Growing Your Own Salad

edibles-lettuce-lThis blog article makes me a little nervous because typically I research and make sure I know the ins-and-outs of any gardening advice or know-how I pass on my thoughts. This is a case where I was feeling like growing lettuce and it worked… and it was easy, so I’ll share what I did.

It was raining in the spring and I couldn’t garden so a trip wandering the aisles at the local nursery had me with a fistful of radish, basil, parsley, sugar snap peas and zucchini seed packets (yes I had all of these on my garden bench in the garage, but not the cool new varieties I’d just discovered). So anyway, I started reading the back of the lettuce seed packages. It was crazy. Plant it, pick it, eat it. Sounded like the simplest crop yet.

The vagaries of gardening meant that it was a couple weeks before I had time to plant my raised vegetable bed. I’d updated its paint, installed the plastic “greenhouse” cover and added more potting soil. The night I decided to plant I was having a glass or two of wine while DB grilled our dinner next to the raised bed.

My original plan of neat rows exactly 12 inches apart, each with a different type of leaf lettuce went astray as soon as I tried to manipulate extremely teeny-tiny seeds in one hand and my Pinot Grigio in the other. So a new plan that involved broadcast seeding and mixing the varieties ensued. I figured I was going to mix the lettuce in my salad bowl so why not in the raised bed?

Kirkland Pinot Grigio, from Costco of course

Kirkland Pinot Grigio, from Costco of course

It actually worked. With just a little watering and maybe a little rearranging of particularly dense areas to spread the plants out, I had a lovely crop of lettuces. The colors were great with everything from deep burgundy to dark green and bright chartreuse.

Harvesting was super simple. I cut it like grass every couple weeks or so filling a plastic colander. Hose it off outside to get all the dirt out. Pick it a little “young” or it will taste bitter and the leaves really tastes sour if you let the plants go to flower. After picking you can save it in an open bag in the fridge for a week or more.

After each cutting the lettuces grew back like grass. I got two or three harvests out of the first seeding. Then I cleaned out all the plants (most had gotten leggy or gone to flower), added a bit more potting soil and replanted. I was able to pick fresh lettuce up until first frost.


About Kary Beck

Mother and wife, gardener, wine enthusiast, avid online bargain hunter, and owner of two black-and-tan cocker spaniels.
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