I love lettuces. Can never get enough of them. This year I was determined to get sowing nice and early and be eating my home-grown leaves by the end of May. Well, I found a mildish day at the beginning of March and optimistically sowed a number of small trays of lettuces. I popped them into my mini outdoor greenhouse (with no heat) and started to get excited. Six weeks on, and a lot later than I had planned, I’m pricking out these ‘All the year around’ lettuce seedlings above into modules. They’re rather on the leggy side due to the low light conditions and low temperatures that we’ve had in March.
However, these leggy stems can be twirled around into the soil when you’re pricking out your seedlings (I use a spindly crochet hook, although I can’t crochet) and hopefully, with much better light levels (hurrah!), should go on to be very healthy seedlings indeed. So far I’ve sown
- Ashbrook (a frilly loose leaved variety, but sadly they didn’t germinate-disappointing, but luckily a rare occurence these days!)
- Chatsworth (A chunky dark green Cos lettuce from Sea Spring Seeds, claiming to be virtually bitter free)
- Red Salad Bowl (another red frilly type from Sea Spring Seeds)
- All the year around (a soft butterhead, hopefully slow to bolt from Seed Parade)
but Michelle at Veg Plotting has sown an impressive 22 different varieties this year and is hoping to add a few more as part of her 52 Week Salad Challenge. Really looking forward to seeing how they all grow. I wish I had a bit more growing space! I’m just off to sow a few more varieties:
- Cocarde (a very tasty pointy upright reddish tinged oak leaf lettuce that I loved last year, available from Chilterns Seeds)
- Freckles (a fab lightish green Cos, spotted with reddy/brown markings, that gave me delicious salads all summer long last year. Originally from Sarah Raven, but grown this year from my own painstakingly collected seeds!)
- Navara (a deep red oak leaf from Sarah Raven, new to me this year)
- Forellenschluss (an heirloom Cos variety from Chilterns seeds, means ‘speckled like a trout’ and I wonder if this is very similar to/ the same as ‘Freckles’?)
Out of everything I grew last year, I think lettuces gave me the best return for the space and time they occupied. I loved experimenting with ‘no dig’ potatoes and rainbow carrots in pots-they were a true delight to unearth-but it was the lettuces that kept me in dinners all summer long, from June until August. I’m so looking forward to planting these seedlings out to create decorative displays (as well as supplying many meals) and I still have it firmly in my head to try and master successive planting of these leaves (sowing again in July and August), so that I can have salads all year round from my own garden.
p.s. I’ve also sown ‘Green in Snow’, ‘Red Knight Mizuna’ and ‘Broad leaved Mizuna’ to add a mustardy bite and extra texture to my salads.