In the Garden:
Crunchy and colorful, leaf lettuce provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals.
Grow a Rainbow - and Give Your Family's Nutrition a Boost
Everyone knows fruits and vegetables are good for you. But did you know that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables in all the different color groups in each of your meals can boost your nutrition by providing a healthy combination of vitamins and minerals that work well together?
Salads are a fun way to add crunch and color to a meal, and lucky for us, leaf lettuces are easy to grow nearly all year around here in the Pacific Northwest. According to the USDA nutrient database, one serving of red leaf lettuce is a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, niacin, copper and selenium, and is a great source of vitamins A, B6, C and K, thiamin, riboflavin, folic acid, and iron.
Get the most mileage from your homegrown lettuces with these tips:
- Harvest the first set of leaves about 45 days after planting, when the outer leaves are about 4 inches in length. Cut or break off a few of the outer leaves, near the base of the plant, leaving the interior foliage alone. It will continue to grow and produce new leaves.
- You can cut fresh outer leaves once or twice weekly, depending on how quickly the plant grows and replaces the foliage.
- Remove the top third of the entire plant with a knife or shears once the plant reaches full size. Harvesting in this manner encourages a fresh flush of new growth.
- Harvest the entire plant before it bolts (usually before temperatures reach 80 degrees F, but this depends upon the variety you're growing).
- Sow lettuce seeds every two weeks for a continuous supply of fresh greens (and reds). Some of my favorites varieties include Deer Tongue Oakleaf, Little Leprechaun, Lollo Rossa, New Red Fire, Red Sails, Salad Bowl, Speckles, Simpson Elite, and Romaine Parris Island.
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