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Growing and harvesting lettuce

by Jane Moore

I've grown an absolutely cracking crop of lettuces this year. The sad thing is that Paul and I haven't much felt like eating them due to the somewhat autumnal weather.

Jane Moore holding a freshly harvested lettuce on her allotmentI've grown an absolutely cracking crop of lettuces this year. The sad thing is that Paul and I haven't much felt like eating them due to the somewhat autumnal weather. It's been more the weather for toad-in-the-hole and shepherd's pie than salads and barbecues. It's supposed to be getting better in September; I'm quietly hopeful but not making any plans just yet.

But back to my lovely, though largely untouched, lettuces. I started them all off in cells (this method makes it so much easier to protect them from slugs and snails) and planted them out when they had a good clump of leaves. I always grow lettuces in a well-drained (and less slug-prone) bed close to my shed, so I can keep an eye on them.

I tend to try a few new lettuce varieties each year but always grow old favourites like 'Lollo Rosso', a cut-and-come-again type which keeps going forever in a cool summer like this. I love 'Little Gem' - one little lettuce makes a perfect salad for two, and I've grown the beautiful, wine-red 'Pandero' for the past couple of years for the same reason. For a classic green lettuce 'Buttercrunch' is a regular guest on my plot - it looks great and has a lovely flavour.

Most of the seed companies sell a lettuce mixture which is good value and fun as you don't quite know what you're getting - usually you get a nice mix of classics and bestsellers all in the one row. My row of mixed varieties is looking sadly complete, although they might get plundered in September, once the heatwave arrives...

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Gardeners' World Web User 02/09/2008 at 11:58

A few shredded lettuce leaves cooked with peas is delicious. Add a handful of chopped cooked bacon or ham just before serving. Yum!

Gardeners' World Web User 02/10/2008 at 19:24

I have just started on my lettuces about two weeks ago. They are in a propagator and have about three leaves on them. when would they be ready to plant out in the garden.Is this right time for them?

Gardeners' World Web User 13/10/2008 at 18:49

vee the allotment that i am on. the girls that run it. plant lettuces all year round. me i have not put any in for the winter. ill just eat others. ill just give it a go.its my first year on my if they are getting away with it. give it a go. you will never no until you try?

Gardeners' World Web User 23/10/2008 at 21:21

Joey you were right about the lettuce. i planted some outside in the garden and they are coming up nicely. thanks.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:37

Apparently the Romain lettuce comes from when the Papal seat moved to Avignon, France. Although you will have to ask a historian why, however the locals picked up the habit of lettuce growing which was eaten by the clergy. The leaves being lightly cooked, which was healthier in the days of poor sanitation.

Perhaps another reason why this plant was used was the fact that the sap contains mild opium compounds so would dull the pain of any medieval teeth?