Sun or partial shade
Lettuces and leaves need some sunshine, but will tolerate partial shade (and in fact this can often help to keep them cool and prevent them from bolting) and moisture-retentive soil.
Great for beds, containers and planters
Lettuces and salad leaves don’t require a lot of space, making them perfect for growing in pots and containers, grow bags, planters and beds.
How far apart?
As a general rule, give them about 15cm space. As always, you should check the instructions on each variety when you receive your baby plants to make sure you give them enough space.
Keep them cool
Lettuces and salads will keep producing lots of leaves for several weeks if kept fairly cool – regular watering, mulching and growing them in partial shade can help. If they do get too hot, they are prone to ‘bolt’, and will stop producing leaves and instead start to form a flower/seed head.
Protect from pests
Slugs, snails and rabbits are the main ones to watch out for… slug traps using cheap lager work well, and a 1-2ft tall fence around raised beds, made out of bamboo canes and chicken wire, will normally help to keep rabbits at bay.
When to harvest
Most lettuces and leaves can be harvested as cut-and-come-again – just cut off the outer leaves, leaving a few smaller leaves in the centre, on a regular basis.
For those that form a heart, like little gem, wait until they have matured and cut off at the stalk.