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Lettuce

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With the use of Frames, cloches, hot beds, polytunnels, greenhouse, outdoor beds and shady North facing borders in Summer, it is possible to have lettuce cropping 12 months of the year. Suitable varieties have to be chosen for the appropriate time of year.

 

Various types of luttuce are available, these are, roundheaded (butterhead) cos, semi cos, crisphead (iceberg type) and loose leaf.

 

The soil requirements are modest. A lettuce is 95% water and therefore needs a lot of it, as well as some warm weather. But not much else. How much water will depend on the soil type. More watering is required for sandy soils than on clay. Unfussy about pH, between 6.0 and 7.5 will grow lettuce OK. It is Nitrogen that keeps lettuce growing fast and healthy and therefore sweet and free of bitterness. A small amount of phosphates and potash is required. A high nitrogen NPK 3.1.1 base fertilizer should be raked in at sowing time. Liquid feed with a low strength high nitrogen liquid feed regularly.

 

Direct sowing in situ and then thinning out is preferable to raising plants in nursery beds and then planting out. Although lettuces do transplant with no difficulty, the check can induce premature bolting, especially when transplanted in Summer. The spacing is dependant on the variety, but in general 25cm x 25cm is about right.

 

Sow little and often. Lettuce does not hold for long, and will blow after a few days of reaching maturity. A short row sown every week will keep a succession of lettuce cropping throughout the year.

 

When a crop is finished, the ground can be lightly forked and raked and sown again with lettuce. Crop rotation isn't critical. Few pests and diseases trouble lettuce. Slugs are the biggest nuisense. Use slug pellets or one of the organic methods, such as a glass of beer sunk into the ground.




 

 

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