Salads and lettuces are some of the easiest crops to grow on an allotment, and also one of the freshest tasting. The crunch of a homegrown lettuce genuinely beats the shop bought alternatives hands down.
Here are 5 different techniques I’ve used to successfully grow tasty salad and lettuce crops.
The lettuce is the mainstay of salad growing, and everyone loves a crispy Kos. There a number of ways to grow lettuces, but my favourite is to sow in seed trays and then transplant seedlings into the open soil when they’re about 4 inches high.
When you pull the seedling out of the tray, try to keep as much soil around the roots as you can, and water it in once planted. Push the soil in firmly around the base to help the seedling stand up.
You can also sow directly and thin out. If you do this, replant the thinnings, as most will take giving a much improved yield and then water them in well.
Cut and Come Again Salad
Cut and come again salad leaves are now really popular, and I can definitely see why. As you pick, new leaves come through, meaning they’re a great value for money crop as well as a good use of space.
Sow directly in a block or row, and just let the leaves come up. Pick when they’re small for the sweetest, most delicate leaves. A row of cut and come again will last you a couple of months.
The seeds are small though, so if your soil is hard from the sun, try covering the row with multi-purpose compost. This is a much softer surface for the seeds to poke up through.
You can also try cut and come again varieties in containers. Troughs and window planters make perfect vessels for growing salad leaves, and are an excellent choice if you’re lacking in space.
I like growing some salad in containers in the garden, so we can nip out the back door and get crisp and fresh salad as and when we need it.
And remember, don’t stop sowing lettuce and salad! Successional sowings, every 2-3 weeks, will keep you in leaves all through the summer.
You can even harvest salad leaves in the winter too, and you don’t necessarily need a greenhouse. Peppery Oriental greens, such as Mizuna, Green in Snow and Serifon are incredibly hardy and will provide cut and come again crops when the weather turns.
I sow rows around August time, and in the past it has only been the snow that has killed the crops off. Of course, if you’ve got a greenhouse there is a good chance of feasting on fresh winter salad leaves even when the days are short and the temperatures cold.