Want something green this winter?
Grow lamb’s lettuce!
How? ‘Or what? That’s what we’re going to see here…
Lamb’s lettuce growing conditions
Lamb’s lettuce is very resistant to frost but is afraid of heat (which is why it is mainly grown from the end of summer).
Cultivation under shelter (greenhouse or Nantes tunnel) will significantly reduce the risk of cryptogamic diseases and animal damage. Yields will also be much higher there (it grows much faster in fall and winter in a warmer environment).
But it is of course very possible to grow lamb’s lettuce outside.
Adapted to all soil types, it is still advisable to keep the soil of this crop free of weeds.
Lamb’s lettuce types
There are 2 types of chews:
- varieties with strong development, moderately resistant to cold: lamb’s lettuce with large seeds, from Italy, Valgros, etc.
- varieties with low development, much more resistant to cold: Etampes green, vegetable garden round, Coquille de Louviers, Cambrai green, Jade, green with a full heart, etc.
Fertilizing a lamb’s lettuce crop
Lamb’s lettuce is an undemanding crop.
If your soil is worked regularly and correctly, as a rule no additional fertilizer is needed.
If this does not work, add a little well-ripened compost between the rows at the beginning of the cultivation.
To take advantage of their shade (which promotes emergence), lamb’s lettuce can be sown between crops with vertical development at the time of sowing: tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, peppers, cabbage or even leeks.
sowing lamb’s lettuce
Direct sowing is done directly or in a line with a spacing of 15/20 cm and 0.5/1 cm on the line, in stale soil (ie the soil should not be prepared just before the seedlings, but on the contrary give it the time to restructure itself):
- for varieties with strong development: from mid-July to the end of August (harvest in autumn)
- for varieties with small development: in August and until mid-September (harvest throughout the winter)
It is also possible to sow in the nursery, in alveolate plates (for alveoli with a diameter of 4 cm, you can place 3 seeds, in staggered rows, per alveoli)…
Planting lamb’s lettuce
For sowing in cells, the clods are planted as they are (i.e. with 3 plants per cell if the emergence has gone well) about 1 month after sowing in the open ground:
- dig a small groove in the depth of your clods
- place the clods together
- fill the furrow by returning the discarded soil
- water abundantly
Cultivation of a battle crop
The soil should be kept clean by careful weeding.
At the beginning of the cultivation, when it is not raining, regular watering (at least once a week) is important to keep the soil cool.
After that, in most regions there is sufficient rainfall in autumn and winter for outdoor crops (continue to water regularly in greenhouses, about once a week).
It is also possible to mulch the crop (watch out for slugs and snails, etc.), but the thickness must be very low (less than one cm) so as not to suffocate this low-growing crop.
These are the main problems that can arise when growing lamb’s lettuce:
Damping is caused by a fungus that develops when the humidity is too high.
The seedlings die quickly and necrosis can be observed at the roots.
Water abundantly but sufficiently spread out.
Preventively soak the seeds in an undiluted horsetail decoction prepared with 50 g of fresh plant per 1 liter of water.
Adding charcoal that has been incorporated into the soil before sowing is also said to have a preventive effect.
Growing indoors is generally sufficient to greatly reduce the chance of downy mildew.
Avoid absolutely too much nitrogen, but prefer a balanced fertilizer based on compost.
Adding nettle leaves and comfrey at planting, as well as spraying, will strengthen the plant.
Likewise, treatments with a decoction of horsetail and baking soda provide preventative protection against cryptogamic diseases (fungi) such as powdery mildew.
Prevent powdery mildew by avoiding poorly digested manure (especially fresh manure), planting enough distances and regularly ventilating the greenhouses.
The powdered decoction of horsetail as a preventive measure is useful, but has limited effect in conditions particularly favorable to the spread of the fungus.
The direct control is mainly done by spraying sulfur (allowed in organic, but I personally don’t use it…).
If it’s wet during emergence, slugs and snails can quickly ruin a corn salad crop.
Avoid mulching in this situation… and perhaps prefer to sow in the nursery (you will plant in the open ground when the plants are already somewhat developed).
Take preventive measures.
Harvest the lamb’s lettuce
In varieties with a small development, resistant to cold, the leaves are harvested one by one, as and when you need them (so you can harvest them from autumn to the end of winter).
In March-April, depending on the region and the weather, lamb’s lettuce comes into bloom… the end of the harvest. But you can let it seed perfectly and grow back spontaneously.
In varieties with large development (large seeds) cut above the collar; new little “rosettes” will form, allowing for a second crop if weather permits.