Tips for Growing Delicious Lettuce & Other Leafy Greens

Growing lettuce and leafy greens at home in your garden is a very rewarding experience.  Our family started our gardens about 5 years ago, mainly wanting to grow enough lettuce to have a salad a day and now look, gardens are exploding in every area of our property. 

Along our journey of becoming more self-reliant and starting to grow most of the food we consume, we've learned a few helpful tips and tricks when growing lettuce and leafy greens.  

What's the Best Soil for my Lettuce and Leafy Greens?

Plant your lettuce in soil that is loose and well drained.  Often called "Loamy".  This can usually be built by combining half sand and half silt and smaller amount of clay.  This type of soil is ideal because it's texture is porous and it allows the water to flow through it nicely, but slow enough for the plants to access it.   Loamy soil is also nutrient rich because you're constantly working organic matter into the soil each year. We like to add at least 2 inches of organic matter onto each of our beds each year before spring planting season.  

Where Should I Plant My Lettuce and Leafy Greens? 

In the beginning, our lettuce and greens area of our garden was planted in the far most area of the garden, which we quickly learned worked "okay" but wasn't ideal.  During rain storms, or if it was late at night, whatever the reason...we didn't always want to go trenching through the backyard and then have to bend over in the dark and start harvesting the lettuce or greens for our salad. It was just slightly inconvenient at times and we found out that what really made sense for us, was to grow our lettuce on our back patio so that it was just a few steps away from the door, and we always had easy access to our greens.   Now it's just a quick trip to our container "salad bars" that we grow, and there's never any fuss when it comes to harvesting our lettuce.  

Read how to Plant your own Salad Barright on your deck or patio!

What's the Best Time Of Year To Grow Lettuce?

We sow new lettuce seeds every 30 days at our homestead which will guarantee us a continuous harvest of fresh and organic greens for salads, smoothies and stir-fry's year round.  Now you must know that lettuce grows much better in mild weather, usually in the spring and fall, but will do exceptionally well planted in the shade during the warmer summer months, out of direct sunlight. Lettuce grows perfect in containers, which is another reason why we love growing our greens on the patio in big planters. This enables us to move them around throughout the year depending on how much sun they need. 

When to Harvest Your Lettuce or Leafy Greens

Harvest your lettuce or greens when they are young and tender. The flavor of the leaves will be superb and you'll lessen the risk of your plants bolting or going to seed.  We recommend using a pair of scissors and cutting the lower & outermost leaves off of your plants.  If you do this, your plant will continue to put off more new leaves, and you'll be able to enjoy your greens for a very long time with many harvests.  You can also let a head of lettuce or greens mature and then cut the entire plant off at the soil line.  

How to Store your Lettuce and Leafy Greens

Homegrown lettuce will last weeks, I mean WEEKS in the fridge without spoiling if you store it correctly.  

Begin by harvesting your lettuce. 
Wash it thoroughly.
Cut into small bite sized pieces. (This step is optional)
Dry lettuce using a salad spinner or let dry in a colander. 
Place salad into a large tupperware or ziplock bag.
Add a damp, but not soaking paper towel over the lettuce.
Seal container & refrigerate. 

For more in-depth instructions on how to have
FRESH LETTUCE LONGER, visit our 7 tips here!

We highly encourage everyone to start growing their own lettuce and leafy greens at home. It's a wonderful crop to consume on a daily basis, and very easy to grow and care for. 

Wondering which varieties to grow? Have a look here! 

Western Washington & Whidbey Island

We spent the entire day today traveling along some of the most gorgeous roads in western Washington, riding ferry boats, visiting state parks and eating at one of our favorite "dive" restaurants.  Here are some of the images from our day trip.  Enjoy...

Noahh's favorite part of the day?....yogurt pretzels. 

Easter at the Homestead

Easter at the homestead turned out to be a wonderful time spent with family and loved ones. 
No doubt, the true meaning of Easter lingered in our hearts and weighed heavily on our minds. We had spent the week prior to Easter Sunday talking a lot about our savior and the meaning of this holiday. For us it's not just about the eggs, candy and the Easter Bunny, but about Christ and his sacrifice, and that "the tomb is empty". 

