Growing lettuce for the home garden – part 2
This issue we look at the different kinds of lettuce available and which are best for your home garden.
As noted previously, when speaking of lettuce, people usually refer to the Iceberg kind, so-called because the leaves are crisp. However, I suggested breaking with tradition and planting the leafy Romaine type instead. Leaf lettuces have a higher nutritional value than the Iceberg kind and are less prone to spoil. They’re also more convenient.
Need a few leaves for a salad or hamburger? Simply remove leaves from the bottom of the plant when needed. The lettuce will continue producing, with harvesting going on for months. But the choice is yours, so let’s look at the other types of lettuce available.
This lettuce gets its name from the soft, buttery texture of the leaves, and is a favourite in Europe. The head is much smaller and less compact than Iceberg types, and is practical for the home garden if you like the texture. However, this type prefers milder conditions and will easily be stressed when it’s too hot or cold.
An upright lettuce that doesn’t make a head, but rather a compact whorl, or cluster, of leaves. It’s hardy and easy to grow.
The leaves have a crisp texture and can be eaten young. This type of lettuce is suitable for the home garden as you can harvest for a fairly long period from one planting.
There is a variety of these with different colours, textures, sizes and leaf shapes, making salads interesting. This is the type of lettuce the home gardener should consider. It can be harvested for up to two months, and sometimes longer, from one planting. You can directly sow or transplant seedlings. In the case of direct sowing, seed slightly thicker than the final stand you need. You can place the transplants close together and harvest five weeks after sowing.
Lettuce doesn’t have to only be planted in a vegetable patch. It can be planted as edible borders around pot plants, flower beds and even small trees or shrubs. I find the best home lettuce is Melody, with a great taste and a long picking period.
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