January 2, 2021
When planning the fall design for the Statuary bed in our edible landscape, lettuce was our first choice. We imagined rows of fluffy green lettuce heads sitting next to pops of purple in each of the four wedges. After searching through various seed catalogues, we narrowed it down to our favorite selections.
Flashy Trout Back Lettuce
Flashy Trout Back was the preferred choice for a speckled green lettuce. This variety is an heirloom European lettuce dating back to the 1700’s. It is a cutting romaine type with a sweet, nutty taste and leaves lavishly splashed with wine-red speckles and streaks. During the past few months, we’ve enjoyed watching the “speckles” darken from red to maroon as the lettuce matures. Enjoy its vertical shape for wraps, fajitas, sandwiches, and cut up in salads.
We chose Salanova for a purple/red punch of color. This lettuce is a full-sized variety with a unique core that, when removed with one cut, separates and is ready for use. It is favored by chefs and home cooks for its full flavor and texture, small size, dense head and long storage life. Salanova pairs well with Dijon mustard, yogurt, radish, cucumber, mint, bean sprouts, tomatoes, spring onions, red onions, garlic, anchovies, fish, duck breast, prawns, poultry and new potatoes. The leaves will keep up to five days when stored in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
In the raised swing set frame beds, we choose Tango, a lettuce classic. Deeply lobed, pointed leaves with curled margins are the signature of this variety. Uniform, attractive plants form tight, erect rosettes. Lettuce stalks of this variety have a delicious, tangy flavor, firm yet tender and crisp. Ideal for salads.
For harvesting all three lettuce varieties we made the decision to follow the “cut and come again” method. Using a sharp knife, a horizontal cut is made across the bottom of each lettuce head about 1 ½ inches within an inch of their base. Different varieties will have different growth rates, but a general rule of thumb is that new lettuce leaves will be ready to harvest again about two weeks after cutting. We are hoping to get three or more cuttings from each head.
During the month of December all three lettuce varieties were harvested weekly. Everyone who took fresh lettuce home agreed that the taste was far superior to what comes from the grocery. Sometime around the middle of January we hope to start our second “cutting”. Then, in March we will be introducing a new Monticello “lost lettuce”. Stay tuned!
One special way to enjoy all three lettuce varieties is to combine them in a salad bowl mix. For extra color and flavor, I like adding dried cranberries, mandarin oranges and toasted walnuts. Tossed with Orange Walnut Vinaigrette from P. Allen Smith, it may become a favorite fresh salad this year.
Orange Walnut Vinaigrette Recipe
Special fresh lettuce and herb offer from the Edible Garden at Raincatcher’s:
Tuesday, January 5th we will be harvesting lettuce and herbs and would like to share. Drive by the back of our Edible Landscape and we will fill your bag (bring your own bag) with fresh produce from our garden. Line up at 10:00 am.
Please stay in your car and let us harvest for you. This offer is being made to Dallas Garden Buzz friends and we will give away lettuce and herbs until we run out. The herbs that are available are:
Thyme (Lemon and Odena’s Kitchen)
Bloody Sorrel (smaller leaves are a nice addition to fresh salads)
Calendula Flowers (limited amount)
Winter Savory (limited amount to use in soups and stews)