Fresh lettuce right from our garden continues to be on our evening menus.
And it is almost January. In Kansas.
This will not last, though. Snow tomorrow and the forecast low for tomorrow night is in the low teens, with a high of 29 degrees on New Year’s Day.
Welcome to Kansas and its fickle weather.
Not that I am complaining. Last winter I got all of my exercise with almost daily snow shoveling.
At this moment I am waiting for boxes of garden seed to arrive, as I have already hit the mail order catalogs.
Lettuce -- naturally -- was a focus of my seed purchasing for the next growing season.
After reading through descriptions of dozens of varieties of lettuce, I finally settled on 14 varieties for this year. They won’t all be planted at the same time, as some were chosen for their heat tolerance and others were chosen for their ability to withstand cold. Some were put on my list simply because they look really cool or have a name that appealed to me.
Often thought of as simply a nutrition-poor base for salads, lettuce is actually fairly nutritious. It can’t compare to the nutrition in such things as kale or chard, but it is certainly not nutrition-free. The deeper the color of the lettuce, the more nutrition it has, since many of our nutrients are related to pigments found in foods. Romaine and loose leaf lettuce varieties tend to have the highest levels of nutrients, partly because sunlight can penetrate to the core leaves, giving them richer color.
Lettuce even has medicinal qualities.
That milky sap that oozes from the lower end of the middle ribs when you cut the lettuce, and is most abundant in mature lettuce plants, is where the medicinal nature of lettuce lies. It is most often used to induce sleep. The genus name of lettuce, Lactuca, and the name “lettuce” itself both are references to that milky sap.