Lamb’s lettuce, also known as corn salad or mache, is a low growing salad with small dark green leaves and it is very hardy. Although it slows down its growth in the winter it can easily power through the dark months and provide you with fresh nutty leaves.
Lamb’s lettuce is best grown in the winter, spring and in the autumn. The seeds tend to germinate in around 7-14 days at an ideal temperature of 10-20°C. Make sure not to have the temperature in your Sprout mini-greenhouse set any higher as it can affect the germination. It is also best to sow every few weeks for a continuous harvest. Lamb’s lettuce grows well in full sun or partial shade.
Fill a tray with peat free multi purpose compost and water it. Sow the seeds a couple of cm apart and sprinkle 0.5-1cm of compost on top. Press down slightly to make sure that the seeds are in good contact with the compost and carefully water again. If you want to direct sow outside, space the rows 15cm apart.
Keep the soil evenly moist until seeds germinate, because if they dry out they will most likely not germinate at all. This can be aided with a plastic dome over the tray but it is not a must. As a general rule, the colder the soil the less moisture you need.
When the seedlings have emerged, thin them to 10cm apart. This can be done by cutting the rejects with scissors (eat them in a salad!) or carefully use a stick/pencil to loosen the soil and lift the seedling up by its leaves and transplant to elsewhere. Make sure they are big enough to handle before you set out to do this. As they mature, the plants will form a rosette of leaves that are slightly cup shaped. Thin the plants as required to provide room for them to reach full size. Transplant or eat the thinned plants. Water moderately throughout the growing season, and fertilise with an all-purpose blend when needed.
Lamb’s lettuce leaves can be harvested as soon as they are big enough to eat! It’s up to you if you like the small baby leaves, larger leaves or prefer to harvest the whole plant as a larger rosette. Plants will complete their growth cycle in 40-70 days, depending on conditions, and it is therefore best to have a continuous supply.
Slugs and snails tend to be the biggest problem when the plants are young. If you have a slug and snail problem in your garden, your Harvst Mini Greenhouse should assist you in keeping the plants safe!
Let some plants flower and go to seed and either collect the seeds or let them self sow! Lamb’s lettuce will self sow itself year after year if you let it!
Lamb’s lettuce botanical name is Valerianella locusta and it has been cultivated in Europe for many centuries as a salad green. It is especially rich in Vitamin C!