Fabulous Lettuce This Year

– Posted in: Vegetables

No thanks to me, but we have been enjoying some fabulous lettuce from the garden lately. Except for one week in early June, it hasn’t been especially hot. So it might be the weather, or it might be the varieties, but we’re eating salad every day.

Salad every day . . . what do you like in a lettuce salad?

We always have carrots. Onions have to be mild. Cheese or olives if we have them on hand. Croutons for a special treat. But it’s getting difficult to keep a certain sameness from creeping in. What do you put in your lettuce salad to keep it interesting?

Seed Sources

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

What differentiates a bulb from a perennial plant is that the nourishment for the flower is stored within the bulb itself.…There is something miraculous about the way that a little grenade of dried up tissue can explode into a complete flower.

~Monty Don in The Complete Gardener pp. 142

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dlyn July 12, 2008, 5:26 pm

Our lettuce is incredible this year – it must be the weather. When we have a nice wet year like this, we realize that if we watered more in drier years, we would have a lot more veggies!

Our salads – and we eat it nearly every day, all year – vary by what we have or, in colder months, what we feel like paying for. Various kinds of lettuces, maybe some shredded cabbage, always lots of onion [cause our kids are out of the house and we can eat what like], cukes, tomatoes, cauliflower or broccoli, carrots, celery, radish, nearly always red peppers, olive, black beans, chick peas, avocado, pine nuts, cheese – any or all of the above. Dressing is usually something I have just thrown together – a creamy bleu or feta, balsamic vinaigrette, pesto vinaigrette, oil and vinegar with fresh garlic and herbs. We like salad a lot 🙂

Cynthia July 10, 2008, 6:45 pm

Ahhh! My dad grew Romaine lettuce last year and this year in TN and I got to have some when I went to pick up 2nd son from college. There IS a difference between store bought and homegrown lettuce. There just IS! It was so good. As to added ingredients, I like some crunchies in my salad – nuts, esp. walnuts, sunflower seeds, and homemade croutons. I also like to throw in some dried cranberries from Sam’s occasionally. Your different varieties are incredible. I’ve never even heard of some of them! The helpful harvesters’ smiles speak volumes too!

Muum July 10, 2008, 3:12 pm

your lettuce looks good, I have planted twice and still have no lettuce. The first batch got eaten by something. The second batch didn’t come up, maybe it was too hot. ah well. Maybe I’ll try again in the fall!

Mary Ann Newcomer July 9, 2008, 11:36 pm

You will like this: add some herb leaves to the salad. Like mint, basil, a little oregano, parsley is awesome, tarragon if you like…….it really kicks it up and adds a wonderful freshness to a salad. Try to find white or golden balsamic. It tastes a little milder but doesn’t make a dirty looking mess of everything it touches. I often dress a salad with just fresh lemon juice, salad oil, s & p. If you need a protein, you can add some cottage cheese to the dressing as well. It will have the same appearance as blue or goat cheese but I always have it on hand and it too, is mild. How’s all that??????

Those heads of lettuce looked beautiful. Would have liked to see more of your helpers. 🙂

Robin Wedewer July 9, 2008, 5:04 pm

Kathy, I think I like the kid pictures even better than the lettuce photos–they look so happy.

I am VERY impressed with the lettuce. I do very well with Red Sails and Black Seeded Simpson, but not so well with any of the big head varieties.

Are the red lettuces such as Revolution at all bitter?

Robin Wedewer
Gardening Examiner

Kathy Purdy July 10, 2008, 9:25 am

Robin, the Revolution had started developing a stalk but was only mildly bitter, not as bitter as some endive I’ve had. You wouldn’t want it to be the only lettuce in your salad but as part of a mix it was fine. I’ve never thought of romaine as a head variety. It doesn’t form a ball. We cut it off at ground level and it often makes another smaller clump.

kendra July 9, 2008, 3:14 pm

we threw in some apples the other night..”Pink Ladies”. Very good!

Gail July 9, 2008, 12:59 pm


Not a lettuce grower but I love the crunchy lettuces…like Romaines and a crunchy salad in general. I add cukes, tomatoes, sliced raw fennel bulb, blueberries, some crunchy sprouts, carrots, red peppers and other lettuces and arugula! Never raw onions I think they become the only flavor and over whelm the others and I don’t like that. It’s funny but onion eaters love my salads even without the onion flavor….topped with the best balsamic vinegar I can find and a good olive oil.

Kathy Purdy July 9, 2008, 1:40 pm

Gail and all others leaving out onions: the only onion I use is a sweet, mild one like Vidalia, sliced very thin. And not in every salad, because about half the family doesn’t like it.

Cindy July 9, 2008, 10:26 am

Kathy, what an amazing assortment! You make me want to try lettuce growing again. It’s totally the wrong time of year for us to do so, although I remember reading about someone here growing lettuce in the shade during summer months. I’ve got plenty of seeds, so it might be worth a try if the temps aren’t too high for it to germinate. Those are some cute young farmers in the pictures, too!

As for what to put in a salad, I like parmesan, avocado, green olives, red pepper and tomatoes with a balsamic vinaigrette (fresh herbs in the vinaigrette add a nice zing).

Fern July 9, 2008, 2:17 am

Some of my favorites:
–Candied pecans & blue cheese crumbles
–Chopped walnuts & dried cranberries
–Shredded carrots, red bell peppers, black olives & hard boiled eggs

Carol, May Dreams Gardens July 8, 2008, 9:43 pm

I love good homegrown lettuce. Those are some beautiful heads of lettuce you are growing and your helpers are cutie pies, too. For homegrown lettuce, I sometimes eat it with just a touch of a balsamic vinaiegrette, other times I add radishes from the garden, if I have them ,and baby spinach and green onions, too. I also like sunflower seeds in my salad.

Kathy Purdy July 8, 2008, 10:39 pm

Carol, those helpers are holding lettuces that they grew themselves. (My daughter didn’t grow the green one she’s holding, though.) We enjoyed spinach in some of our early salads, but the spinach finished before the lettuce did.

margaret July 8, 2008, 9:38 pm

Dare I admit it? Though 30 years a vegetarian, I really don’t enjoy lettuce salad…I grow it, I eat it when given a bowlful (grudgingly). I’m a cooked-greens person, kale and collards and spinach and raab and chard, the garlicky-er the better, with good olive oil.
What gets me to actually eat salad IS the added stuff. Chevre, croutons (love crunchy bits!), beets (a personal passion). Some combinations I serve to company are beets and goat cheese, or pears and blue cheese with walnuts or pine nuts. NEVER raw onion.
My standard dressing is oil and balsamic with a spoon of grainy mustard and a fresh-crushed clove of garlic (pressed in a garlic press).
Now if you’re offering arugula, I’ll eat a giant bowlful…but lettuce, well, not my deal. Unless you really pile on the goodies.

Kathy Purdy July 8, 2008, 10:36 pm

Margaret, I certainly feel the way you do when it comes to tired store-bought winter lettuce. Lettuce straight from the garden–in variety–has a texture and subtle flavors that I appreciate. But I would have to agree that I love garlicky cooked greens more. The very first arugula I had was wonderful, with a meaty/mushroomy taste to it. All that I’ve had since then has been pretty bitter. Do you have a favorite variety?

And speaking of chevre, have you had cheese from the Old Chatham Sheepherding Company? That is near you, I believe.