Thursday, May 08, 2008

Salad Anyone?

Our lettuce has come in full swing now. We could eat salad for 3 meals a day and still have enough to feed the neighborhood. That is just the way I like it. I always grow a variety of lettuce. I love a spring mescalin mix. Leaf lettuce is also a great addition to any salad. I always add some fresh baby spinach to my salads. This is a great way to get little people to eat spinach.

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,



Amy said...

We all love salad here too!
Years ago, we had a large garden on our property, and we grew some lettuce.....
Shannon was so excited when he picked our first "bowl" full; and my mom was coming over for dinner, so he was especially excited to serve it to her.
So we made up the salad, and it "looked" beautiful.....then my mom starting eating it.....
As she went to put the third bite in her mouth......she noticed a centipede hanging off of the leaves on her fork.:(
Shannon and I were both mortified!
We retired from lettuce growing that year.....:)

The next time we served her salad at our home, we reassured her that it was from "the store." :)

God Bless,

Marci said...

The salad looks great. I loved Amy's story above. We had a fellowship meal at church one day. Someone brought a large salad. I was munching away at it and I bit into something TOTALLY gross and disgusting. I just quickly swallowed everything in my mouth. I did not finish my salad. Later that evening the family who brought the salad had us over with another family. I heard the 2 ladies talking. They had cleaned the salad together the day before. She told her that they didn't do such a hot job because she found a large grub worm in the salad while at church. I wasn't sure if I should throw up or what. I KNEW that is exactly what I had bit into. EEEWWW... It still makes my stomach do flip flops.

Anonymous said...

Those are really great tips Julie. I had never even thought about having little worms or the such in there and I didn't realize that the heat was what would make it bitter. Very good to know!

Mountain Mama said...

Beautiful! Looks so yummy. Would love to join you for a salad lunch (minus any creepy crawlies). We have grown lettuce in the mtns and it actually grows very well. We were picking it most of the summer b/c it stays cooler.

I was "tagged" (in the world of blogging) a few weeks ago and just got to it today. Anyways, I am suppose to tag 5 others. You were one of "the chosen". If you go to my blog, you will see the rules and questions to answer. If you get a chance, would love to know more about you.