Lettuce Reine de Glaces
If you're only going to grow one lettuce make it Lollo Rosso (not this one!), because you can keep harvesting leaves from the same plant for months at a time. Reine de Glaces has to be harvested all in one go, so only add it to your plot if you have space.
That said, it's very easy to grow, has wonderful flavour, and the lime green leaves look striking combined with Lollo Rosso in a salad bowl.
Time from seed to plate: 12 weeks
Lettuce seed can be sown directly into your soil, but I prefer to sow in gutters. It's a quick way to sow, and it's easy to tease out individual plants for planting out. Fill the gutter with compost, firm and create a shallow groove down the centre about 1/2 an inch deep. Sprinkle the seed in sparingly, aiming for one every 1/2in or so. Water gently but thoroughly.
Sowing method: Gutters
Transfer your seedlings to your plot when they're 2-3in tall. Separate the plants from one another in the gutter using a trowel and plant out individually, leaving 12in between plants in both directions. Water in and scatter with some organic slug killer till the plants establish themselves.
Removing any decaying leaves from the bottom of your plants as they grow will also help to deter slugs.
Your lettuce will be ready around 12 weeks from sowing. Take a knife to the root and harvest the entire lettuce in one go, because this is a 'hearting' variety so you can't pull off individual leaves.
Soak the lettuce in water for five minutes after you've picked it to plump up the leaves. It will also store better in the fridge if you do this first.