Dealing with garden lettuce can be a bit of a chore. I have learned to cut my lettuce in the morning. It isn't too hot outside and the lettuce stays nicer. When I bring the lettuce in the house, I clean out one side of my sink and run it full of cold water. I dump my lettuce in the cold water and I let it set for a bit. I swish it often to get more dirt off. If it has just rained and the lettuce is dirtier than usual, I will change out the cold water. I take the time to comb through the lettuce to make sure I pick out any grass or other things that may still be on it. (Nobody wants to eat a worm or other little moving creature with their salad. This is a sure fire way to make sure little people never eat salad again). We purchased a salad spinner that spins the lettuce dry. This is the way to go. I paid about $20, but I have used it for the last 4 years and it should last for many more. After my lettuce is dry, I put it in the refrigerator to enjoy for dinner. This process takes some time so whenever I cut lettuce I always cut more than needed for that day. I don't want to cut too much and have it go limp in the refrigerator, but I have found that I can use lettuce a day or two after cutting and it still is wonderful. This just helps me along for dinner the next day. I have also found that if I already have lettuce cleaned in the refrigerator several of my children will make a salad for their lunch.
I have learned to vary our salads. We loved the Romaine lettuce that I grew this year. It is a heavier lettuce and will stand up to heavier dressings. The Spring Mix that I grow is a softer lettuce and it needs an oil and vinegar type dressing or a light raspberry dressing. Some nights I will throw in a few onions from the garden and a few pepperoncini peppers. My favorite salad is one that has different veggies along with some shredded cheese, homemade croutons, sunflower kernels. Every now and again I will add raisins. Tnfarmgirl taught me this trick along with the sunflower kernels. The raisins add a sweetness and the sunflower kernels add a wonderful flavor and crunch.
To fully enjoy growing lettuce, you need to succession plant. I plant my lettuce in blocks in our raised beds. I make a nice square and then I sprinkle the seeds, cover them slightly, tap down the dirt, water, and then wait. I do this about every 2 weeks. This gives me a constant harvest of lettuce. Lettuce gets bitter during the hot weather so you need to put it in a spot that will remain cooler. I planted some under our broccoli plants. The broccoli will provide shade to help keep the lettuce cooler than just being in full sunshine. Another trick to eating garden fresh lettuce it to cut it young. This helps to keep it from being bitter too. If you plant enough, it doesn't bother you to cut such small plants.
grace and peace,