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Growing Lettuce On A Raw Food Diet

Growing lettuce is something every raw foodist can do to save money, improve their health, and get better tasting food.

I can think of few finer pleasures than picking my first batch of lettuce every spring. Unlike the supermarket purchases I make during the winter, the lettuce from my garden is freshly picked, and you can taste the crispness.

It's free of the sour note you sometimes get in lettuce, and actually tastes sweet. I often skip making a dressing because I enjoy the natural flavor so much.

Growing Lettuce: Why It Makes Sense

Growing Lettuce BowlYou likely can't purchase fresh lettuce in a supermarket because little or none of the produce they stock is recently picked. The food has been decaying for days at a minimum, and is likely laced with pesticides and fertilizers.

Even if you buy organic, which is more expensive, the chance that your food was grown in rich, composted soils is fairly slight. Examine industrial-scale organic farms and you likely won't be pleased with the soil-nutrient tests, or much else, for that matter.

Luckily, growing lettuce is simple, cheap, and can be done almost anywhere. The results are almost always worth the effort, and you'll be doing yourself a nutritional favor

Your Soil

I've had success growing lettuce in some fairly poor soil, but anyone on a healthy raw food diet can easily improve growing conditions with the byproducts of their diet.

To make good compost soil, you want equal parts of predominately brownish organic matter like leaves, dirt, bark, and shredded newspapers that are high in carbon, and the predominately colorful fruit and vegetable remains like rinds, skins, cores, and other produce scraps, which are high in nitrogen.
Growing Lettuce Window Box
Simply throw these into a composter (or into a pile) mix it up, let it sit for a year and you should have some good soil for growing lettuce.

You can use this rich mixture not only to improve the soil in your garden, but also to fill indoor and outdoor containers.

The large amount of organic waste raw foodists produce makes this quite easy, but if you want to go farther you can consider amending your compost with rock dust or other organic sources such as manure.

In the Ground

Your average stretch of ground is as good a place as any for growing lettuce, provided it gets at least three hours of sun.

Growing Lettuce GroundDepending on how involved you want to get, you can simply turn the soil with a shovel (unless you're a no dig proponent) and add your compost to it, or test the soil to see how rich it is and make the necessary amendments. 

Then either plant your seeds as the package suggests or transplant in the seedlings you have grown or purchased. Wait a few weeks and you've got lettuce. Keep improving the soil every year and your harvest will keep getting richer.

If you don't have any property, ask a friend with a yard if you can plant at their house, or enter a community gardening program. Your landlord might allow you to create one on his property if you bribe him with tomatoes. :)

In A Raised Bed

Raised bed gardens, which can take many shapes, such as my own keyhole garden, can make growing lettuce easier.

Growing Lettuce Raised Bed

They cut down on weeds, you have richer soil becuase it's all the stuff you've added, and the shape is convenient to access. If you need to screen your lettuce because animals are an issue, putting a net over a raised bed tends to be easier than attempting to drive stakes into the ground.

Raised bed need not be complicated. You can simply stack up wood, bricks, hollow cinder blocks, rocks, or whatever else you have on hand and fill it in with dirt.

When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look into the reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or our family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and arguments. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.    
- Thich Nhat Hanh

On A Balcony or Patio

Even if you have no land to plant, you can use containers and trellises for growing lettuce and other food.

You'll be amazed at how much food you can grow in small spaces. For inspiration, check out the beginning of this great permaculture video for balcony gardening ideas.


When I was in college I lived in second-story dorm room, and I was unable to garden.

I'm a wily guy, though, and I began growing lettuce and other plants inside, and my results were surprisingly good.
Growing Lettuce Inside
An outdoor window box is fine for growing lettuce, and inside that window the situation isn't much worse. While not all the sun's rays can reach the plant through the glass, inside the temperature will be warm enough for growing lettuce all winter, provided that the window get three or more hours of full sun a day.

Indoor window boxes and pots can all be used to great effect for growing lettuce. Fill them with good composted soil and you can have a supply of lettuce all year long.

Ideal Conditions For Growing Lettuce

Lettuce thrives best in the spring and fall, but you can grow it during the summer too. Very high temperatures will lead to wilting leaves, so during these times it's best to grow lettuce in partial shade, or erect some sort of screen over your bed. The most heat-resistant varieties are romaine and summer crisp.

Lettuce likes water, so don't let more than a day go by without rain or watering.

If you can manage it, the best time to pick lettuce is in the mornings before the sun is directly overhead, as the leaves swell with water overnight but lose some of it in the heat of the beating sun.

Learn about the many varieties of lettuce available.

Find more organic gardening articles here.

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