We also spent our Easter holiday decorating eggs with natural dyes made from vegetable scraps and spices/herbs that grew at home in our own gardens.  

The Easter Bunny made an appearance bright and early, leaving Easter Baskets and treats for our family.  Farm guy even got some new socks and undershirts. ;) 

Noahh munched on a chocolate cross, which seemed to be her most favorite item in her basket. She devoured it completely in about 15 minutes. Hey, it's Easter and days like this only come once a year. I enjoy letting them "be little" on holidays like this.  Chocolate treats are a rarity around here.

Her dad also gifted her a miniature bible, her first one.  She enjoyed flipping the pages and coloring in it with her new bath crayons.  

We spent an hour or so outside on the patio, going through our baskets and just enjoying each others company.  Noahh was overwhelmed with the goodies and new toys that the Easter Bunny had left for her. 

This picture is one of my favorites...Farm Guy and baby Noahh both giving the camera a big "Thumbs Up", and Noahh's mouth filled with chocolatey goodness. You can even see a smear of chocolate on her cheek.  Toys and candy first thing in the wonder they're so happy. 

After we had our little celebration and family time in the morning, we waited for our guests to arrive for the rest of the festivities.  We had two sets of Noahh's Great-Grandparents come out and spend the day as well as a friend of ours and her children.  

We ate WAY to much food, the coconut cream pie was my favorite.
The kids had an epic egg hunt and did so good! The littles all filled their baskets to the brim with eggs decorated like farm animals and bugs.  Easter eggs are getting so cute nowadays. Much fancier than the regular plastic ones I had as a kid.  

Pop Pop helping Noahh go down the slide.  She insisted on going down "belly-first", so pop pop helped out.    By the end of the day our belly's were full and our hearts were happy.  
It had turned out to be such a beautiful day here at our home with our loved ones nearby. 

Welcoming April here at the Homestead

Welcoming April has been really fun here at the homestead.  Now that we're almost two weeks into the month, we're finding spring is surely here, with no denying it.  The bulbs are all flowering, the trees have brightly colored blossoms emerging, even the animals are perking up with the warmer temps and dryer days. 

We were able to get a good start on the construction of the new goat house, and they seem to be pretty enthusiastic about it.  We still need to assemble a new feed station and an area for them to bed down at night, but the structure is built and is secure.  This will also provide some nice shade for all of the animals come summertime. 

The greenhouses have been cleaned out and the buckets put back into order.  The drip irrigation system has been checked and thoroughly gone over to ensure nothing broke during any of the hard freezes of last winter. 

Can you believe that in just a few months, this greenhouse will be completely transformed into a lush, warm growing environment for our peppers, tomatoes and more? 

By far, one of our greatest accomplishments last fall was planting all of the bulbs that we did. We can't get over how bright and cheery the garden space is looking and couldn't be happier with our decision to spruce up the backyard with plenty of annuals, perennials and flowering bulbs. What a different it has made. 

We've been very busy transplanting our perennial starts all over the gardens. Every corner, and every fence line now has an array of flowering perennials that will bring joy and bright colors to our urban garden. Even though it's too early to grasp what it will look like come summertime, I'm letting my imagination run wild.  I can't tell you how excited I am about all of our new flowers.

We're transplanting more vegetable starts, intermingling them with the ones that over-winterized from last fall/winter.  Leeks tend to over-winterize really, really well in our area so I always plant some each fall to enjoy in early spring.  

We built a new bed for our artichokes and cardoons. Because they take up a lot of space, and we didn't want them taking over our lower raised beds in the garden we decided to construct a bed specifically for them and a few other bright perennial flowers. 

I LOVE the artichoke thistle, the cardoon flower. Not sure how many of these plants we'll eat and how many we'll let go to flower and seed because I truly adore the uniqueness of the cardoon. 

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