Growing your own lettuces and leaves is probably the easiest way to get started with growing your own veg. They tend to grow quickly without too much trouble from pests and you can harvest the outer leaves constantly throughout the summer for delicious salads. Here are some ideas and tips for you this season…
- Choose lots of different varieties. Salads taste and look so much better when there are loads of leaves in all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours. Mizuna and Frills Mustard are great to add in with lettuce leaves, for example.
- Plant them in and around other veggies to make the best use of space. Lettuces and leaves don’t need much space and grow quite quickly, so if you only have a small garden it works well to dot them in between rows of other veg. If you only want to grow leaves for baby leaf salads, then you can plant them as close as 10-15cm apart.
- Harvest the outer leaves regularly. Nearly all our lettuces and leaves can be treated as cut & come again, so just cut off outer leaves as they grow and the plant will continue producing leaves for you for weeks and weeks.
- Keep soil moist. Whilst they’re pretty hardy, lettuces and leaves don’t like to dry up, and will “bolt” in hotter, drier weather so it’s important to keep them well watered.
- Watch out for slugs. And Rabbits. Pests and diseases aren’t a huge problem with salad leaves but you will need to keep them protected from slugs and if you have rabbits it’s a good idea to cover them with a net.
- It’s better to pick them than let them get too big. Even if you’re not planning to eat your lettuce that day it is a good idea to harvest any larger outer leaves and pop them on the compost pile. This will encourage the plant to keep growing rather than bolting and going to seed, and they’ll add lots of nutrients to your compost pile too.