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Quick tips for sowing lettuces

For summer to autumn harvests outdoor lettuces

Sowing depth: 3 to 6mm

Sowing temperature: Optimum is 18 to 21˚C, though seed will germinate well below optimum. Avoid temperatures over 25˚C.

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1. Single harvest of full-sized heads

  • Which letuces: all types
  • Where to grow: in the ground, large-compost filled containers or growbags.
  • Growing distances: 30x30cm between plants, reduced to 23x23cm for small varieties such as Tom Thumb and Bubbles.

Direct Seeding:

  • How to sow: Place 2 or 3 seeds in each 'post', thinning down to 1 seedling after germination.
  • When to sow:
    • For early crops:  Sow from mid-February to mid-March. If growing in containers, sow undercover and move containers outdoors when the weather warms up. If sowing in the ground outdoors, cover the area with a cloche or coldframe while the weather is cold.
    • For main crops: Sow outdoors from late March to late July.
    • For late crops: Sow outdoors from early to mid-August.

Transplanting:

  • How to sow: Place 2 or 3 seeds in each cell of compost-filled modular trays, thinning down to one seedling after germination.
  • When to sow: 
    • For early crops: Sow from mid-February to mid-March undercover.
    • For main crops: Sow undercover or outdoors from late March to late July. Avoid sowing undercover in hot weather.
    • For late crops: Sow outdoors from early to mid-August.
     
  • When to transplant: Transplant when the roots of the young plants fill their cells.

 

 

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2. Cut-and-grow-again for teenage leaves

  • Which lettuces: Leafy types.
  • Where to grow: In the ground, growbags or large compost-filled containers.
  • Growing distances: Anywhere between 10 x 10cm to 30 x 30cm between plants, depending on the size of leaf to be harvested. 

Direct Seeding:

  • How to sow: Place 2 or 3 seeds in each 'post', thinning down to 1 seedling after germination.
  • When to sow:
    • For early crops: Sow from mid-February to mid-March. If growing in containers, sow undercover and move containers outdoors when the weather warms up. If sowing in the ground outdoors, cover the area with a cloche or coldframe while the weather is cold.
    • For main crops: Sow outdoors from late March to late July.
    • For late crops: Sow outdoors from early to mid-August.

Transplanting:

  • How to sow: Place 2 or 3 seeds in each cell of compost-filled modular trays, thinning down to one seedling after germination.
  • When to sow:
    • For early crops: Sow from mid-February to mid-March undercover.
    • For main crops: Sow undercover or outdoors from late March to late July. Avoid sowing undercover in hot weather.
    • For late crops: Sow outdoors from early to mid-August.
  • When to transplant: Transplant when the roots of the young plants fill their cells.

 

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3. Cut-and-grow-again for baby leaves

  • Which lettuces: Leafy and cos types.
  • Where to grow: In the ground, growbags or large compost-filled containers.
  • How to sow: Direct sow seeds 1cm apart, leaving 10 to 13 cm between rows. After germination, thin down to 2 to 3 cm between seedlings.
  • When to sow:
    • For early crops: Sow from mid-February to mid-March. If growing in containers, sow undercover and move containers outdoors when the weather warms up. If sowing in the ground outdoors, cover the area with a cloche or coldframe while the weather is cold.
    • For main crops: Sow outdoors from late March to late July.
    • For late crops: Sow outdoors from early to mid-August.

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4. Easy Peasy Gardening for baby leaves

  • Which lettuces: Leafy and cos types.
  • Where to grow: In compost-filled troughs or pots.
  • How to sow: Broadcast seeds quite thickly. After germination, thin down to leave 2-4cm between seedlings.
  • When to sow:
    • For early crops: Sow from mid-February to  mid-March undercover.
    • For main crops: Sow outside from late March to late July.
    • For late crops: Sow outside from early to mid-August.

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For more information on growing lettuces see