Archive for how to get kids to eat salad

A Special Salad

Posted in edible leaves with tags , , on November 19, 2010 by PickMeYard

We have been growing many varieties of leaf lettuces lately.  They’re too easy to grow in pots.  I think everybody should do it.  I’ve said it before and I’m sayin’ it again… bagged lettuce from the grocery store is yuk.  It’s no wonder salad has such a bad rap.  Fresh lettuce harvested at home gives non-salad eaters a new perspective (my kids, for example). 

Harvesting dinner.

My 3-year-old has taken the new position of being the household salad cutter.  When she hears the word “salad” mentioned, she starts yelling, “I’ll do it, I’ll do it, let me do it”!  I don’t let her do it alone, of course.  She always chirps about cutting lettuce to make “a special salad”.

She always eats her dinner when she's allowed to help prepare it.

I grew a Siamese dragon stir-fry mix of seeds that I bought from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  There’s not much left of them because I stir-fried them all.  I’m definitely getting more of these seeds.  They went into several large meals. 

A “before” photo would have been much nicer but I always went out to the pots armed with scissors instead of a camera.

The big pots that my lettuces are growing in are complete overkill.  Lettuce can be grown in a shallow container, probably 4-6 inches of depth are necessary.  A wide container is ideal because more seeds can be grown at the same time.

Delicious leaf lettuce.

I couldn’t  think of anything to make for dinner the other night and ended up throwing together a Cobb salad.  It was my own version of a Cobb salad.  My 9-year-old son has now decided that he likes gorgonzola cheese because the salad was so delicious.  The calories this salad contained was definitely not for the rabbits.

More delectable lettuce.

Different kinds of leaf lettuces.

A Special Salad.

Come grow with us!

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Growing Lettuce in Pots

Posted in edible leaves with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2010 by PickMeYard

When I look through the bagged lettuce at the supermarket, I have a really hard time finding one that looks good enough to eat.  We’ve been spoiled because we know what homegrown lettuce tastes like.  Oh yeah, it’s that different!  Tastes like buttah.  We just go outside to the pot that it’s growing in with our scissors in hand.  Usually it’s at night with a flashlight too.  We cut enough to fit in the bowl that’s brought out  to the garden.  It’s so fresh and wonderful that it’s turned my kids into salad eaters.   This kind of lettuce is called “cut-and-come-again” lettuce.  You cut the outer leaves and it keeps growing so that you can go back for more.  It doesn’t take much of it to fill a huge kitchen bowl.

Flame lettuce growing in a pot. It requires cooler temperatures.

The problem with growing lettuce in Southwest Florida is that it’s too warm for half the year.  Lettuce prefers cooler weather.  So, we’re without fresh, homegrown lettuce from about May through November (depending on the weather).  At the end of September, I have my kids toss a bunch of lettuce seeds in a big pot and some in a garden bed.  It’s usually ready to start cutting around 6 weeks later.  We’re just absolutely desperate for our fresh lettuce by then.  The wait really makes us appreciate it more.

I don't remember what kind of lettuce I was growing here. We always buy many different kinds to try.

We put styrofoam pieces in the bottom of our pots when we’re growing lettuce in them.  This keeps the pot light and allows for good drainage. Lettuce doesn’t have a deep root system.  I use a good potting soil, never soil dug out of the yard.  I have been trying to come up with a clever lettuce growing container to use this year.  They don’t need to be too deep.   The leaf lettuces are so super easy to grow and so rewarding with flavor. 

Merveille des quatre saisons (Marvel of four seasons)... our favorite variety!

There are so many kinds of  lettuces to grow.  We like to grow the leaf lettuce over the head lettuce  because we like the cut-and-come-again thing.  Both are easy and have a short growing period.  I tend to start harvesting mine when it’s really young.  It’s so tender.  The leaf lettuce in the above picture was grown from seed that I bought from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I bought the seed from them last year and again this year.  I’ve been dreaming about it.  

Lettuce seed packets are easy to find at just about any hardware store though and even some grocery stores.  However, I’ve found that there is a huge array of flavors with all the different lettuce varieties.  Just because one is tough or spicy doesn’t mean they all are.  I don’t really care for the mesclun blends or the baby arugula, but that’s just my preference.  I like my lettuce to be sweet and buttery.  The different varieties can have a big difference in texture and flavor.

A local farmer told me that the red-leafed lettuces are a good choice for Florida because they tend to be somewhat heat tolerant.  Lettuce doesn’t like heat and when it gets too warm… it bolts.  Bolting  is when it sends out a thin shoot from the middle of the plant and it goes to seed.  This makes the lettuce taste bad.  So, when it bolts, it’s time to send it to the compost bin.  Lettuce can be grown in the shade of other plants to help with the heat.  It needs a few hours of morning sun though and should be watered every day.

More leaf lettuce.

A variety of leaf lettuces.

Come grow with us!