How are the largest heads formed?

Growing lettuce:
As simple as that!

Whether lettuce, cut or pick lettuce, whether in a bed, raised bed or pot - salads are easy to grow, tasty and surprisingly diverse.

Salad: healthy and tasty

Salad (Lactuca sativa) is a delicious side dish on the plate, but it is the absolute star in the bed: The delicious vegetables are easy to grow and promise gardening beginners a sense of achievement. Lettuce has a short shelf life, so it is quickly ready for harvest if there are not hordes of snails rummaging over the bed.

Incidentally, salad has been part of European cuisine for around 100 years. The sight of it has become so natural to us that it is hardly noticeable for what it is: an indispensable part of any balanced diet.

Of course, a lettuce leaf consists of more than 90 percent water, but there are also vitamins A and C and lots of folic acid. It's good for diabetes, high blood pressure and many other chronic diseases.

If you include the close relatives, i.e. chicory, endive and radicchio in the equation, the salad is also at the forefront when it comes to vitamins and minerals. So there are many good reasons to get your salad from your own garden every day.

Grow different salads for every taste

A distinction is made between lettuce and lettuce. Lettuce form a more or less firm head and you only harvest it once. Picked salads form very loose heads, which disintegrate into individual leaves after they have been completely cut off. You harvest little by little, the lettuce sprouts again. It is best to harvest from the outside in, as soon as the leaves are a good 10 cm long. The heart leaves must be preserved, otherwise the harvest will be over.

If you leave the stem and the outermost leaves in the ground of the lettuce, new shoots with tender leaves will often form again if the soil is good, which you can then harvest like lettuce. There is also lettuce, which also only forms loose leaves, which, in contrast to the lettuce, are harvested all at once - above the tiny heart leaves, then the lettuce drifts through and forms fresh leaves.

Easily growing lettuce in the garden

You can plant lettuce as a pre-grown young plant or sow it directly. The preculture shortens the standing time in the bed protected with fleece by weeks, in the cold frame you can also advance the sowing by weeks. From April / May and from July direct sowing with subsequent singulation is more recommended. Because directly sown lettuce is less prone to shooting, as seedlings root deeper than young plants and therefore have better access to water supplies in the soil. That's why you have to water less.

Lettuce is a light sprout, press a groove only 0.5 cm deep into loose soil with the back of the rake, scatter the seeds at a distance of 30 cm and carefully close the groove. Water the bed and put a fleece over it to protect the plants from snails and other pests. So that everything doesn't ripen at once and you don't know where to go because of the lettuce, you sow every two weeks from June to October. You do not have to fertilize in loose, humus soil.

This is how easy it is to grow your lettuce yourself:

1

Loosen the soil and remove weeds

Before planting or sowing, the soil is thoroughly loosened and all weeds are removed.
Lettuce is frugal, likes a little sun and deep, well-drained soil.

Additional fertilization is not required for lettuce.

You can plant pre-grown lettuce plants in the bed after about four weeks.
But first get the young plants used to sunlight before you plant them out.

You need a planting distance of about 30 x 30 cm.
Lettuce "wants to flutter in the wind", otherwise there is a risk of rot or delayed head formation.

3

Water the lettuce sufficiently

Water regularly: lettuce needs a lot of water, otherwise the leaves will become hard, it grows slowly and tends to shoot up.

When the heads close, you shouldn't shower lettuce over it, but rather pour it onto the outside of the ground because of the risk of rot and snails.

This is how snails leave your salad alone

The voracious mollusks are the greatest enemy of all salads and can devour entire beds in one night. There are no bouncers for salad beds, but there are bodyguards. Whole beds can be secured with snail fences, individual plants with a plastic lettuce collar. The bent edges are insurmountable for snails - as long as no leaves serve as a bridge.

It is best to water in the morning, because after watering in the evening, the soil and leaves stay moist for a long time - perfect for snails.

Tagetes acts as a distraction as it is also attractive to snails.

Danger: The often recommended beer traps lure snails into the garden from a greater distance.

Tip:
Plant the young lettuce high in the bed

Young lettuce needs air around its neck, it no longer grows upwards, but forms the new leaves right at the roots. The square earth press cubes, in which you usually buy young plants, offer a good reference point for planting. Plant them so deep that these earth cubes are almost halfway out of the ground. Sounds strange, but salad loves it that way.

