Growing loose leaf lettuce

Sometimes called chicken lettuce, these varieties are not harvested whole, nor do they form a heart like cabbage and cos lettuces, but individual leaves are picked as required. This cut—and—come again approach is useful as it allows space to be used for other crops. With the advent of frilly varieties like Lollo Rossa with red leaves, these lettuces are becoming very popular in gourmet salads. The long established variety Salad Bowl is now also available with red leaves as well as the standard green.

How to grow lose leaf lettuce

Leaf lettuces should he grown as outdoor summer crops like crispheads, and need the same light, moisture retentive soil as other types.

Harvesting loose leaf lettuce

Leaves are produced throughout the summer. Pick a few from each plant as needed, When all leaves have been used or died down, lift and discard the plant.

Pests and diseases

Aphids, which may carry virus diseases; slugs are a nuisance. Cold and wet weather encourages mildew and mould.

Cultivation summary

– suitable for growing in small plot

– prefers sunny location

– seeds sown 2cm/0.75 inch apart in rows 30cm/12in apart

– thin seedlings to 30cm/12inch apart

– cropping takes around 2 months

Loose leaf lettuce growing tips

Grow an alternating border os differently coloured and shapes loose-leaf lettuce to provide a decorative edging to a vegetable, herb or flower bed. Choose from red and green oak-leaved, the frill edged red and green Lollo or red leaved Marvel of Four Seasons. Picking a few leaves from each plant will give you an attractive salad that can be enhanced by adding borage or nasturtium leaves and flowers from your garden.