When putting together your shopping list or fruit and vegetable home delivery order this week it is almost certain that you will have lettuce of some type in it. The humble lettuce. One of the most commonly consumed fresh produce items in the warmer months has quite a history to it. It is the basis for most salads and gives hamburgers and sandwich contents the “fluff” to minimise any chance of seeming stodgy. There’s a lot more to lettuce than meets the eye. In the warmer months lettuce is one of the most consistently ordered products for our fruit and vegetable home delivery service.
Lettuce was first cultivated by the Egyptians who changed it from what was a viewed as a weed to something whose seeds were used to produce oil and then to a plant grown for its leaves. Evidence for its first cultivation dates back to 2680 BC. Lettuce was considered a sacred plant of the reproduction god Min and it was carried during his festivals and placed near his images. The plant was believed to help the god perform the sexual act untiringly.
Lettuce is reasonably easy to grow, although it requires relatively low temperatures to prevent it from flowering (known as bolting) quickly. It is difficult to germinate at temperatures above 30 degrees and grows best at temperatures between 20 and 28 degrees. It’s a lazy feeder – its needs plenty of nutrients in the soil and good water availability and nutrient deficiencies are quick to show, not to mention intolerances to an oversupply of some elements – it is very susceptible to sodium toxicity at levels as low as 50ppm in solution. Most Australian artesian water supplies have sodium levels above 70ppm. As the lettuce goes to flower it becomes bitter and unsaleable, so plants grown for eating are rarely allowed to grow to maturity. Lettuce flowers more quickly in hot temperatures, while freezing temperatures cause slower growth and sometimes damage to outer leaves.
We take most of the hassle out of having to grow it by growing it on the Paradise Fresh farm for you. This is one of our biggest assets for our fruit and vegetable home delivery service. Freshness that can only be guaranteed by local produce.
A few tips from Farmer Brendon the lettuce grower:
* Lettuce need good nutrition so plenty of fertiliser or composting for the soil. It actually needs more potassium than nitrogen and prefers its nitrogen sourced as nitrates rather than ammonium. Even small amounts of ammonium added to the soil will cause the stems to rot from the inside. Be careful not to over fertilise otherwise it will act like a salt on the plants roots and actively try to suck water out of the plant.
* Try to plant from seed rather than seedling as the seedlings usually struggle for nutrition in their early stages as they are pushed to grow quickly by the seedling suppliers through overwatering in a growing medium with low nutrition. The lettuce are more likely to grow with some size before bolting when sown from seed. I find this applies to many of the leafy vegetables notorious for difficult growing – such as bok choy, coriander and parsley.
* If you plant the frilly varieties you can pick the older leaves off leaving the plant to continue on growing.
* We have a large hydroponic installation growing a lot of the frilly types of lettuce. A few tips for growing hydroponically – keep water temperatures below 30 degrees, have a 1in 20 slope on the growing pipes instead 1 in 40 (it allows the water to drain quicker and helps increase oxygenation), keep pH below 6.1 to aid maximum iron and calcium availability.
Storing the Lettuce
Storage is best at 1 degree and high humidity. This is how we store it once it arrives at any one of our fruit and vegetable home delivery service warehouses. For our hydroponic frilly lettuce I recommend putting it in a shopping bag or enclosed container in the fridge. Take leaves from the lettuce as needed but make sure to keep the bag or container fully closed afterwards. Lettuce quickly degrades when stored with fruit such as bananas, pears and apples due to the natural release of the ripening gas ethylene.
Lettuce is a good source of vitamin A and potassium, as well as a minor source of several other vitamins and nutrients.
The 3 main types of lettuce are:
Cos (or Romaine) – primarily used in Ceasar salads,
Iceberg – used for sandwiches, hamburgers and salads. It is low in flavour and nutrition, having the highest water content of all the types.
Leafy – for cutleaf production (salad mixes) and tossed salads. It is the most nutritions of all the types and adds colour to any salad.
There are a few other types of lettuce we are not accustomed to seeing. One variety, the Woju or asparagus lettuce is grown for its stems and are eaten either raw or cooked. There are even some varieties grown for use in making tobacco-free cigarettes. There are no genetically modified versions of lettuce that have been developed for commercial purposes.
Our fruit and vegetable home delivery franchises will generally offer Iceberg, Cos and Frilly lettuce (either whole or as a salad mix).
Worldwide lettuce production topped 23 million tons, with China producing more than half of it.
Leafy products such as lettuce are the greatest indicators of freshness in a store. They are one of the most perishable items on offer. You should be able to receive your lettuce and have it keep well for 2 weeks afterwards providing you follow the storage tips as outlined above. Paradise Fresh fruit and vegetable home delivery service offers you the best chance of this occurring. We deliver fresh produce to you shortly after receiving it, nothing is put on display shelves to minimise its storage life and it is all delivered refrigerated in an insulated esky arriving cool and fresh to your kitchen/fridge. Enjoy your salads this summer.
Paradise Fresh Tamworth delivers quality fruit and vegetables to the customers door. We service Tamworth, Kootingal, Moore Creek, Loomberah, Manilla and Gunnedah. We also service cafes restaurants, pubs clubs and schools with wholesale fruit and vegetables.
Paradise Fresh are a premium quality home delivered fruit and vegetable franchise business with all orders placed through their website. Paradise Fresh have plenty of business opportunities throughout eastern Australia both in the capital cities and regional areas such as Toowoomba, Canberra, Wollongong, Wagga Wagga, Griffith, Bathurst, Cairns, Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and many other areas.