Salad leaf crop sheet


There are a wide range of leafy crops that can be grown as salad leaves, such as mustard, sorrel and rocket.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Location: Outdoors
  • School term: Early Autumn, Early Spring, Late Spring, Early Summer, Late Summer
  • Level of experience: No experience needed
  • Subject(s): Maths, Science

Learning objectives

  • Learn how to sow seeds
  • Learn what seeds and plants need to grow
  • Learn to plant at a specified distance
  • Learn to harvest vegetables


Ensure the soil is well cultivated, watered and warm enough for seed sowing to take place.

Sow early crops under fleece, in a polytunnel or under cloches from March onwards.

Equipment needed

  • Rake or hand cultivator
  • Trowel and bamboo cane
  • Measuring stick
  • Seeds (check they are suitable to sow at that time of year)
  • Watering can with a rose
  • Enviromesh or horticultural fleece
  • Label and pencil

Step by step

  1. Make a drill (channel) in the soil 1.5cm deep. Use a measuring stick to keep it straight if using a trowel or push a bamboo cane into the soil to the correct depth.
  2. Take one pinch of lettuce or salad seeds at a time and sprinkle them along the drill evenly until you have a continuous row of seeds. 
  3. Cover the seeds and firm them with the soil using the back of a trowel. Water the drill using a watering can with a rose. Label the row and make another one 30cm away and do the same again.
  4. When the seedlings are about 4cm tall, thin them out so there is about 20-25 cm between each one. Salad leaves do not need to be thinned at all. Keep watering the crops in dry weather and remove any weeds.
  5. Harvest salad leaves as soon as they are ready. Spring sown lettuce can be harvested in summer, autumn sown (under cover) the following spring. 

Hints & tips

  • For individual lettuces you can sow seeds indoors in a pot and prick out single seedlings to grow on in pots or modules then plant outside.
  • Mixed salad leaves grow well in containers and window boxes.