Lettuce

Family: Asteraceae

Countries: Iraq, Middle East

Lettuce is a delightful vegetable to grow.  Many different varieties of lettuce are available; there are green lettuces, red lettuce, purple lettuces, and bronze coloured lettuces.  Some lettuces develop a rounded ball-like form of leaves as they mature, while other varieties produce upright, vertical leaves and there are also lettuces with a looser, open form.  Whether you favour a crisp lettuce leaf or softer textured leaves, with such a wide choice of lettuce seeds available, you’re sure to find your favourite.

The main growing season for lettuces is from March to September – this is when most lettuce seeds are sown, but if you grow undercover or in a sheltered location, you can grow lettuce successfully all through the year.  Sow a small amount of seed every two or three weeks, for a regular harvest of lettuce.

Generally, the best lettuces are sown in springtime in an area that enjoys partial shade.  Lettuces flag in the heat of summer, so sow seed in shaded areas of your garden for a bountiful supply of lettuce in summertime.  In winter, lettuce seeds won’t germinate when the temperatures are low, so sow lettuce seeds in autumn and on warmer days.  Of course, you could always start your winter lettuce seeds off in a porch or warmer location and then move the seedlings outdoors when they’ve germinated.

Many varieties of lettuce can be grown as ‘cut and come again’ crops.  Simply sow your lettuce seeds and allow your plants to grow for a few weeks.  When you’re ready to harvest your lettuces, cut the leaves close to ground level.  Next, water your plants, if need be, and then take your next harvest in two or three weeks time.  I often grow cut and come again lettuces in a window box.  I mix together a blend of seeds to achieve a container full of different coloured lettuces.

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