The following blog was written by Natasha Grogan, Early Childhood Officer, from the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation and it explores how to grow, harvest, prepare and share a year-round favourite, lettuce and salad greens!
Lettuce and salad greens are a wonderful crop to grow in any Australian garden, all year round. They can be grown in a garden bed, a pot or a vertical garden, and require little space and are quick growing, making them an excellent place to start especially if you are new to growing your own food.
Where to begin
When starting any kitchen garden, you need to make sure you have the right conditions. Your fruit, vegetable and herbs will need between six and eight hours of sunlight per day, healthy organic soil, and access to water. There are some crops that don’t mind a little more shade, so if you don’t have a space with too much sunlight, you’ll definitely be able to grow a little something.
How to grow lettuce
Lettuce, because it grows fast, needs healthy soil full of organic matter. I suggest you add organic compost, organic manure, or blood and bone to give it the boost it needs.
Lettuce seeds and seedlings
Lettuce seeds are teeny-tiny. A good tip when planting them with children is to mix the seeds with sand and a small amount of soil and sprinkle over the growing area like fairy dust! Lettuce seedlings come in punnets, and there are normally eight seedlings per punnet – you need to separate the individual seedlings carefully but confidently before you plant.
Hot tip: Plant some lettuce seeds or seedlings every few weeks to ensure an endless supply of leaves. Water in the morning when it is hot and keep your watering consistent, so as not to let the soil completely dry out.
Harvest & Prepare
It’s best to harvest leaves as needed by taking one outer leaf at a time. This will ensure that you are only using what you need and will reduce wastage. Picking lettuce is a perfect garden activity for kids of all ages and will help them feel involved in the whole process.
Kids can also help to prepare the lettuce for cooking by helping to wash and rinse it too!
This is our personal favourite step. Time to cook and share all your hard work with family, friends, and any other lucky folk. We personally love garden-to-table meals the most and we’re sure your loved ones will too.
Read on for more leafy green love from the Foundation – including recipes and a Q&A with a lettuce farmer.
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