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.
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.
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.
Once the lettuce is dry, I place it in a small plastic box that originally contained baby greens from the grocer.
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.
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.
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
In most cases, I will share even if you are not friend or family… or human.