Lettuce share our garden!
CULTIVARS CURRENTLY IN THE GARDEN:
Description of photo: different types of green, red and purple lettuces on soil Image by Gardening Chores.com
Lettuce has been eaten for over 4,500 years, but it was not always known as a leafy food. Lettuce was first used by the ancient Egyptians for its seed oil. This oil was used for cooking, hair regrowth, mummification, and medication. The plant was probably selectively bred by the Egyptians into a plant grown for its edible leaves, with evidence of its cultivation appearing as early as 2680 BC. Egyptians believed lettuce to be sacred in reproduction and used it in ceremonies. The Egyptian cultivated lettuce appears to have been 30 inches tall and shaped like our modern Romaine. Egyptians passed their lettuce to the Greeks who shared it with the Romans.
Scientific name: Lactuca Flavor: Fresh, green, bright, sometimes peppery Uses: Garnish, salad, sandwiches, wraps and more Origin: Near the Mediterranean Sea
Related: Artichoke, Celtuce (stem lettuce), Chicory, Endive, Escarole, Radicchio Companions: radish, carrots, parsnips, beets, eggplant, chives, cilantro Pests: Aphids, birds, cabbage looper, slugs/snails, caterpillars, crickets, etc. Pollinators: primarily self-pollinates, bees, etc.
GROWTH & HARVEST
Lettuce loves late winter and early spring here in zone 7. Lettuce is one of the first crops we plant in the community garden - as early as late February with frost covers - so the lettuce can thrive on the mild warmth of the beginning season. It can be grown under other plants for shade too. When lettuce gets too hot or dry, the taste becomes bitter and the plant will bolt, or go to seed before eaten. Pests. Since lettuce is one of our earliest season crops, it's also a great food source for early emerging garden insects. Arugula seems to be a favorite snack for flea beetles. Slugs also love lettuce since the plant and beds are so moist. Raised straw beds may help keep slugs at bay. Be prepared to share some of your harvest.
LETTUCE AS FOOD
Lettuce is an excellent source of beta carotene which is needed for healthy skin, bones, and eyes.
It's also a good source of vitamin K which helps strengthen bones. Some lettuces have more nutrients than others - Romain has more vit. C and beta carotene than Iceburg - but most lettuces have lots of water and fiber. Since lettuce can b 95% water and include fiber too - it's great for healthy digestion.
Lettuce - butterhead Serving 3.5 oz (100 g) 95% Water, 2.2 g carbs, 1.35 g protein, <1g fats 13 calories, 1.1 g fiber, 3.7 mg Vitamin C
Recipe: Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Recipe & photo credit: JoyFoodSunshine.com
1 lb ground chicken
1 TBS peanut oil
½ onion minced
1 cup red or green pepper diced
18 oz can water chestnuts drained and minced
For the Sauce:
3 TBS soy sauce
3 TBS hoisin sauce
1 TBS sesame oil
1 TBS rice vinegar
1 TBS peanut butter
1 TBS honey
2 tsp sweet chili sauce
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp powdered ginger
¼ cup peanuts crushed.
Lettuce or your favorite Asian salad
Whisk together sauce ingredients until well combined. If you use a firmer peanut butter you may need to microwave the mixture for 30-60 seconds in order to melt it and ensure everything is well-mixed.
Heat 2 TBS peanut oil in a frying pan. Once hot, add ground chicken.
Cook until some pieces are starting to brown. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is becoming translucent.
Add the peppers and water chestnuts and cook about 5 minutes or until peppers are becoming soft.
Add sauce and simmer on low heat until the chicken and veggies are evenly coated and everything is heated through.
Serve in lettuce leaves, on top of your favorite Asian salad, or over noodles or rice!