Today, it’s all about Lettuce: Everything you need to know. Well, it’s almost planting season which means we need to talk about lettuce. This plant is something almost everyone plants in their garden, or want to plant.
I realize some people on certain medications can’t have dark leafy lettuce or spinach. Hopefully, you can eat some of these.
Through the years of planting a garden, I’ve learned a lot. So, I am going to teach you everything you need to know about lettuce. This is where I buy my garden seeds: SeedsNow
Related: What to Plant in March
Lettuce: Everything You Need to Know
It’s a great time to start growing your own food in your garden. It’s easier than you may think. We can do this, my friends, I promise. Lettuce is one of the easiest vegetables to grow.
Health Benefits of Lettuce
Despite the reputation of lettuce having zero nutritional value, it actually is quite nutritious. In fact, the nutrients you can find in it can help you meet the daily standard requirement for key nutrients and minerals. My favorite: Lettuce Knife.
These vitamins and minerals include:
- Vitamin C: As you may know, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that keeps your immune system healthy.
- Calcium: Calcium is needed for bones and strong teeth. It also helps support muscle, nerve, and blood clotting functions.
- Vitamin K: You need vitamin K to prevent you from bleeding to death when you cut yourself. It is vital for blood clotting and preventing bone fractures.
- Vitamin A: Also known as beta carotene, vitamin A is another powerful antioxidant that supports vision, eye, and cell health.
- Folate: Also known as vitamin B, folate helps make DNA and genetic material. It is especially important for women who are pregnant.
- Potassium: Potassium is what helps keep your heart working. It is a mineral that reduces blood pressure.
In addition to providing these vitamins and minerals, these plants are low in calories, so you aren’t putting on any extra pounds eating it.
Different Types of Lettuce
There are four basic types of lettuce that you will find in the store today. Within each type of lettuce, there are several different varieties you can get. You will find the breakdown below.
Butterhead is a type of lettuce that is characterized by a loosehead with grass-green leaves. The leaves have a soft “buttery” feel, hence the name. The flavors are usually sweet and mild.
Those considered to be butterhead lettuce include:
- Boston: Resembles a flowering rose
- Bibb: Has a small, cup-shaped head
Iceberg is the most common type of lettuce. It is found at every supermarket and most people are very familiar with it. It is more accurately called crisphead, however.
This type of lettuce forms a tight, cabbage-like head. It is crisp with a mild flavor.
The Loose Leaf variety comprises a lot of different varieties. They have large, loosely packed leaves joined at the stem. The leaves are either green or red depending on the variety you get. Two popular varieties are:
- Red Leaf
- Green leaf
For those who are home gardeners, loose-leaf has an advantage over other types. This is because you can pick the leaves instead of pulling the whole head and the leaves will continue to replace themselves the whole season.
Romaine has long, deep green leaves that form a loaf-shaped head. Some varieties have a closed head where others are more open. Romaine has a crisp texture and a strong bitter taste.
But, that’s what makes it great in Caesar salads.
What Kind is Best for You?
All lettuce is nutritious and healthy for you. With that being said, you can’t expect all varieties to give you the same amount of vitamins and minerals.
In general, lettuce that is darker green is typically more nutritious than the lighter green. So, to answer this question, the most nutritious type you can eat is Romaine lettuce.
It gives you more folate, potassium, beta carotene, and lutein than any other variety.
One cup of shredded Romaine has the following nutritional values:
- 2.5mg of beta carotene
- 1.1mg of lutein
- 1/3 of your day’s worth of folate
Regular iceberg is only giving you:
- 0.2 mg of beta carotene
- 0.2mg of lutein
- 1/3 of your day’s worth of folate
As you can tell, Romaine does have more nutritional value. When it comes to nutritional value, here is my list from most nutritious to least:
- Green Leaf (part of loose-leaf)
- Red Leaf (part of loose-leaf)
So, if you are deciding on what kind to plant in your garden this year, think about the nutritional value you would like to have.
Lettuce: Everything You Need to Know
Did you know the most widely planted salad vegetable in the U.S. is lettuce? It is an ideal garden vegetable and grows pretty easily. With these growing tips, you will be able to have plentiful, crisp, green lettuce.
Related: What to Plant in April
When to Plant It
Lettuce does not like really hot weather. It prefers cool weather. Therefore, you will want to begin planting romaine, butterhead, and loose-leaf lettuce as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring.
Depending on what variety you plant, lettuce typically germinates in temperatures between 40 to 85 degrees.
If you want to plant a fall garden, you will want to plant your lettuce late in the summer so that it reaches maturity when it is cooler.
Where to Plant Lettuce
When planting lettuce during fall or spring, the ideal location is to put them in a spot that gets full sun. However, if you have decided to grow it during the summer or in warm zones, you will want to protect it by planting it in partial shade.
Lettuce tends to grow best in loose, cool soil with good drainage. Adding organic materials such as compost or manure will increase the drainage in your soil as well as provide crucial nutrients for your plants.
If you have had issues with your lettuce not growing in the past, you may want to check the PH levels of your soil.
You can do this by purchasing a Garden Soil PH Tester on Amazon. Or, you could have your soil tested by your state extension service.
What is PH?
PH is the level of acidity that is in your soil. Each plant needs a different level of acidity to grow the best. Most varieties of lettuce grow best in PH levels of 6.5 to 7.5.
To adjust the PH levels, you can add lime or sulfur to your soil, depending on what it needs. Lime will increase the acidity whereas sulfur will decrease it.
How to Plant It
Head lettuce is typically started indoors. Many home gardeners will begin their seedlings indoors before spring. Once they have hit the last frost date, they then transplant them outdoors.
If you want to plant your seedlings outside, it doesn’t take much extra work. In fact, the seeds are pretty easy to plant and grow. Here are some tips:
- Plant seeds thinly in the soil.
- Put lettuce in rows that are 12 to 18 inches apart.
- Romaine and Butterhead should be planted 6 to 8 inches apart.
- Thin leaf lettuce needs to be planted 4 inches apart.
- Transplanted heads of lettuce should be 10 to 12 inches apart.
- Consider alternating rows of red and green lettuce for a whimsical look.
Watering Your Plants
You will want to water your lettuce lightly, frequently, and consistently. The goal is to keep the soil nice and moist. Not soaking wet, but moist.
How to Harvest Lettuce
Most lettuce can be harvested 30 to 70 days after it has been planted. The timing of harvest is really dependent on your individual preference. Once it reaches the size you want, it is ready to be harvested.
With the exception of Loose Leaf, you can harvest the entire head. With Loose Leaf, you will only want to harvest the leaves as they will continue to grow back.
Everything You Need to Know Series:
- Cucumbers: Everything You Need to Know
- Kale: Everything You Need to Know
- Broccoli: Everything You Need to Know
- Mushrooms: Everything You Need to Know
- Lettuce: Everything You Need to Know
- Carrots: Everything You Need to Know
- Tomatoes: Everything You Need to Know
- Potatoes: Everything You Need to Know
Lettuce: Everything You Need to Know. Growing it offers you and your family a fresh healthy option. What type do you grow in your garden? Let me know in the comments below!
Keep prepping so you are prepared for whatever comes your way. May God bless this world, Linda
Copyright Images: Romaine Lettuce Depositphotos_8821095_s-2019, Iceberg Lettuce Depositphotos_1796698_s-2019, Butterhead Lettuce Depositphotos_2206551_s-2019, Loose-Leaf Lettuce Depositphotos_190327584_s-2019, Lettuce against wood Depositphotos_151414766_s-2019