Wednesday 18 June 2014

Bragging Rights - Lettuces

My lettuces this year have been amazing - and no-one is more surprised about this than me... How come they have been so good? Have I done anything special to them this year that I don't normally do? Is it just because of the weather?

Well, I think it is probably a combination of factors, but in my opinion the main factor is that I boosted the raised bed in which they are growing with some "special" compost - some of that composted stable manure that I bought from The Compost Centre in nearby Woking. It seems to have given my garden a real boost, which is exactly what I had hoped it would do. I can't recommend the stuff highly enough (especially in the light of the trouble I have had this year with various types of big-name composts bought from my local Garden Centre).

This very handsome lettuce is "Cervanek" (courtesy of Dominika in the Czech Republic). It is very similar to "Marvel of Four Seasons" which I have also been growing, except that the colours are more intense.

This is "Devin", from the same source. A really excellent "Butterhead" variety, with bright yellow inner leaves.

This is what "Devin" looks like when the outer leaves are removed after harvest. This type of lettuce is sometimes known as "Round Lettuce"...

And this is what it looks like on the inside:

You can see why this type of lettuce is known as the "Butterhead", can't you?

This next one is "Can-Can", one of the three varieties from the Sarah Raven Best Winter Lettuces pack. I don't yet know how it performs in the Winter, but it certainly seems to do OK in the Summer! It has an appearance very similar to many types of Curly Endive, but with none of the Endive's bitterness that some people dislike.


"Can-Can" - looks very like an Endive

And then there is this absolutely gigantic "Green Oak Leaf" lettuce!

"Green Oak Leaf"
I have posed it next to my green rubber Trug-tub, which often features in my photos, just to give you an impression of its size. Although this variety of lettuce is often advocated as a "cut-and-come-again" type, it is very densely packed and eminently suitable for picking whole.
"Green Oak Leaf"

I have been very good with my successional sowing regime too. I have sowed lettuce on four occasions so far, and have quickly replaced the ones harvested with new little seedlings so that there is no gap in production.

Let me finish with a piece of advice: If I were you I would not use old seed for growing lettuce. I have found this year that brand-new seeds have performed hugely better than old ones. I had several part-packs of lettuce seed from previous years, and I have sown a lot of seeds from them, but not only were the germination rates very poor, but also the plants from those that did germinate have been noticeably weaker and none of them have done well. Significantly I have not shown you in this post any of the "Webbs Wonderful", "All Year Round" or "Delicato" varieties - of which I have managed to produce only one or two rather weedy specimens!


  1. Your lettuces look great.
    I haven't been able to harvest even a full salads worth because I've got groundhogs this year :(
    I really need to build up a fence.

  2. These really do look fantastic, I especially love the look of the Devin 'butterhead'. I sowed the mortons secret mix this year and it's also turned out well despite me doing little to it. It seems to have grown particularly well at the pre school allotment where it's been left alone!

  3. Some gorgeous colours, so vibrant. Interesting findings from your old seeds, I don't think it matters using old seed for some things but there's obvious differences between old and new in some things.

  4. That Cervanek look so gorgeous. I've certainly used old seed though. I still find it grows quite well. But I use a lot and thin to the good seedlings, so that could be the reason why.

  5. You certainly do have lettuce bragging rights, those heads are beautiful. I've had the same experience with old lettuce seeds, they just don't do well. I think most commercially produced composts are not good because they overheat them and kill all the beneficial organisms. I'm finding that the more attention I pay to the health of my soil the better my garden grows.

  6. Your lettuce is so beautiful and that butterhead is just stunning! Whatever you did, the results are worth bragging about!

  7. They look great Mark, very clean & no mollusc damage!

  8. they look brilliant Mark and very very tasty

  9. Amazing! Fresh, healthy and green :)

  10. very good lattuces Mark, they seems very fresh from the pictures!!

  11. Your lettuce is beautiful - I'd take a bouquet of that over flowers any day.

  12. The same here, mark. I think it is the weather. And besides, they are so tasty. I had one for lunch yesterday.

  13. That is some really beautiful lettuce Mark. Thank you for the fresh seed tip!!

  14. I'm going to regret saying this but have slugs been less of an issue with lettuce this year? They seem to hae gone for more unusual things like gunnera leaves and anything else but so far - not lettuce?

    1. Maybe slugs have food fads and fashions just like humans? Gunnera is the IN thing you know!


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