I had my first fresh lettuce experience on a trip to Jasper. My friend Bruce had some growing in the new house he moved into and he said it was already there and just kept growing. So much so that he kept sneaking it into our meals. “Salad anyone?”
Unlike the bland iceberg lettuce that seems to be everywhere in North America, fresh lettuce actually has a surprising amount of flavour. No really, fresh lettuce has taste, you can even taste it against strong flavours like a juicy burger or a BLT sandwich.
Lettuce is incredibly easy to grow. I started this lettuce from seedling. Since I have limited space and the growing season is pretty short in Toronto, I find seedlings to be a good investment. A seedling container often contains 4 plants and can be easily spread throughout the garden and starts producing a lot faster than seed for the same price as a pack of seeds. If you have a larger plot seeds might be more economical. I might start a few seedlings this week for later in the season as well but these seedlings were planted May 18th and I took a few leaves May 21st. I love instant gratification. 🙂
What I’ve found so far is lettuce doesn’t like too much sun. The leaves become wilted if they get too much direct sun in a matter of hours. I’ve moved around my containers so they don’t get a lot of direct sunlight. I also plan to plant them under my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant when the plants get a bit bigger as ground cover. They also seem healthier in cooler temperatures which makes sense since Jasper was pretty cold when I visited and they were growing fine. They seem best in the early morning when it’s still cool.
I water them regularly with worm tea about every 2-3 days. And I’ve already had a few leaves on burgers we made yesterday.
Cold weather and shade, a Canadian, balcony gardener’s dream!
Homegrown lettuce is great because I can never finish a whole head of lettuce and they’re often handled so roughly that I always throw out the outer leaves.
Give them a try and let me know how it goes!!