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How to Grow Lettuce

This crop is perhaps more of a salad or a vegetable to be eaten raw, but as this applies more or less to all the subjects dealt with it is included here. For example, probably as many peas are eaten raw as are cooked. Lettuce however, can be cooked as a vegetable. It makes an easily digested soup and supplies all the moisture required if when cooking new garden peas, beans and young carrots a few leaves are put in the bottom of the pan instead of water. Old plants which have bolted and gone to seed or gone tough at the end of the season are excellent when turned into soups. Two of the biggest mistakes made by unskilled lettuce growers are sowing too many at one time and pricking out the seedlings when they have become too big. ln spite of repeated advice to sow a "pinch" of seed it is a common practice for a lot to be sown at one time with a resultant glut for a week or two and then none for the rest of the year. Small wonder that fantastic prices are charged for inferior heads which are little more than leaves; yet with only a little care and trouble they can be had all the year round. This happy state does pre-suppose some form of glass protection but even without it they can be had from May till October. The reader will by now either have become bored and tired of the con­stant reference to a well-prepared sailor has resolved that his shall be in future well prepared.

But as this means nothing more than the regular digging at the right time and the addition of manure  in anticipation of sowing, no apology is offered for saying that the best, biggest and most succulent lettuces will be harvested from well-drained soil in good heart. Such a soil is especially necessary where plants have to stand the winter outdoors. Where a greenhouse is available a start may be made by sowing seed in boxes of light soil in a slightly heated greenhouse in January or February and either grown on in beds in the greenhouse or pricked off into boxes to be planted out in a cold frame or under cloches. A technique originated by the author for the small gardener is as follows and may be started in late March or April or in February if cloches are available.
how to grow lettuce

when half-grown leaving the others at 8 inches to develop fully. Treat the transplanted plants in the same way, that is, use up each alternate one when half-grown. When the first lot is nearly used up sow another half row in the same way and repeat until the end of June when it will be too late to transplant. After this date and up to the end of July, sow where they are to mature. Lettuces are so easy to grow that anyone can be successful if it is remembered to transplant early-s-not more than 2 inches high. Varieties are numerous and have been highly developed to meet special needs and to mature under different conditions and tempera­tures and anyone contemplating growing these for a sideline would do well to study the many varieties offered. Cos Lettuce, a tall, narrow leafed variety, is better grown in the southern half of the country. One of the biggest pests is root aphis which are greyish aphides which infest the roots and may kill the crop. They are especially troublesome during dry weather and soaking each plant with water. Sow a few seeds thinly in a drill half-way across the garden plot using a utility variety such as All the Year Round. When the plants are about an inch high, thin them out to 4 inches apart, removing the unwanted plants by lifting them carefully with a label or a pointed stick. Use as many of these plants as are necessary to plant up the remainder of the row again at 4 inches apart discarding the remainder of the seedlings unless the rows are less than 10 ft. (20 ft. in all) when another row can be planted with them. The thinned out seedlings will be ready for use some two to three weeks before the transplanted ones and both these and the seedlings left at  4 inches apart can have every alternate plant taken out and used

Good varieties

All the Year Round, Arctic King, Continuity, Cheshunt Early Giant, Hilde, and Webbs Wonderful. Tom Thumb hearts a little later than all of these but is ideal for the small garden. Cos varieties: Buttercrunch, Balloon, Little Gem (formerly known as Sugar Cos), Paris White and Winter Density.

 

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