Friday, November 19, 2021

Fenton Friday: Grow Your Own Salad

Guest Post by Melena DiNenna

While interning at Washington Gardener this fall, I grew cutting lettuce (Lactuca sativa), also called cut-and-come-again lettuce, in the community garden. This was my first time tending to an edible plant, so it’s been an interesting learning experience. I was lucky to get seeds that were very fresh and new, so I didn’t need to plant a whole lot to get an abundance of lettuce. 

Each week, we’d go into the garden and tend to our plants. A couple of times we’d get a rainy day, so we’d leave them be that week. Over time we started to weed around the plants, too. I also grew arugula at the same time, which didn’t grow as much as the lettuce. At one point, I even had to plant more arugula seeds since we couldn’t see any seedlings. However, the cutting lettuce grew very well and steadily. In late September and again in early November, I harvested it, giving me enough lettuce to make a delicious salad that week. 

What I love about salad is it doesn’t need to be complicated—sometimes it’s just a matter of throwing together what you have in your kitchen. I washed and patted the lettuce dry and put it into a bowl. I included some leftover cherry tomatoes we had picked from the garden throughout the fall as well. I also threw in some walnuts— my favorite addition to a salad—and topped with balsamic vinaigrette. The lettuce was crunchy and the salad made for a great afternoon snack!

This was just a great experience learning how to care for a lettuce plant. It was so fun watching the process from growing as a seedling to making a great salad ingredient. I hope I get the opportunity in the future to plant some more!

About the Author: Melena DiNenna is a journalism student at the University of Maryland, College Park, with minors in Spanish and sustainability studies. She is from Salisbury, MD, and is interning this fall with Washington Gardener.

About Fenton Friday: Every Friday during the growing season, I'll be giving you an update on my community garden plot at the Fenton Street Community Garden just across the street from my house in zone 7 Mid-Atlantic MD/DC border. I'm plot #16. It is a 10 ft x 20 ft space and this is our 8th year in the garden. (It opened in May 2011.) See past posts about our edible garden by putting "Fenton" into the Search box above.

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