Find the right type of salad

The selection of salads is very large. And each variety has its strength and its very own taste.

Salad

Sorts: ‘American brown’, ‘Yellow cut’ (light green leaves), baby leaf seed mix (variegated leaves), "Misticanza" (mix with bitter chicory salads), ‘Colorful salad platter’

Sowing: Depending on the variety or seed mixture, direct sowing outdoors from mid-March to early September

Planting: Not common. Tip: The small plants that are pulled out when they are isolated grow back on immediately after being planted

Harvest: Early seeds are ready for harvest about 6 weeks after sowing, and from early summer even after 20 days

Lettuce

Sorts: Year-round cultivation: ‘Neckar giants’, ‘Ovation’. Spring and autumn: "Larissa", "Maikönig", "Rolando". Summer varieties: ‘Kagraner Sommer 3’, ‘Wunder von Stuttgart’, ‘Attracie’

Sowing: Early varieties from March in the cold frame or outdoors (under fleece). Summer varieties from May, winter lettuce from September

Planting: Prepare salads from March in the cold frame or under fleece. Subsequent rates April to September, in the cold frame until October. Distance 25-30 cm

Harvest: Depending on the season, 10–14 weeks after sowing or 7–8 weeks after planting. Harvest ripe heads within 1 week (risk of lapping!)

Batavia

Sorts: ‘Doree de Printemps’ (light green heads), ‘Tarengo’ (leaves tinged with red), ‘Teide’ (red-leaved), ‘Rouge Grenobloise’ (red heads with a green heart), ‘Maravilla de Verano’ (tinged red)

Sowing: March to mid-August in pots or directly in the bed. Protect early outdoor seeds with fleece

Planting: Early seedlings from March in the cold frame or outdoors (under fleece). Follow-up rates until the beginning of September. Distance 30-35 cm

Harvest: 8-10 weeks after sowing as soon as firm heads have developed. Cut whole heads or pick individual leaves

Pick salad

Sorts: ‘Bjella’, ‘Cerbiatta’ (green, serrated leaves), ‘Navara’ (red-green colored), ‘Sirmai’ (deep red leaf tips, light green heart), ‘Lollo Rosso’ and ‘Lollo Bionda’ (red and green coleslaw)

Sowing: Preculture under glass in February / March. Sow outdoors from April to mid-August

Planting: Under fleece or foil from mid-March with follow-up sentences every 4–6 weeks until the end of August / beginning of September. Distance 25-30 cm

Harvest: 12-14 weeks after sowing or about 8 weeks after planting. Cut whole heads or pick individual leaves

Romana

Sorts: ‘Attico’ (green heads, yellow heart, aphid resistant), ‘Brun d’Hiver’ (nutty, strong green leaves), ‘Valmaine’ (dark green, robust)

Sowing: Preculture from the beginning of March under glass, outdoors from mid-April and mid-June to mid-July

Planting: After 3–4 weeks of preculture from March to May and mid-July to mid-August. Distance 25-35 cm

Harvest: Approximately 12 weeks after sowing, 8–10 weeks after planting, as soon as firm heads have formed and before the stem stretches

Ice cream salad

Sorts: ‘Fortunas’ (aphid-resistant), ‘Great Lakes’ (bolt-proof, fresh green heads), ‘Laibacher Eis 4’ (yellow-green, red-washed, aromatic leaves)

Sowing: From March (preculture under glass), from April to the end of July, direct sowing outdoors is also possible

Planting: After 3–4 weeks of preculture, in April at the earliest until mid-August at the latest. Distance 30-35 cm

Harvest: May to October, around 12 weeks after sowing or 8 weeks after planting

endive

Sorts: Smooth endive: ‘Bob 2’, ‘Diva’ (self-bleaching, well-filled yellow heart), ‘Escariol green’ (frost-tolerant) Curly endive (frisée): ‘Wallone’ (cold-resistant), ‘Jolie’ (also for the summer harvest)

Sowing: Mid-June to July, directly outdoors or preculture in pot plates

Planting: Mid-July to mid-August. A close planting distance (30 cm) ensures mild, pale lettuce hearts

Harvest: From mid-September to the beginning of November, robust varieties such as ‘Wallone’ and ari Escariol greener ’until after the first frost