links mentioning other products, services, or websites are special links that earn us a commission when you use or pay for their product/service.

Please do not use our site if this alarms you.

Organic Gardening:


How to grow organic Lettuce


by

Crisphead lettuce
Crisphead lettuce

Lettuce

Lactuca sativa

Family: Compositae (Group 4)

There are 4 types of lettuce: butterhead, crisphead, cos and loose-leaf (salad bowl):

Butterhead: the traditional floppy-leaved lettuce. Mainly grown in summer but some hardy cultivars are available, suitable for winter cultivation in unheated greenhouses.

Crisphead: usually larger than butterheads, with crisp, wrinkled leaves. Includes Iceberg types (with large white hearts, usually sold with all outer leaves removed) and Webbs Wonderful types. Mainly grown in summer, but some cultivars are suitable for winter cultivation in unheated greenhouses.

Cos: upright, thick-leaved, with a fairly loose heart. Slower to develop than other lettuces, they grow better in cool weather and are quite hardy. Some are even suitable for overwintering outdoors.

Loose leaf (salad bowl): forming a loose rosette of leaves with no heart. Leaves can be picked individually or heads cut off across the stem and left to resprout. Slow to bolt; heat and cold tolerant. Can be grown outside most of the year and in unheated tunnels or frames in winter.

By careful selection of varieties and use of heated facilities, it is possible to produce fresh lettuce for at least 11 months of the year, though why one would want to, with the variety of other salad greens available, is beyond me.

Summer lettuce matures in about 12 weeks, butterheads first, followed by crispheads, and then cos. Butterheads will only stand for a few days before they start to bolt, crispheads about a week longer, while cos stand reasonably well so long as the weather is cool. For this reason, many gardeners make successive sowings of small quantities every 2 weeks throughout the season, or you may prefer to rely on the loose leaf types, which can usually be picked over several months.

Recommended cultivars

Early sowings under cover: Hilde1, Jaguar 2, Little Gem3, Winter Density3
Main outdoor sowings: All the Year Round1, Avondefiance1, Windermere2, Avoncrisp2, Jaguar2, Bubbles3, Lobjoit's Green3, Winter Density3, Lollo Rossa4, Lolla Bionda4, Frisby4, Cocarde (oak leaf)4, Samantha (oak leaf)4
Protected winter crop: Kwiek1, Marmer2, Marvel of Four seasons4
Outdoor overwintering: Valdor1, Winter Density3
Autumn sowing for early crop in heated greenhouse: Kloek1, Kordaat1
1 Butterhead   2 Crisphead   3 Cos/semi-cos   4 Loose leaf

Site/soil

Lettuces need an open site and light, fertile, moisture retaining soil. They do not do well in poor soil or soil which dries out in hot weather. Ideal pH is 6.8-7.5.

Dig over the ground the previous autumn and apply plenty of compost or manure. A base dressing of 1oz fish, blood and bone and 1oz rock potash per square yard can be applied 10 days before sowing or planting. Liquid feeds of seaweed fertiliser may also be applied during the growing season if growth seems slow.

The smaller lettuce cultivars and lettuce grown as cut and come again seedlings can be used for intercropping. Loose leaf types also make attractive edging for vegetable or flower beds, especially the oakleaf varieties.

Sow 1-2cm (½-¾") deep either in situ (which is best in hot weather), in seed trays or modules. In cool weather lettuce can also be sown in seedbeds and transplanted. Thin as soon as possible after germination to the correct spacing as follows: small cultivars (e.g. Little Gem) 15-20cm (6-8") each way, standard butterhead: about 28cm (11") each way, crispheads 30x42cm (12"x15") or 42cm (15") each way for larger heads, cos and loose leaf: 40cm (14") each way.

Water regularly in dry weather at a rate of 4 gallons per sq yard per week. If water is in short supply concentrate on the period 7-10 days before maturity.

High temperature dormancy

Lettuce seed often fails to germinate at soil temperatures above 77ª F (25ª C), especially during the first few hours after sowing. To overcome this:

Alternatively, seed can be sown in trays or modules kept somewhere cool to germinate, or jelly sown.

Cultivation table for a year-round supply of lettuce

CultivarSowing notesHarvest
Kloek1Sept-Oct in situ in heated greenhouseJan-March
Marmer2Oct in cold greenhouse/frameApril
Winter Density3end Aug-early Sept, thin to 3", liquid feed in MarchMay-June
Little Gem3mid-Feb under cloches. Remove covers 3 weeks before maturity or in hot weatherlate May-early June
Jaguar2mid-Feb under cover, transplant into divided tray at 7 days, planted out mid-Aprilend May to end June
All the Year Round1, Avoncrisp2successively late March-early July supply cloches in AutumnJune-Oct
Lolla Rossa4,
Lolla Bionda4
April-MayJuly-Oct
Avondefiance1, Avoncrisp2early August, cloche in SeptNov-Dec
1 Butterhead  2 Crisphead  3 Cos/semi-cos  4 Loose leaf

Special commercial cultivation method for early spring lettuce

Preparation:

Lettuce will be grown in polytunnels or cold frames, which should be prepared in advance of planting. Polytunnels are left well-ventilated, cold frames left open to obtain full benefit of rain.

Apply lime as necessary to adjust pH to 6.8 (6.0 for peat soils).

Apply a base fertiliser dressing of 2oz bone meal and 4oz rock phosphate* per square yard (or 3oz/square yard Growmore 100% organic).

*Apply rock phosphate once every 4 years only.

Sow in soil blocks 4cm (1½") square in polytunnel or cold frame. Seed can also be sown broadcast and pricked out to 5cm each way (2"x2") before finally transplanting, or 150 seeds to a seed tray, transplanted 40 per tray or into soil blocks.

Prior to planting, cover frames to allow the soil surface to dry out. Prepare soil to a fine tilth. It is important that the soil is not walked on subsequently. Plant out in January 22cm each way (8"x8") or 22cm by 13cm (8"x5"). Plants are planted shallowly, not very firmly. Soil blocks are merely placed into a depression made by a planting machine so that two thirds of the block is above the soil surface, which keeps leaves off the soil, aiding against botrytis and keeping the leaves clean. This should avoid the need to trim plants prior to packing for market or consumption, maximising yield.

Cover frames, but give ventilation in warm spells and towards maturity. A liquid feed of comfrey liquid in March is useful if the soil is not over-rich.

Watering should not be necessary on heavy soils, but may be needed on light soils. Do not water in bright sunshine.

Test hearts gently with the back of the hand and cut those which are ready, handling with care. Best time is in the cooler part of the early morning.



If you're interested in healthy food, you may also be interested in our sister site, The Health Site, Your Online Health Channel.


Article ©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

Top of page