Lettuce Tape (Little Gem Seed)
Easily the most popular type of lettuce to grow at home. This versatile sweet tasting mini-cos produces small, perfectly formed heads of tightly packed leaves. Remarkably quick and easy to grow, these seeds are pre-sown on a biodegradable seed tape, making sowing quick and efficient and reducing thinning out later on.
Sow outdoors March to July. Make narrow trenches 1.5cm deep and spaced 30cm apart. Separate and unroll the seed tape and place in the trench. Place soil or a stone on one end and gently pull the tape straight, then carefully cover with fine soil. Keep the soil moist and weed free at all times. Seedlings should start to appear after approximately 7-14 days. If seedlings do happen to get overcrowded then thin the crop as it grows by taking plants evenly from the row. It is good practice to water well after thinning out, to wash any dislodged soil back around the roots of the remaining plants. Sow a new row every 2-3 weeks to extend your harvest period, ensuring there are always perfect, fresh new plants available. Early sowings will benefit from cloche protection in cold weather.
Top Tips About Seeds
- Once the seed packet has been opened, the seed tapes can be stored in an airtight container until required for further sowings.
- These seeds are best used fresh and repeated sowing through the summer is highly recommended so they are unlikely to last more than one season
Seed tape is not suitable for pots but short lengths could be used in raised beds and large troughs.
Plants can bolt, stopping the growth of leaves and running to seed too early, if stressed by drought or by extremely hot weather, especially if grown in exposed locations. Grow in a sheltered location and ensure the soil is kept moist at all times.
Harvest from late May to October. Leaves can be picked at any stage, from baby leaves to mature plants. Pick a few leaves from each plant and they will regrow quickly without stressing the plants too much. This will allow for a good number of regular harvests. Alternatively pick whole plants as required.
Ideas on using your Little Gem Tape
If thinning out is required just take alternate plants as they start to get overcrowded, allowing the remainder to grow on. These thinnings can then be used as baby leaves. When picking lettuces or lettuce leaves it is best done in the cool of the morning or evening, as this is when they are at their best.