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  • Writer's pictureAnnemarie Bolduc

Homegrown Lettuce

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Fresh from the backyard, there is nothing like picking your homegrown lettuce in season!

Homegrown bronze mignonette lettuce • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2019

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 harvest lettuce in winter, you can even make soup out of it (if you are keen). The lettuce is at its best when the weather warms up in spring until early summer, 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 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 fresh 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 are the keys. Not only do humans love lettuce, but little bugs and hungry fluffy creatures also do. If left unprotected or distressed, there are many risks of them being quickly destroyed. My backyard lettuce is all organic, and I protect it with good mulch, wire or netting. Little snails cannot be avoided on wet days, 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, no matter where they voluntarily come up, are usually the most vigorous plants. In all, fresh green salad from the garden is healthy and delicious. Due to its high water content, you can’t preserve it by freezing or drying it. It's tricky 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 with friends and neighbours... or eat a lot of leafy greens!



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