The Best Lettuce

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What Is The Best Lettuce?

By: Carol Giambri

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Spring Greens

Until I started shopping for lettuce seeds and also seeing the price of gourmet greens, I never knew there were so many kinds.  Mesclun is my favorite now.  Organic of course.  Each kind is tasty. The challenge is to find what you love, grow it or buy it.  They are expensive at some stores but can be bought on a budget at places like Costco, Sams Club or the Farmers Market.   I always have budget in mind, but never compromising the value of eating healthy and organic. 

Growing vs. buying…
Growing your own Mesclun is simple, doesn't take much talent as long as you have the right growing conditions.   They do best in partial or full shade and cool weather.  You can still grow it in hot weather although it can sometimes be a challenge. Actually what isn’t a challenge when you are growing something?  With our Colorado "moody" weather — just never know from minute to minute if we will be in winter or summer sometimes.  I can never predict if I will be harvesting a bumper crop or not.  Maybe that is the fun in gardening? There are many varieties and it can be confusing to pick the ideal company brand or kind. 

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Farmers Market

Some Mescluns can include…

lettuces, arugula, endives, mustards, purslane, chicory, parsleys, fennels, escarole, cresses plus tender wild greens.

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Organic Braising Mix (bunches of green leafs)

Common ones…

Romaine, Bibb, Oakleaf and Crisphead are the most popular kinds.  I must admit Oakleaf is amazing beautiful and Bibb is so nice in salads.  Actually I'm just a "lettuce-aholic."  In milder blends lettuces are most found.  Now there are some that give a sting as my tongue calls it and they can include: spicy cresses, tangy mustards, sharp arugula, and zesty chicory.

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Beautiful Romaine

Part of mesclun may include the mizuna, a delicate, leafy green best known in Japan.  Tat-soi, is another Asian green that has leaves and is sweet.  Being a purslane fan, it is called a garden weed here in America, but to me it is delicious, nutritious weed to eat in my salads.  Purslane is rich in Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids (said to reduce heart disease risk).

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My Purslane

Where's the knife…

They are so easy to tear apart you don't need a knife. 

Have you ever heard of …

Arugula or Radiccio?  They are also an addition to the Mesclun family.  Buy organic. 

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Ready to grow your own? 

Save money, time and harvest fresh.   

Scatter the seeds about 1/2” into the ground.  Or great way to use containers if you are limited on space.  Cover seeds with 1/4” of soil, then gently “mist” the seeds several times a day.  It grows usually fast. Want a more bitter taste? Add in more radicchio into your planting mix.
I prefer organic soils. Great reason to think of buying a composting unit for under $100 or even just make your own compost from your vegetable scraps and use this for your rich soil conditions.  If you need buy hardware chains or nurseries do sell soils.  Even grocery markets too. 

Water, occasional feeding and keeping the weeds from choking the lettuce before harvest are keys. Break off from the top and more will grow.  Get your double blessing harvest now. 
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Lettuce in salad with red and yellow peppers

Want a recipe?

Carol's Salad Dressing

3 cups of Meslun (can add more)
1-2 piece of garlic grated or cut up into small pieces
Olive oil – start with less as best as can always add (depending on amount of lettuce start off with 1/4 cup or less)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (start with a 1/2” slice and squeeze with hands)
Pinch salt (optional)

Add over fresh salad.  See picture above for eye appeal and surely the dressing will work well with any salad.

Grow Mesclum all year round…

Containers with drainage holes is necessary.  Whatever style and shape you like works well. 

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Rocks help if no holes

Reflecting and Acting…

We have talked about the many kinds of salad greens that make up MesclunAre you ready to try some, grow some or help others harvest some?  Let the kids get involved.  Call it a kids garden or kids gardening with the family.

What Did You Think? Please share.

Post Your Comments Below

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Carol Giambri is a gardening expert. She is obsessed with the garden, eating healthy as a frugal shopper and photography.  At a 12 step program she would probably stand up admitting: "I am addicted and obsessed with the garden and its foods."  She even shops for unique shapes of fruits and veggies.  From worm composting, which is a new desire, to homemade cleaning products, eating edible weeds, coaching programs, speaking, copy writing content for blogs, green/recycle talk, dogs and helping her hubby, she loves encouraging people.  Carol plans to write several books on healthy living as well as a pet book where her heart still remains having seen so many go to heaven.


