|Guarantee:||1 year growth and flowering guarantee|
|Harvesting:||May - October|
|Latin name:||Lactuca sativa var. longifolia 'Little Gem'|
|Leafs all year:||No|
Cos lettuce seed requires no prior treatment. Sow a new row of lettuce every 3 weeks or so and you will always have fresh lettuce to hand.
How to Sow
From January to October in the garden.
In December and January in the cold frame.
Sowing can be done in 2 ways:
- In the garden, preferably in full sun, from mid-January up to October. Loosen the soil with a fork to at least 30 cm. Draw a straight furrow 1 cm deep and label the row. Mix the seed with some dry sharp sand and sow lightly along the row. Cover with 0.5 cm soil, press lightly down and sprinkle with water. Sow extra rows at 20 cm apart.
- Under glass, can be done in the winter using a cold frame. Fill your trays with good, fine soil. Mix the seed with dry sand and sow evenly over the top of the soil. Cover with a layer of soil to 0.5 cm. Press lightly down and sprinkle with water. Cover with a sheet of glass and place in the cold frame. Once germinated, the glass can be removed.
Water extra in periods of drought, keep the bed free of weeds and your lettuce will then grow well. Lettuce enjoys a well-fertilised soil so if you want them to grow big and healthy, add a good fertiliser to the watering can regularly.
Harvest your lettuce in May-October – earlier, and for longer if you have used a cold frame.
You need to prevent your lettuce from ‘bolting’. This is when it forms a flower stalk that shoots out of the centre of the lettuce. You will notice that the plant suddenly grows taller and if left, it will eventually flower. This usually happens in the summer but varies per variety. Bolted lettuce is still edible but has a more bitter taste. Try and pick your fresh lettuce before it bolts. The outer leaves can be picked first, leaving the centre of the lettuce to continue to grow.
Harvest cos lettuce in one of two ways:
- Use a sharp knife and cut the whole head off at about an inch above ground level.
- Use a rake and flip the whole head up out of the soil, roots and all.
Cos, or Romaine Lettuce has tasty, tender leaves, because of its shape the light can barely, or even not at all, reach the heart of the plant. Some varieties need a bit of help - they need to be tied up to keep the centres dark. Nowadays, varieties have been developed that form a dense head of lettuce that no longer needs to be tied.
Cos lettuces have nice green heads with a pale yellow leaf on the inside. Quite a sharp flavour compared to 'normal ' lettuce, it can taste quite bitter (like chicory or endive). It actually resembles the iceberg lettuce more than common lettuce due to its sturdy leaves. Cos lettuce ‘Little Gem’ is somewhere in between – sturdier than common lettuce with leaves not quite as thick as the iceberg – but tastier!
Romaine or Cos lettuce belongs in the family of Lactuca sativa.