Five-minute tip to sow lettuce seeds – ‘can grow them all year round’

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Lettuce leaves are a versatile and healthy ingredient to incorporate into home cooking, whether it be as the base for a flavoursome salad or a side dish for a hearty dinner. Buying them from the supermarket has become increasingly expensive as food inflation continues to bump up prices, making them much cheaper to grow from scratch. A gardening expert at Newlands Nursery has shared the easiest way to grow this “rewarding” crop no matter what the weather.

Alan said: “We often think of these things, salad crops and things like that as summer foods but you can grow them all year round on a windowsill with no issue at all. And you get fresh, lovely salad all year round.”

He noted that even in the freezing cold weather, you “can still sow lettuce”. Alan said: “Just put it on the windowsill and it will germinate with no issue at all.”

Using an extra large cell tray meant for pots, the gardening expert explained that they work “really really well” for even small seeds like lettuce.

While sowing the seeds is easy, Alan explained that the leafy green crops need plenty of humidity to thrive. To “keep them nice and warm and humid”, the Newlands Nursery expert suggested using a glasshouse lid to place on top of the seed tray.

How to sow lettuce seeds

Start by filling each container with multipurpose compost. You don’t need “special” soil as lettuce “aren’t particularly fussy” and will “grow in almost anything”, according to Alan.

Next, level out the soil to ensure there are no big lumps and tap the tray a few times to eliminate any air gaps. When it comes to choosing the right seeds to sow, there is a range of varieties that will grow well on your windowsill.

At Newlands Nursery, Alan used the Nelson variety. In most packets, you tend to get a lot of lettuce seeds so you may not need to use them all if you decide to plant more than one type.

However, you should always add multiple seeds in each cell. Alan said: “I usually put them on my hand but I’m not going to do that this time.”

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He added: “I want multiple seeds in here but they are an absolute pain to get back into the packet if you don’t use them all.”

It doesn’t matter how evenly you divide them into the seed trays, just make sure they are spread out in each one to allow room to grow.

Warmth is essential to help the seeds germinate but they don’t have to be in an overly hot environment. Alan noted that a standard house would be fine.

He added: “The average temperature of homes in this country is around about 18-20C, and they will definitely germinate at that temperature. However, lettuce will also germinate slightly less quickly at 15C with no issue at all.”

The Newlands Nursery professional noted that when it comes to growing salad leaves, you’ll want them on your windowsill anyway which will be fairly warm.

Covering the seeds is another essential step before leaving them to grow into green seedlings.

A light layer of soil is all you need to do this. Once they are all covered, be sure to give the cells a generous amount of water.

According to Alan, you “can’t overwater them” at this stage, so don’t hold back. “However, lettuce will also germinate slightly less quickly at 15C with no issue at all.”

Finally, place the glass lid on top of the trays to “speed up” the germination process.

While Alan said that there is “no doubt” that the seeds will grow without the lid, using one means you can keep the humidity higher so you don’t have to water them as much.

Move the tray to a sunny windowsill and watch the plants sprout. Lettuces tend to do this “really quickly”, according to the gardening expert, and it could happen in just a matter of days.

Alan added: “Certainly within weeks you’ll start seeing little lettuce plants growing, so it’s a really rewarding one to do at home.”

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