Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)
Even the smallest garden should be able to produce a few lettuces in the hot weather on demand. It is a salad crop of particularly easy culture, requiring nothing more than ordinary well-dug, raked to a fine surface, and well supplied with decaying so that it retains moisture.
Seeds can be sown broadcast or in drills, the secret of outdoor culture being to thin out theearly so that they do not crowd one another. In the larger kitchen garden or allotment an excellent place for growing outdoor is on the ridges between the celery trenches.
Culture under glass is equally simple. Ordinary seed-boxes filled with a preparedcan be used and the seedlings pricked out later into pots, deeper boxes, or the soil of the cold frame, according to season. The secret of good cultivation is to keep them steadily growing from the time the seeds are sown until the lettuce is cut. Any check, such as is given by lack of moisture or sudden change of temperature, will make the plants tough and less desirable on the table or on the Show bench.
When lettuces are staged for exhibition they should be large and compact, not ready to go to seed. The roots are washed clean, and will look well staged singly in clean flower pots.
Useful varieties for home cultivation are: Cabbage varieties (those of round-like growth): ‘All the Year Round’, ‘Continuity’. Cos varieties (tall lettuces, usually encouraged to “heart” by tying them loosely with raffia a week or two before they are ready for the table): ‘Mammoth White’, ‘Cos Brown’, and ‘Hardy Winter White’.