Watch My Food Grow ~ A South Florida Raised Vegetable Garden

Florida Backyard Raised Vegetable Garden

Fresh from the Garden Lettuce

March 21st, 2013 by Lila Steinhoff

Lots of Lettuce

Lettuce is a cool weather plant. It will germinate even when the temperature is  in the 40s, but it won’t sprout well when the temps hit the mid-70s. The lettuce in this box was planted about six weeks ago and is the first thing in the garden to be harvested this season. It grows fast and many varieties will just keep coming up if the leaves are cut about an inch from the ground.

lettuce in raised garden Lettuce in Raised Garden

I planted several kinds of lettuce… Bib (aka Boston), Arugula, the usual leaf lettuces and  Mesclun, which is a fancy name for mixed greens. Most stores sell these in small plastic boxes as ‘mixed baby greens’.

Washing and Storing the Baby Greens

Several times a week, I cut the leaves with a scissors. Some people pinch them off, but that tends to bruise the leaves. I place small bunches of greens in a large bowl of cold water. I rinse them several times to remove the soil completely; drain the water from the bowl, take the lettuce out of the bowl and lay it on the rack to drain and dry in the fresh air. I toss the lettuce on the cloth several times as it is drying to shake off the water.

drying lettuceDrying Lettuce Leaves

Lettuce leaves can be dried on an ordinary cooling rack on top of a clean towel to catch the dripping water. I place a thin, porous piece of fabric that the water will pass through easily, on the top of the rack so the lettuce is not torn or bruised by the metal rack.

air-drying lettuceRack to Dry Lettuce

Once the lettuce is dry, I place it in a small plastic box that originally contained baby greens from the grocer.

plastic lettuce boxRecycled/Reused Plastic Container

I saved it to use with my greens because it keeps the lettuce leaves very fresh in the refrigerator without damage. I wash and dry the box between each batch of  lettuce.

Salad, anyone?

Since the heat in Florida will kill off the lettuce in the next month or so, I will not be planting more. I am cutting the leaves nearly every day, and new growth comes right up from the roots. I am pulling up the leaves, root and all, in the Bib lettuce section to thin it and allow heads to grow.

lettuceLettuce and Shallots

Up north, seed can be planted once a week and there will be lettuce all summer. The story is that Thomas Jefferson would plant a teaspoonful of lettuce seeds every Monday morning, so he had lettuce all summer.

Share the Bounty

lizard in lettuce gardenLizard in the Lettuce Patch

In most cases, I will share even if you are not friend or family… or human.



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  • So fun to read your blog Lila! I don’t have room for a beautiful raised garden like yours but I bought some small herb plants cheap the other day. I’m going to plant them in a larger container in a week or so when my boss leaves. Looking forward to be able to not wasting a half a pack of herbs after using some for cooking… : ))