Lettuce continues to rank high in the American fresh vegetable preference category.
A quick look at the chart atop the page, however, shows that the most recent twenty five year trend indicates changing American lettuce preferences.
While lettuce remains a common kitchen staple, most kitchens now divide their lettuce attention between the traditional iceberg or head lettuce and the leafy lettuces, such as romaine, now common in grocery stores.
Nutritionists often recommend the leafy varieties due to their higher nutrient content.
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Growing Salad Vegetables
The dozens of lettuce varieties available for purchase today means everyone's favorite salad starter, lettuce, can be grown in everyone's garden.
If you consider the fact that native lettuce plants such as Miner's Lettuce grow year after year without human aid, it sounds even more reasonable to suggest that domesticated lettuce varieties really are easy to grow.
All things being equal, the most difficult decision in the lettuce growing enterprise may very well be choosing among the many varieties. In a plus for organic gardeners, more than a handful of lettuce varieties are available as certified organic seeds.
Soil Conditions: As a leafy green salad starter, most of the lettuce varieties on the market are cold weather plants that grow well in healthy soil in the 6.0 to 7.0 pH range. Nitrogen rich soil aids leaf growth.
Planting Tips: Start spring lettuce indoors and transplant it to the garden when the plants have a handful of leaves blooming.
Indoor Seed Germination Tip: Like most leafy green vegetables, lettuce gets included in the cool weather vegetable category. Suggested indoor seed germination temperatures vary according to a few general rules such as seed strain choice and climactic conditions. Seed germination temperature range: 70oF - 80oF.
Many varieties germinate in less than a week's time.
Spacing: Most family gardens can do well by planting two rows of lettuce and spinach combined, with each row measuring about four feet long. The lettuce plants are placed in the ground with the starter leaver showing, and space about three to four inches apart.
1c raw, shredded green leaf lettuce: 3.3 mg Vitamin C
Men 19+: 90 mg/day suggested
Women 19+: 75 mg/day suggested
Organic Fertilizer Tip: As a general rule of thumb, lettuce varieties thrive on nitrogen rich soil. They require little additional phosphorus or potassium soil amendments. Their minimal growth requirements, including the need for only artificial, vegetative promoting, blue light in the 3000k to 6500k range, makes them ideal candidates for research into small, medium and large indoor organic food production practices.
Harvesting Tips: Average growing time for lettuce to go from seed to salad bowl is approximately fifty days. Staggering the planting time in two week intervals means fresh salad greens are available throughout the season.
© 2009-2012. Patricia A. Michaels