By Dane Feldman
Photo by Dane Feldman.
One way to eat clean and be sustainable all at the same time is to grow your own vegetables and herbs. My parents have been big gardeners my whole life and I have absolutely no shame in saying that my folks do it so well, especially considering the fact that they do not have a large yard and live in northern New Jersey, where weather doesn’t always cooperate.
Leaf lettuce and arugula are fantastic for a home garden, especially if you’re new to gardening. The packets of seeds are dirt cheap (pun intended) and you’ll only need one packet per type of lettuce to harvest a substantial amount.
What you’ll need:
1 packet leaf lettuce seeds
1 packet arugula seeds
If you live in a place where the climate matches that of northern New Jersey, plant in mid to late March if the weather seems mild enough and the soil is warm. Most Marches are temperate enough, but if it’s cold/ still snowing, then wait until early April.
When planting, first take one type of lettuce seeds and sprinkle them in a designated area. Then, in a separate area (this can be adjacent to the first section, just leave about a foot of space for growth) sprinkle the other seeds. Pro tip — sprinkle the seeds the same way you would sprinkle salt on food.
Depending on the weather, you should have lettuce ripe for the pickin’ in just under two months. This year, my mother planted the seeds in early April and picked the arugula for the first time on Memorial Day. The leaf lettuce came a week later.
One of the most important steps to ensuring that you have lettuce all summer long is to harvest a little bit at a time. My mother says to cut the largest leaves only so that you can harvest repeatedly until about July or August. When the plants bolt to seed (due to heat), the lettuce becomes bitter. Once this happens, if you want more lettuce, pull it all out and replant in mid-August. In September, you should have another batch, which will be ready to harvest until the first frost. That being said, she also says arugula should withstand several light frosts.