How to Buy, Store, Prep and Grow Lettuce Article -
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How to Grow Lettuce

Simple tips for buying amazing lettuce (and keeping it that way).

With fresh lettuce around, you'll always have an easy and healthy side dish at the ready.

Full Heads or Mixed Greens?

Full heads of lettuce are the best option for keeping down costs, especially if you eat a lot of salad. But for extra convenience, you might try the salad mixes that come in bags or plastic "clamshell" boxes.

The Three Main Types of Lettuce

Iceberg: The classic. Stores well, but doesn't have as much nutritional value as other lettuces.

Romaine: A big leafy lettuce that's the star of Caesar salad.

Red/Green Leaf: Thin and gentle lettuce, often slightly bitter. Doesn't store well.

When to Find the Freshest Lettuce

Fresh local lettuce will be available in the spring, but fresh lettuce of decent quality is available year-round. throughout the year. You may even be able to find "living lettuce" which is sold with its roots still intact. Doesn't get fresher than that.

How to Choose Lettuce at the Store

Whether you're buying full heads or a bagged mix, look for crisp, green leaves. Avoid if the leaves show any browning.

How to Store Lettuce

Iceberg and Romaine lettuce will store for a week or so in your crisper, but other more gentle leaves should be used as soon as possible. Lettuce that comes in a box or bag can keep for a week as well, but make sure you reseal tightly after using!

How to Prepare Lettuce

Tear the leaves off and wash them well. Dry them as thoroughly as you can. This will be easiest if you invest in a salad spinner, but you can also toss the leaves with paper towels or clean dish towels.

How to Chop Lettuce

Don't! Chopping will bruise the sensitive leaves. Tear the leaves into pieces instead.

How to Grow Lettuce

Lettuce grows well in small spaces. Gardeners often start lettuce indoors, then plant as soon after the last frost that the soil can be worked. Lettuce needs rich, well-drained soil and full sun. Ask the friendly folks at your local garden store for information about growing lettuce in your area.

Jul. 22, 2009 9:49 pm
We just harvested the first of the lettuce from our garden. I was so excited as I prepared a salad for dinner. Then I tasted it and it was horribly bitter!! What can I do to avoid this with the next crop?
Aug. 3, 2009 8:52 pm
Wholesomehome, Oh no! This happened to us this year as well. I've discovered that there could be several factors. #1 - the type of lettuce planted (make sure the variety you choose is a sweet one); #2 - warm/hot temperatures will cause lettuce to be bitter (you can plant lettuce in the garden very early. It is a cool season crop. When temps get too warm, lettuce will begin to bolt, or go to flower, and it becomes bitter then as well. The cooler the temp, the sweeter the lettuce.); #3 - the plant may not have received enough water. We watered our garden a ton this season, but most of our crops are bitter due to lack of water. Our soil is very sandy and does not hold moisture. We're going to do a lot of amendment to try and fix this for next season. Hope that helps! Good luck!
Aug. 5, 2009 11:25 am
Thankyou-- this was very helpful. our garden lettuce was very bitter also ... great tip for next year's garden!!
Aug. 29, 2009 8:43 am
I planted loose leaf varieties (Black Seeded Simpson and Mesclun) and harvested the outer leaves for over 2 months until they bolted. They just kept growing! Now that they have bolted, I'm going to plant some more for a Fall crop
Aug. 29, 2010 10:59 am
I grow my lettuce inside on a windowsill that gets a lot of sun. This is the easiest way for us to keep lettuce year round, as it is hot here in the summer ( 100+ degree summers) and freezing cold in the winter
Sep. 3, 2011 7:05 am
Jessica, Can you give me a few tip on how you grow indoors? I live in florida where temps are hot too.I never grew anything but want to start.
Jun. 3, 2013 10:27 pm
This may sound crazy but I soak my lettuce in warm water for about 15 minutes, then drain and put in fridge. Was given this hint by a friend who I thought was crazy but I have lettuce that is extremely crisp!
soheir salem 
Oct. 26, 2014 5:34 am
Soaking lettuce then draining it and keeping in the fridge sounds like a very good idea for crispy salad I am gonna try it for sure I always wondered how restaurants keep their salads so crisp and I think I found the secret.
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