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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Elvie Look October 3, 2011 at 8:43 am

I am a lettuce-aholic too!! Don't you just love a summer veggie sandwich with the lettuce about 1 inch thick? I am so sad as we are harvesting our lettuce this week for the last time for the winter. I will have to go back to buying for the year :( Thanks for your recipes & tips Carol!

denny hagel October 3, 2011 at 9:20 am

We are such huge salad eaters…always quick and easy especially during the hot days here in Florida when the last thing you want to do is turn on the stove! Thanks for the tips on the variations…You are a wealth of information Carol, thanks for sharing so generously! :)

Anastasiya Day October 3, 2011 at 9:35 am

I love salad too :) . Thank you so much for sharing your ideas with us!

Olga Hermans October 3, 2011 at 10:17 am

Yes, salad is on our menu regularly; we love it. Thanks Carol for digging into the smallest details and bringing it to us. :)

Wil October 3, 2011 at 5:58 pm

My fav is arugula! But it is great to have different textures and flavors in a salad.
Thanks to you, we'll be all set for the next growing season! :)

Carol Giambri October 3, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Wil, I love all veggie green flavors too. So much fun to play and see how it all looks in the bowl. So much variety with all these different mixes. Thank you for sharing.

Carol Giambri October 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Olga, thanks so much for your kind words. It lifted my spirits right now. I love eating this way and want all to enjoy it too. Great you eat salads regularly. I go through pounds of greens.

Carol Giambri October 3, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Thanks Anastasiya. Me too — lover of salads big time. Thanks for sharing.

Carol Giambri October 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Elvie, the higher the better for lettuce and the greens. I don’t do sandwiches but I do dehydrate when I have the urge. It takes over 24 hours, at least mine, so not quick if I wanted a fast bite, unless I have some “bread” stored. Hardly the case. Glad you embrace eating this roughage. I gave up on iceberg when I left my mother’s house and got on my own. I graduated into the tons of greens out there. Thanks for sharing.

Carol Giambri October 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm

Denny, my way of eating–fast/easy salads. Thanks for your comments…

Sibyl White October 5, 2011 at 9:31 am

I love salads especially in summer. When it's hot out I never want anything heavy.  Your recipe sounds delicious, will have to try that.  

Anita October 5, 2011 at 11:58 am

Not much of a lettuce eater but I do love most vegetables. I recently have started to look for ways to safely and inexpensively lose weight. I eliminated cigarettes last November and I have access weight to get rid of. I have tried a few gimicks (Yes I got sucked in :( and they didn't work…I am sure this site will be a great educational tool for me to eat right an inexpensively. So glad we are connected through You can do :)

Liz October 5, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I love this !!! My daughter started a garden and her little one will eat from it because they grew and nurtured the plants. I am sending her the link to your site so that she can get more tips for growing plants and introducing them to my granddaughter..;)

Marie October 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm

More tasty treats to add to the list for next year's garden.  We love salads and lettuces, so I will definitely have to do some more lettuce & greens research over the winter.  Thanks for the great tips, Carol.

Norma Doiron@Health, Wellness & Weight Loss October 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm

I love all kinds of greens for salads, so always experimenting!  Thanks for all the info… x0x
Norma Doiron @The LEARNED Preneur ╰☆╮

shelley October 5, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Hi Carol,
I love lettuce! All kinds of greens, i try and eat salad twice a day, so using different kinds of greens is better then just the good ole ball of lettuce lol now growing it… that would be a little more difficult.. as much as i love to garden, i think our "bunnies" would be eating more then me! :(

Jennifer October 6, 2011 at 2:47 am

Thanks for all the great information Carol.  I love all kinds of greens.  Salad is the one thing my kids will always eat it seems, so we have quite a few varieties around here.  Lettuce is really easy to grow here in Missouri, so it's a popular crop in our garden because my kids like seeing all their progress.  One of my favorites is kale, especially because it is so good for you. I freeze it and use  it in smoothies all year.

michele October 6, 2011 at 8:33 am

What a wonderful post. My primary food is always some version of a salad, so this info is particularly good for me. Also, love the flower plug! Great post ;-)

Susan Preston October 6, 2011 at 9:15 am

I love all kinds of lettuce, Carol. I did not know that there was such a wide variety. I love your passion and purpose…thank you for sharing it with all of us.

Carol Giambri October 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Thank you so much Susan for commenting. I am shocked myself on all these varieties. I grew up on Iceberg lettuce so this is a new world to me from the “old” days. Thanks for recognizing my passion and purpose. Praying others get a teaser to embrace it all year round too.

Carol Giambri October 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Michele, so much fun creating salads. Just love all kinds of greens–salad mixes. There is more than Iceberg that I grew up on.

