How to Grow Lettuce Sutton

Growing lettuces from seed on a window sill or in a greenhouse is easier than starting them off in the garden. That way they don’t have to compete with weed seeds and the slugs can't get them.

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How to Grow Lettuce

How to grow lettuce - easy methods for success

It's easy to grow lettuce!

How to grow lettuce: Argh - the problems!

Planting lettuce is amazingly easy but good results can be dependent upon the weather. Too hot and your precious crop wilts or becomes dried out and not very nice to eat.

Too cold and wet and your lettuce plantings may struggle to grow, or be attacked by slugs (ugh!).

Most of the time though, it is easy to grow lettuce successfully. You just have to stick to a few simple guidelines.

So here's a brief guide to how to grow lettuce and how to avoid the pitfalls.

How to grow lettuce: growing from seed

How to grow lettuce - crisphead seedlings growing with an oakleaf lettuce

Crisphead seedlings and an oakleaf lettuce

Growing lettuces from seed on a window sill or in a greenhouse is easier than starting them off in the garden. That way they don’t have to compete with weed seeds and the slugs can't get them.

As long as you remember to keep them damp and check that they are not too hot or chilly, they can get off to a flying start.

You also need to avoid over-crowding - sow scatter the seed thinly.

How to grow lettuce:

Start them off in a seed tray

Use a seed tray which is deep enough to carry at least 3 cm of soil or more and fill it nearly to the brim with compost. Leave about 1 cm gap between the top of the container and the compost.

The best compost to use is seed compost but ordinary multi-purpose compost will do. I usually use peat-free composts these days as they are much more environmentally friendly. This is available in most garden centres.

Peat-free composts tend to be a bit more expensive and can be tricky to work with, especially for seedlings. But they are far more eco-friendly than peat based products because peat comes from irreplaceable peat bogs which are often home to rare birds, flowers and other wildlife.

Non peat composts are improving all the time, too, so there is really no real reason to keep on using peat-based ones.

You can also use your own homemade compost or even carefully sieved soil. You will find it much harder to avoid competing weed seeds if you go down this route. For the sake of the price of a bag of seed compost for your seedlings, I believe it's far less trouble to use a professional product.

How to grow lettuce:

Sowing lettuce seeds

Scatter the seeds across the surface of the compost.

The easiest way to do this is to take a pinch of seeds between thumb and forefinger and sprinkle them much as you would sprinkle salt on food. (Gently, though - you don't want to break them!)

Remember to sow thinly for best results; over-crowded seedlings will have to fight for space and light as they grow and may succumb to fungal infection ("damping off").

Cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost. Firm the compost down gently. If the compost is not damp already, then water it thoroughly, but not so much that it is sopping wet - the seeds will rot in conditions that are too wet.

Now cover your seed tray with cling ...

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