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June 10, 2010

Budding Gourmets: DIY Garden.

It’s not always easy raising a child who loves fruits, veggies and salads.

By Jessica Isclisoy

So how about giving children a lesson that is ‘caught, not taught?’ Try adding a small raised bed or a few pots filled with easy-to-grow lettuces to your backyard, terrace or balcony. Lettuce grows fast and is a breeze to maintain, making it pretty fail-proof—even for the newest of gardeners. Your child will soon be sowing and harvesting like a pro.

Cut & Come Again

Cut and come again is a term used for continuous harvesting of the outer lettuce leaves that grow quickly and loosely on a stem, rather than compacted into heads like iceberg or Boston lettuce. Mixes, which can go by different names but are usually called Mesclun or gourmet mix, are typically very hardy and slow to bolt (go to seed). When harvesting, simply snip off the larger outer leaves. As you harvest your bounty, take the opportunity to encourage your child to taste as you go, identifying each flavor. Asking simple open-ended questions like, “I wonder if this lettuce will taste bitter or sweet” takes the pressure off the healthy eating aspect, and a brings a bit of fun to the process. A nonchalant attitude is usually all it takes to spark a child’s curiosity to take initiative and try it all!

Tips & Tricks

  • In mild climates, lettuce can be sown spring through fall.
  • At the peak of summer or in hot summer climates, lettuce prefers some shade.
  • When preparing your bed or pot, add plenty of compost to encourage rapid growth.
  • Water evenly and moderately to prevent bitterness.

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Jessica Iclisoy, developer of California Baby, is an entrepreneur and mama of two.

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