Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Is Lettuce for Summer only?

Who can give me some recommendations for varieties of Lettuce to grow outdoors during the Winter in the UK? I have some cloches which could be used for protecting them, but no greenhouse or polytunnel.

Last year I grew some "Winter Density" and some "All Year Round", but I'm looking for something better. "All Year Round" turned out to be a bit of a misnomer, and is really not suitable for cold conditions. Even with cloche protection it perfomed poorly. I want the sort of lettuce that will survive -10C and 6 inches of snow!

At present my Lettuce crop is limited to what fits into two large pots, and a few individual specimens tucked into the odd corner here and there. These will be used before the onset of proper Winter conditions.

These pot-grown ones look nice, but they are growing very slowly, which is not nornally a good thing with lettuce. Rapid growth usually means tender leaves, whereas slow-growing leaves can be tough.

I'm not sure what varieties those ones are, because they came from a mixed pack, but I can recognise the "Green Oak Leaf" and I'm fairly sure that the one on the right is  "Marvel of Four Seasons". The one seen in this next (close-up) photo is "Delicato".

This is also "Delicato", but growing in one of the raised beds, in the shadow of some big PSB and Cavolo Nero plants, so it has been starved of light. Look how pale and "delicate" it is. It's almost as if I had deliberately blanched it.

This next one is not a lettuce at all - it's a Radicchio "Firestorm" - but I just wanted to squeeze a photo of it in somewhere because I think it looks nice and more or less fits the theme!

It's still very small, but you can see that the inner leaves are beginning to curl inwards to make a heart. It'll get there in its own good time, and what's more it won't be too bothered when the weather turns chillier.


  1. Lovely!
    Veg Plotting blog is probably the very best place to find info on salad greens in the UK.
    Have wonderful day!

  2. I usually planted greens on the part shady area. In hot tropics climate, if we planted lettuces in full sun area, their taste somewhat bitter. Maybe full sunshine and hot temperature stimulate their sap production.

  3. I'd be interesting in any suggestions people have too on Winter lettuces. Wonder if rocket would grow ok?

  4. In France it's mostly lambs lettuce from now on. Although there is a variety that the locals let seed itself now and then use the selfseeded ones during the winter but haven't managed to lay my hands on any yet.

  5. I don't grow lettuce over winter, and not very much in summer, but I was going to suggest Winter Density. That's the only one I know of, I'm afraid.

  6. I struggle here to grow winter lettuce. I suspect the temperature is a little bit lower than Fleet which doesn't help. I suppose really I should use the greenhouse for some stuff over the winter. You have a lovely selection in your garden.

  7. WE don't grow lettuce over winter as we often don't visit the plot for a while if the weather is poor.

  8. I am hoping the raddichio that I planted this year do something. The kale is getting eaten and I have never had that problem with kale but this is a different variety (a green one, I forget the name) than the Red Russian that I usually grow.

  9. Good luck in your search for lettuce. Have you tried mache? That will certainly grow in your winter. Though the plants are tiny and it takes a lot of plants to get a salad.

  10. Every year I marvel at our subfreezing temps and you're still growing crisp greens - so nice to have a mild winter.

  11. I like to have a row or two of rocket for the winter. It survives quite well, and takes off again in spring.

  12. There's Arctic King and Valdor to try. Like all 'winter' lettuces it's all about withstanding the cold (so you can use what's already there) rather than putting on growth at this time of the year and they'll take off again late winter/early spring.

    There's also other leaves such as rocket, lamb's lettuce & radicchio (already mentioned), American land cress, Bull's blood beetroot, chard, various kales, mustards and winter purslane to help round out the winter salad bowl. I also grow loads of windowsill pea shoots + sprout a wide variety of seeds.


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