Prepare your Christmas salad now

Early September may seem like a strange time to be thinking about Christmas dinner, but the BBCs gardening website recommends that now is the perfect time to be sowing seeds to provide fresh salad leaves for late December meals.

Although growing the leaves outdoors remains a possibility, a greenhouse is likely to provide the best results.

Providing as many nutrients as possible will give the best lettuce and so planting seeds in a mix of soil and well-rotted manure or compost will help matters.

It is possible to grow lettuce outside but it is essential to cover the seeds with a fleece or cloche to keep them warm if a cold snap is expected, the website warns.

"Harvest leaves from cut-and-come again lettuces when plants are about five centimetres high, or allow the plants to grow to about 15 centimetres and cut the whole head off leaving a three centimetres stump – a new plant should soon re-sprout," the site recommends.

Planting them should be a relatively simple task and take less than half an hour.

With a bit of care, and a fair amount of watering, the lettuces should be ready for garnishing around Christmas time.