Updated: Oct 17, 2022
Fresh from the backyard, there is nothing like picking your own lettuce in season!
Lettuce is a must-have leafy green in the veggie garden. You can pick crispy fresh leaves as needed, free from pesticides and at lower risk of any potential contamination. Lettuce can be cultivated all year long but in our regional cool climate, it grows a bit too slow in winter. If you live in a warmer zone and are harvesting lettuce in winter, you can even make soup out of it (if you are keen). When the weather warms up in spring until early summer, the lettuce is at its best... and green salad season is on! In the heat of summer, lettuce tends to bolt to seed so then it's time to use other seasonal produce like cucumbers and tomatoes as a salad base. As a first course or on the side, fresh green salads can be topped with raw veggies or fruits, a "vinaigrette" dressing, roasted nuts or seeds, hard-boiled eggs, cooked bacon, fish, edible flowers, etc. Lettuce is also added to burgers, sandwiches, wraps, poké bowls, etc. There are many different varieties, textures, shapes and colours. The main types are loose-leaf, butterhead, romaine "cos" and crisphead. Lettuce is universal, so, what more to say... making salads is fun to do and also good for you!
Enjoying crispy lettuce from the garden • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019-21
GROWING & COOKING TIPS
Lettuce is not very hard to grow, but timing and safeguarding is the key. Not only do humans love lettuce, but little bugs and hungry fluffy creatures also do too. If left unprotected or distressed, there are many risks of them being quickly destroyed. My backyard lettuce is all organic and how I protect them is with good mulch, wire or netting. On wet days, little snails cannot be avoided, but a good soak and rinse will wash them out. My chooks are not fussy with damaged leaves and love insects so they always stay around when I'm picking... as they know that they will get a free treat! As mentioned, when the summer goes the plants will bolt into flowers and won't be much good to eat, but I always let one of my favourites go to seed for collecting. Many seeds spread with the wind, which I don’t mind at all as I get free lettuce growing everywhere and those ones, no matter where they voluntarily come up, are usually the strongest plants. In all, fresh green salad from the garden is healthy and so delicious. Due to its high water content, you can’t really preserve it by freezing or drying it. It's the tricky thing when heaps of them are ready to harvest all at the same time. They can be stored in the fridge crisper for a few days but the best way to avoid wasting them is to share some... or eat a lot of leafy greens!
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