June 19, 2009

Grow your own Lettuce 2009

  • PLANT: ‘Lollo Rossa’ Lettuce – ‘cut and come again’ type
  • LIKES: Being kept moist and not too hot
  • WATER: in the morning or midday to reduce risk of disease
  • THIN OUT: packet says to 23cm (9in) apart, but I disagree!
  • USEFUL VIDEO: http://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/projects/salad-leaves-seeds-grow/


I’ve gone from ‘not wanting to plant anything this year’ to ‘planting anything I can get my hands on!’ This might sound sad but I do get a bit of a buzz from actually making something grow from a little seed!


So I’ve been well and truly bitten by the gardening bug and I’ve ordered a raised bed kit from Harrod Horticultural. It’s made by Link-A-Bord and it basically just clicks together – more info once I actually get it and put it together!


I’ve got loads of seeds I need to germinate first though, which I got from the BBC website as they were giving away packs of free vegetable seeds. They’re meant to be for kids to encourage them to get into gardening as part of their Dig In campaign, but I couldn’t resist getting some for myself!


They’ve run out of packs now, so I was lucky to get the seeds and what’s even better is they’ve sent me everything I like to eat! I got seeds for butternut squash, carrots, beetroot, lettuce and tomatoes.


As I’m already growing tomatoes, I decided to try the Lollo Rossa lettuce first as I’ve heard it’s really easy to grow. I planted the seeds in an empty ice cream tub, which I first filled with some crocks and multi-purpose compost. Then I just sprinkled some seeds on top, lightly covered with compost and gave them some water. I covered them with cling film that had some holes punched in it to increase humidity and placed on a sunny windowsill.

I planted on 29 April and after only a few days the seeds sprouted!

The photo below was taken on 4 May:

Lettuce 4 May 09

The instructions said to thin the seedlings out, so I pulled out the weaker plants. The plants should be a spade-width apart, but I’ll have to wait until I’ve got my raised bed before I can do this. I couldn’t believe how much they grew in one day.

The photo below was taken on 5 May:

Lettuce 5 May 09

The photo below was taken on 8 May:

Lettuce thinned out 8 May

The lettuce is coming on a treat and as I still haven’t got my raised bed yet I decided to thin out the lettuce even more by putting some of the seedlings into peat pots. This should give the rest in the ice cream tub more room!





The photo below was taken on 10 May:

Lettuce 10 MayWell the lettuce didn’t seem to appreciate being move about and I think I’ve killed all the seedlings! I put all my plants outside to get some decent sunshine, hoping that they would perk up but they’re still in a very sad state! I’ve sown some more and if they sprout then I’ll definitely just leave them alone and not bother thinning them out.












The photo below was taken on 18 May:

Lettuce 18 May

Lots of the new seeds I sowed have sprouted and I haven’t thinned them out but just left them alone to grow. Some of the older seedlings actually did perk up and are growing quite well now.




The photos below were taken on 22 May:

Lettuce in bed

Well the lettuce leaves are starting to change colour and are going from green to purply-red, which is a good sign. None of them want to stand up straight though! So I’m hoping the big move to the raised bed and a deeper pot will improve their posture!




Lettuce in a pot


The photo below was taken on 1 June:

Lettuce 1 June

The lettuce seedlings that I moved to the raised bed did grow bigger, but they were still very floppy. So I sowed lots more seeds directly into the bed to see if they would grow stronger. As you can see they have all sprouted! Then I read that I should thin them to 9 inches apart! That’s going to be a bit tricky since there are so many new seedlings and I don’t actually have that much space in the raised bed for them, so I’ll have to thin them as best I can!







The photos below were taken on 13 June:

Lettuce 13 June

I did thin the lettuce out a little bit by pulling out the odd seedling, but really I’ve just left it to its own devices and it’s just grown and grown! I’ll start cutting it and eating it this week, hopefully it’ll taste good!





Lettuce pot 13 June















The photo below was taken on 19 June:

Lettuce in a roll

Today I picked my first lot of lettuce and had it in a roll with some ham. Quite a momentous day for me as a kitchen gardener as it’s my first taste of what I’ve grown this year (the first few red strawberries don’t really count as the plant was from last year!).

I’d been worried using water from the water butt would somehow taint the flavour, but the lettuce tasted fine. Actually it didn’t really taste of much! But then I don’t recall Lollo Rossa from the supermarket having much flavour anyway. So this will probably be my last blog post on the lettuce!


I’ve concluded that the best way to grow lettuce is to sow it straight into the raised bed/pot as they really don’t like being transplanted/moved. They grow much stronger, rather than all spindly. Thinning out seems to be totally unnecessary as the leaves grow just fine being close together.


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