Let Us Talk About Lettuce

"I'm not really a career person. I'm a gardener, basically."-George Harrison

This is the first year that we have grown lettuce from seed. I have no idea why I was so intimidated by the idea of growing lettuce from seed in the past. Last year friends of the family grew some in their raised bed and they could not keep up with the production of this leafy green so I began thinking , “O.K. maybe this isn’t as hard as I thought,” and decided that the next growing season I was going to give it a try.

Here we are in 2010 and I cannot keep up with the lettuce in my raised bed! The only thing that I wish I had done differently is to have planted a red lettuce instead of a green. The darker the lettuce the healthier it is for you. One of the nice things about this loose leaf is that you can plant a crop in the early spring and than put out another for a nice fall harvest as well since they prefer the cooler temperatures. With that said I think I may try a darker leaf the second half of the growing cycle.

As far as nutritional value is concerned lettuce is a low calorie food that is a reasonably good source of Vitamin K and folic acid. There seems to be solid evidence that folic acid holds benefits for pregnant women in the early stages of pregnancy. Lettuce is also a source of Vitamin C.

Some interesting side notes about lettuce. The higher the water content in a particular strain of lettuce the sweeter the leaf. The catch is the sweeter the leaf the lower the nutritional value. Something else one may find interesting about lettuce is the presence of lactucarium, or lettuce opium. Lactucarium is a mild opiate like substance that is found in all types of lettuce. So if you find yourself feeling sleepy after a good meal now you know why!


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