Lettuce & Oriental Greens

Growing Lettuce & Oriental Greens

Lettuce

With the wide variety of lettuce now available, it is possible to have crops all year round. ‘Butter’ lettuces have an open habit, are quick-maturing and tolerate poorer growing conditions; the ‘cos’ varieties have an upright growth habit and oblong head; whilst the "crisphead’’ types produce large hearts of curled and crisp leaves and are more resistant to bolting (going to seed prematurely). Finally, there are the looseleaf varieties; these are cut-and-come again types where you simply cut as many leaves as you want and leave the plant to continue growing.

Sowing:

Sow a short row every fortnight to ensure continuity of cropping. Sow seed thinly 5mm deep in rows 25cm apart. Sow year round as required, avoiding the hottest and coldest months of the year.

Growing:

Start thinning as soon as the first true leaves appear and continue until the plants are 25-30cm apart, 20cm for dwarf, compact varieties and 15cm for looseleaf types. If you water the soil the day before thinning and do it carefully, the thinnings can be planted out to give a slightly later crop. Water frequently as lettuce has a very shallow root system; the best time to water is early morning.

Varieties:

All Year Round, Gourmet Mix, Great Lakes, Green Cos, Green Mignonette, Iceberg, Mixed Salad, Red & Green Salad Bowl,Red & Green Organic.

Harvesting:

Lettuce is ready when a firm heart has formed; the exception to this are the loose-leaf varieties where leaves are harvested as and when needed. It is best to cut in the morning when the plants will be at their freshest.

 

 

Oriental Greens

In recent years we have started to eat a wide range of other salad crops - including Oriental salads which add superb and often subtle flavours to our salads. Many of the Oriental types can also be used in stir-fries - another area we are experimenting more and more with. Most can be sown at high density and used as a cut-and-come-again crop. The following types are available.

 

Rocket

Adds a pepper flavour to salads, sandwiches and can be lightly cooked too. Sow any time of the year except the coldest months and crops will be ready to pick in about four weeks. Pick the leaves individually.

 

Chinese Cabbage

Chinese cabbage can be sown almost any time of the years, bar the coldest winter months. In tropical regions they are best planted April to August. Sow at 10cm intervals and thin to 30cm apart. Keep well-watered in dry weather. They are ready to harvest 8-10 weeks from sowing.

 

Mizuna

A versatile vegetable with a mild flavour that can be sown all year round apart from the coldest months. The small seedlings can be used in salads, the larger plants in stir-fries - even the flowering shoots are edible.

 

Mustard

This has a mild but tangy flavour and looks very attractive in salads or stir-fries. Sow all year round apart from the coldest months.

 

Pak Choi & Bok Choi

An attractive vegetable that is easy to grow and quick to mature. It can be used young as a 'baby veg' or left to mature. Sow all year round except for the coldest months. Great in stir-fries.