Friday, December 28, 2012

Lettuce Eat More Greens

I am a notoriously terrible lettuce grower.  I don't know if I just always plant at the wrong time, if my soil isn't right for it, or if I'm just not holding my mouth right.  My lettuce always bolts before it even gets big enough for me to be willing to pluck a leaf to see how it tastes.  Until this winter.  In late fall I planted some mesclun mix in my greenhouse, just a small patch as a test.  I didn't expect much given my track record, but in the past few weeks some of the lettuce has grown to testable size without any sign of bolting!

And I have discovered something because of my success:

As a green, lettuce fails to impress me.

This may come across as almost sacrilege to many.  How could I not love home grown lettuce?  Well, I'll tell you, if it weren't for the multitude of other, much tastier, more nutritious, and considerably easier to grow greens, I'd probably be much more impressed with my little lettuce patch.  The plain truth is that, I'd rather be eating kale
Toscano Kale

White Siberian Kale
which while young and tender is tastier than any lettuce I've come across, and when it's older and tougher, can be turned into kale chips or added to stews.  Or collard greens:

which are a sturdy filling green packed with nutrition (nearly as high a protein content as soybeans).  Or mustard greens:
Baby mustard in the greenhouse

Mustard battling the cold (and surviving)
Mizuna mustard
The old fashioned green wave mustard that I have been growing has a wonderfully sharp bite reminiscent of wasabi horseradish, while the mizuna, which I will be growing,  has a rich buttery flavor.  Or even chickweed:
which grows all over my yard and throughout my greenhouse with out an ounce of effort from me!  Chickweed is particularly high in ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and mucilage, and also provides rutin, para amino benzoic acid (PABA), gamma linolenic acid (GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid derivative), niacin, riboflavin (B2), thiamin (B1), beta carotene (A), magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, selenium, and silicon. (italicized portion from

This is only the tip of the iceberg for variety greens, there is also Swiss Chard, spinach (which I also have trouble growing, this year I'm trying both a perennial  and a vining spinach), beet greens (either red beets or sugar beets) , all of the cabbage family, and and a host of wild greens. With such incredible variety at my fingertips, I will no longer torture myself with endless fruitless plantings of lettuce.  

I guess you could say that I'm turning over a new leaf!


  1. My garden is a ledge-ful of pots and hanging baskets on my balcony :-) but I'm already wondering if I planted mustard seeds would they grow? Here in India people use the seeds fried in with vegetable dishes mostly, but I'd love to try some greens .. very hard to get good lettuce here (or maybe it's just the rainy season). Tried growing coriander and gazed adoringly at the lone two little seedlings that grew .. until one of them bloomed and I realised they were marigolds LOL

    1. I use mustard seeds in my Indian cooking as well. The greens are fabulous and will probably grow from your cooking seeds. They have a nice bit to them. I am only just getting this year's coriander (cilantro) to grow. I usually have lots of it, but I got behind on lots of stuff this year.