Monty Don shares 1 vegetable that’s the ‘easiest of all plants grow’ – ‘tastes wonderful’

Monty Don has shared nearly 20 jobs gardeners need to be getting on with in April in his monthly gardening blog – several of which are vegetable planting suggestions.

The gardening pro claimed that lettuce is “one of the easiest of all plants to grow” and freshly harvested, home-grown lettuce “always tastes wonderful”.

He noted that lettuces grow best in mild, moist conditions so a hot, dry summer is as big a problem as a cold winter. 

However many lettuces are happy in some shade as this will keep them cooler. 

Monty urged: “To avoid a glut or, worse, your lettuce all running to seed at once in very hot weather, the secret is to have good succession – which essentially means maintaining a small but constant supply of plants rather than one big harvest. 

“To do this sow some new seed every three or four weeks and as one batch goes over another will be ready to eat with a third growing on as young seedlings.”

He explained that most lettuce takes about six to eight weeks to grow sufficiently large to eat and will be good for another month or so if kept watered and cool. 

A few seeds sown thinly will “provide healthier, leafier lettuces” rather than a mass of thick seedlings. 

As they appear, the 68-year-old recommends gardeners weed and thin carefully to a final spacing of at least four inches. 

For those who have a greenhouse it is best to sow into plugs and plant out the seedlings when they are growing strongly as “you cannot protect the delicate seedlings from slug attack”, warned Monty.

In terms of what lettuce variety to go for, Monty recommends that every gardener “experiments with different varieties until they find the ones that they like” but also to grow three or four different types and varieties at any one time throughout the year.

As his preference, Monty said that a good Cos lettuce aka Romaine is “best of all” – specifically Little Gem as they “will do well from an early sowing and certainly is always worth finding room for in the garden”.

The gardening pro shared that he grows red and green oak-leaf or salad bowl varieties. He said: “Red Salad Bowl tastes great and looks fantastic. Red lettuce grows slower than green ones and tends to be a little bitter – which I like. They are also less likely to be eaten by slugs than green leaves.”

Another vegetable Monty recommends planting now is new potatoes. He said: “The sooner you can plant seed for first earlies the sooner you can enjoy that delicious harvest that always tastes so much better than any that you can buy.”

To do so, make a v-shaped trench six to nine inches deep and place the seed potatoes about 12 inches apart along the bottom of it. 

Backfill the trench so that the soil forms a ridge along the length of it. Leave at least three feet between rows to allow for earthing up – digging more soil onto emerging foliage to protect them from late frosts. 

Monty added: “I also grow them in a raised bed simply pushing each seed potato in a six-inch deep hole made with a dibber with each plant about 18 inches apart in a grid.”

However, when you plant them, “always enrich the soil for potatoes with plenty of well-rotted manure or compost”.

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