Carol Giambri October 6, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Jennifer, wow, kids are hooked on salads. Awesome. You get a 150% star for this big boost to their health. Wow, freezing kale. Never tried but with it being not so thin in texture…thanks for tip. Will try that. I usually eat mainly fresh, but still…awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Carol Giambri October 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm

HI Shelley,
Greens rock. So much variety to them and ways to put them in a fresh salad or smoothie. Just play and see. Thanks for sharing your love for lettuce like mine! I’m obsessed!

Carol Giambri October 6, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Norma, wow, I am attracting green fans. Love it. Keep experimenting. Thanks for sharing. x0x0

Carol Giambri October 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Marie, Costco is great for Earthbound organic heirloom lettuce. I love all greens. Thanks for sharing and commenting. Thinking of some before the winter hits us close the house and maybe add a hoop to protect my “babies.”

Carol Giambri October 6, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Liz, thanks for sharing my site with your daughter. Hope your granddaughter will be eating more from the garden as she learns to appreciate her hands to the work. Perhaps having her try some edible flowers too. Planning on an online coaching program that will include kid friendly ideas or even for those who are seniors and on fixed budget. Families too. Basically all that are ready to change to eating more vegetarian, vegan or almost raw on the fast, easy “trail.” No time to spend decades like I have. I did it for most. Thanks for commenting.

Carol Giambri October 6, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Anita, Thanks for sharing. I didn’t love all the veggies I do eat today, but I started with an attitude of knowing they are. For excess weight have you thought of a cleanse? Eating more beets? Doing some green smoothies? Have you read my apple post on weight loss. Someone commented on FB it helped them with belly fat reduction. Natural is best way. Congrats on getting rid of the cigarettes. Bet you are saving money and now you can turn it into more gardening eating daily. Glad we are connected. We learn from each other.

Carol Giambri October 6, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Sibyl, thanks for sharing your love for salads. I eat them all year round. One small bowl is nothing. I can go through a large bag of Earthbound heirloom gourmet lettuces by myself daily if I let myself at it. Actually I share with hubby and it’s a big bad a day. The recipe is super easy and any spice or herb will enhance it to your special day. Play, see and taste. I bet you will be a success in any of your creations.

Hughie Bagnell October 6, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Hi Carol…thank you for sharing your knowledge on lettuce…certainly not a 'lettuce aholic' so great info. and article! …Thanks, Hughie

McKenna Gordon October 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Nothing like a big, huge salad as the main dish for dinner. I love mesclun greens and LOVE, LOVE the idea of growing them all year round. I hope to grow some in my home this winter. Wish me luck!!

Betty Nelson October 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Best food in the world….spring greens….my dinner tonight was spring greens etc… keep up the great work!

Kelly October 7, 2011 at 10:31 pm

I had know idea there were that many kinds of lettuce! But after seeing your pics, I'm hungry for a salad! (And I'm pretty full from dinner!)

Carol Giambri October 8, 2011 at 12:36 am

How funny Kelly. I ate a massive one by myself tonight that included close to the last of my heirloom tomatoes. Just can’t get enough of these healthy greens. Hope you get half addictive to salads as I am in full swing. Now remember me when you remember to eat your “daily” salad? Thanks for the laugh. I could have turned into a pumpkin at this hour but I’m taking a break. Got lots of clothing to donate. Yeah maybe?

Carol Giambri October 8, 2011 at 12:39 am

Betty, you got that right. Spring greens rock. Bowls and bowls of that to me. Are you playing with different greens. Today saw gorgeous argula. Has a zing if you never had. Wow.

Carol Giambri October 8, 2011 at 12:41 am

Oh McKenna..I’m with you when it comes to huge salad too. I can actually eat them 3 times a day. Just love them so much. Appreciate you being here and sharing. Wishing you luck to grow some mesclun greens this winter.

Carol Giambri October 8, 2011 at 12:42 am

HI Hughie, Takes a while perhaps to acquire lettuce taste but even if you don’t love it your body will. Now that’s worth getting used to daily. Thanks for sharing.

Solvita October 9, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Carol and again you give us so much information! … Thanks a lot ~ now going to make that salad!!

Carol Giambri October 11, 2011 at 9:03 am

Solvita, I hope you are playing with many kids of lettuces. Argula is kind of spicy. Used it yet? Thanks for sharing. Hope you enjoy a salad as day as much as I do and also an apple a day. Yes, add diced apple to your fresh salad and top with lemon juice, freshly squeezed, so apples don’t brown.

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