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
You 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.
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
produce scraps, which are high in nitrogen.
Simply throw these into a
composter (or into a pile) mix it up, let it sit for a year and you
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.
Depending 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.