When to plant lettuce: How to help your plants thrive

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Lettuce is a good option for beginners, it’s easy to grow and can thrive in a container on a balcony owing to its shallow roots. There are many varieties of lettuce, it can come in a wide range of textures, colours, and flavours so it is worth doing some research to find out which type you want to grow. 

There are six different types of lettuce leaf; leaf or loose-leaf, summer crisp or Batavian, butterhead, crisped, cos or romaine and stem.

Growing lettuce can make for a fun project for children during the spring and summer months, helping them to get enthused about the outside world.

Spring, early or late summer is the perfect time to plant lettuce when it is still relatively cool but there is no risk of frost.

The British weather is perfect for lettuce as it thrives in moist conditions.

The key to growing lettuce is to ensure the plant has moist soil with good drainage.

Your lettuce plant should be protected from the hot temperatures as this will dry out the plant and can cause the plant to bolt.

Bolting is when plants flower and set seed prematurely.

Lettuce does require full sun so plant it in sunny spots and avoid shady areas.

As lettuce seeds do not remain viable for long you should use the seeds in the season that it is packed for.

To plant, sprinkle the seeds on top of the soil in rows then gently press the seeds into the soil by hand or with the back of a hoe.

Cover the seeds lightly with soil as they are quite small and so only require a planting depth of around 1cm.

The seeds should be spaced 15cm apart with 30cm between rows.

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It is important to monitor the soil during the day and when the weather is warm to ensure the soil remains moist and does not dry out.

Keeping the soil moist is the key to successfully growing lettuce.

Lettuce typically takes 30 days from planting before it is ready to pick.

Picking lettuce in the morning reportedly gives it the best flavour.

It is very easy to harvest, once it has grown fully you can either cut the entire plant off at ground level, or you can remove just a few leaves at a time.

Watch out for sparrows early in the year as see young lettuce plants as a tasty snack.

You can protect your crop with fleece or chicken wire.

Slugs and snails can also be a problem. There are many ways to fight off these critters, beer traps, sawdust or eggshell barriers can prove to be very effective.

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