23 February 2013

The seeds in the greenhouse which are germinating most enthusiastically at the moment are the lettuce. I think this is one of the vegetables where growing your own is really worthwhile: in the supermarkets you tend to get cos, butterhead, and that’s it. Even worse are the bags of mixed salad, which are not only very expensive for what you get, but often of dubious quality in my experience.

Close up of lettuce leaves in sunshine

Close up of lettuce leaves in sunshine

If you grow your own lettuce, there is a seemingly endless choice, providing a range of colours, textures and flavours. I tend to stick to loose leaf – also called cut-and-come-again – varieties, so I can pick off a few leaves for a meal and leave the rest to grow on. If you can, leave one plant to go to seed: not only will you then have free seeds to sow next year, but it is remarkable just how tall some varieties can grow. Don’t try saving seed from an F1 variety, though: it will not come true.

Although my seeds are in the greenhouse, they don’t need heat to germintate – in fact, they won’t germinate if the temperature is too high, so keep them cool. Lettuce aren’t just summer vegetables, there are varieties of lettuce you can grow for the winter; though you need to give them some protection, they are a lot tougher than you think.


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