So Easy To Grow Your Own Lettuce

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Letuce growing under Reemay fabricOnce again lettuce contaminated with E. coli is in the news. Now I don’t think contaminated lettuce is a very high risk problem because of the numbers involved. Even the widely publicized outbreak back in 2006 only sickened 200 people. I understand if you or someone you know was one of the 200, it was a problem, but really folks, 200 people buy bagged lettuce in just one hour at a single large grocery store. The odds of getting sick from contaminated lettuce are so small as to be almost non-existent. Having said that, there is an easy way to bring your chances of being the unlucky one to almost zero. Grow your own lettuce.

Lettuce is among the easiest of vegetables to grow. In the spring it thrives in the cooler days leading to summer. In hotter weather you can grow great greens by using a sunshade cloth, planting in partial shade, or choosing heat tolerant varieties. Planted from transplants purchased at a nursery or home center involves almost no work. Growing from seeds means a bit more weeding and thinning early on, but gives you a huge choice of varieties. We have a real winter here with temperatures getting into the teens and occasionally, single digits. Still the only months I am not picking lettuce from the garden are those in the dead of winter, December through February. If you live in a more moderate climate lettuce can be grown year round. If you use a floating row cover like the Reemay Garden Blanket you can control your lettuce season even more. As you can see in the photo above, I use Reemay over PVC hoops. This allows me to grow great lettuce in the early spring and late fall when night temperatures are getting below freezing. The Reemay hoops also moderate temperature and wind when the growing season is warmer, giving you better growing conditions and faster lettuce harvest. I am careful with the Reemay, cutting it to size and burying the edges under dirt or wood sticks. I get several seasons from each piece of fabric although by the last season the fabric usually has a few tears and holes it. This does not affect the usuability of the Reemay, but may let in bugs like the spinach leaf miner. Because of that I use the newer pieces of fabric on spinach and the older, rattier ones on regualr lettuce that is not bothered by bugs.

In addition to avoiding chemical fertilizers and possible bacterial contamination, lettuce grown yourself and picked minutes before you eat it tastes like nothing you can buy in the store. I eat a lot of salad greens and usually go to the garden, pick and wash the greens, then make the salad and eat it within the hour. Healthy, safe, fast, and cheap. Try growing some yourself, you will never go back to a diet of limp, week old store bought lettuce and greens.

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Will Sig
1 Ruth

My problem with bagged salads is, I buy them and eat maybe once or twice out of them and the rest goes bad in the fridge! I’ve got some lettuce out in my container garden on the deck but they’re teeny at the moment, gotta wait a while before I can pick anything. I always end up waiting too long to get started on my planting for the year.
.-= Ruth´s last blog ..Late Earth Day Post — The Evil of GMOs =-.

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2 John

Aw man, all the lettuce & spinach we’ve tried to grow is getting simply crushed by the summer sun (that was a nice two weeks of spring we HAD). The tomatoes, peppers, and watermelons seem to love it, but I can’t keep the leafy green dudes alive at all. Out of about 30 seeds, we had one lettuce and two spinach sprout. Only the lettuce is still with us, and it isn’t looking too good. This is probably why everyone around here is growing collard greens…

Between the sandy soil and heavy sun – as well as the flood or drought rain cycles, this garden is turning in to quite the challenge. At least I’m finally getting some exercise and starting to learn about some things that do work! Maybe best of all, we haven’t even spent $100 on set up so 1 crop could pay for all our monetary investment. Most of that is on dirt and peat attempting to fortify the mulch & sand we call a yard, so I’m starting to think that compost is the real trick to minimizing our food-related expenses.

I’m definitely going to have to check out these blankets, too. They could keep the greens alive in the summer, and they might also be able to keep more tropical foods alive during the winters. Otherwise, we can only really grow the stuff that tolerates both extreme heat and sustained frosts… and I still want to grow some pineapple, passionfruit, kale, & spinach!
.-= John´s last blog ..Oh joy, no AC again =-.

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3 Tony McGurk

I love my homegrown lettuce. I like that we can just pick it when we want it. You can’t get fresher than that & tastes so much better too
.-= Tony´s last blog ..Important Announcement =-.

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4 Tony

I love my homegrown lettuce. I like that we can just pick it when we want it. You can’t get fresher than that & tastes so much better too
.-= Tony´s last blog ..Important Announcement =-.

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5 Will

Hi Ruth! The solution is to eat bigger salads! 😉

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6 Will

John- The blankets do help a bit in the summer, but they are really used as season extenders, something that probably is not too much of a need in Florida. When we get our hot July and August days, (often over 90, sometimes over 100), I use shade cloth in place of the Reemay. That seems to protect the lettuce. I use a square frame though, not the hoops. That way it is open on the four sides for air flow.

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7 Will

Yeah that is my favorite part, Tony. I pick it, wash it, and eat it, all within the hour. The taste is so superior!

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