Let’s Talk about Lettuce!
Summer is finally here! Most of us are looking forward to long, hot, sunny days. Picnics, parties and pitta will be in full swing over the next few months. During this time of growth and activity it is important both nutritionally and energetically to enjoy a healthy quantity of raw produce. Nothing says summer like a big fresh salad. Whether a main dish, side, or snack, salad is where it’s at!
Arugula, escarole, baby greens and romaine, red leaf, butter crunch, mesclun mix and chard. Now that’s poetry! When it comes to nutrition lettuce is just as profound. Greens are low in calories and rich in phytonutrients, vitamins A, C and K, beta-carotene, folate, iron, calcium and magnesium. Lettuce prevents dis-ease and provides a wealth of important nutrients!
Ready to run to your grocery store and pick up a selection of delicious greens? Not so fast. Conventionally grown lettuce has high levels of pesticide residues. The large surface area of this veggie causes it to absorb loads of the chemicals used to ward off insects. This is not good enough for me! I want all of the nutrients and none of the pesticides, thanks! It’s a great reason to shop at your local organic farmers market! Or you can go organic, save money and get outside by growing your own!
Just look how easy it is to grow your own greens:
1. Find a container. It doesn’t really matter what it is as long as it has drainage holes. It could be a flower pot or a large BPA free plastic container with holes drilled in the bottom.
2. Fill your container with potting soil. If you have any compost kicking around I would throw in a handful of that too!
3. Sprinkle a package of seeds gently over the top of the soil. I love mesclun mix because of the variety of greens it produces. Don’t be too picky but aim to get them about an inch apart. (Spacing is not my strong suit. I just go with it.)
4. Gently sprinkle about ¼ inch of soil over the seeds and very, very lightly pat with the palm of your hand. Water thoroughly (and gently)!
5. Place your pot somewhere that gets a few hours of full sun. Keep the soil moist.
6. The seeds will sprout in a few short weeks and voila – salad greens! There is no need to thin the seedlings – a crowded pot means no weeds. Harvest by snipping greens off an inch above the crown. This will encourage the growth of more leaves.
Growing your own salad greens is fun, delicious and nutritious. Have a happy, healthy salad summer!