Your Own Lettuce is Lovely
And So Easy to Grow
There is no separate salad garden.
Lettuce is such a decorative plant that I plant it everywhere to fill in spaces, to edge beds and anywhere that there is a hole.
Are There Many Types?
When I speak of lettuce that is a very diverse subject. The medium sized
that was within arm’s reach lists 23 varieties. There are leaf textures and colours of many types and there was no iceberg listed. Those hard balls of white, (mostly,) and green that appear in our grocery stores actually give lettuce a bad name. Growing just a few of the available varieties in your own space will give you a whole new outlook on the humble salad.
Is It Just Lettuce?
Absolutely not. My salad bowl has an amazing diversity of produce in it. There are many evenings in the summer when a
large salad is dinner.
The additional flavours and textures that come out of the garden make creating a salad a true work of art. There are the obvious things like spinach, (5 varieties listed,) and then we wander into a wealth of other leafy things such as Beet tops, Arugula, Mizuna, Mache, Komatsuna (pictured left,) and the leaves and flowers of Nasturtium. There is always a container of Nasturtiums just outside the kitchen door to add some colour to both the deck and the salad. The leaves have a wonderful spicy flavour and the flowers, completely edible, brighten up any salad. Just throw a few seeds into a pot and water them. They grow quickly and easily.
How Do I Grow Them?
The easy answer for most salad greens is to sprinkle the seed on the soil, water and wait. There is always a better way. I start a small sprinkling of their
seed in a small pot,
under my lights, on a windowsill or in the cold frame as the season gets warmer. When they have germinated, I transplant a dozen. It’s usually a dozen because these little plants don’t need a lot of soil so I use plastic egg cartons, (holes punched in the bottom for drainage.)
When Do I Do This? I do this at several times throughout the growing season so that I always have a few small plants to stick into empty spots in the garden as others things are eaten or in the flower beds when seasonal perennials have died back. (picture right,below) Lettuce also make great container plants. Grow a few in your pots and window boxes and have little ones on the windowsill to replace them as they move into your salad bowl. Since we don’t care if they ever produce flowers and fruit we can even grow them in areas of light shade.
What Varieties Are Best?
This is very much a personal preference but there are a few guidelines. The loose leaved types such as Grand Rapids or Simpson are best in the cool early and late parts of the season. The butterhead or Boston types such as Vulcan, (red leaved) or Optima produce wonderful buttery soft heads through most of the season. In the warmer parts the Batavia or crisphead types, (Nevada,) will continue to produce thick crispy open heads when most of the others have given up. There are many other varieties within these groups with different leaf shapes, (oak leafed,) and variations on red and green colouring. Check the seed catalogues or the racks in the garden centres and buy what appeals to you.
It’s never to late to start. This is an all season, short term, crop that is immensely satisfying to grow and to eat.
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