The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Is it worth planting a lettuce root from the grocery store?

Hydroponic lettuce in soil
Do you ever get an urge to plant the remnants of vegetables from the grocery store? Many of them will grow...although it might not be worth your while to nurture them into producing a second crop.

Lettuce head with rootsI'd read about folks planting carrot tops and other detritus from their salad-making, but hadn't been buying enough grocery-store produce to even consider giving it a try. But when the lettuce head at the left ended up in our kitchen this winter with a big mass of roots still attached, I couldn't resist the urge to set it out in the garden.

I planted that lettuce under a quick hoop in the middle of February...and it sat there for weeks doing nothing at all. The photo at the top of this post shows the plant's current state nearly two months later. It's finally almost large enough to pick a few leaves from...although, for the sake of comparison, leaf lettuce direct-seeded on the same date is nearly as big:

Direct-seeded lettuce

What's with that lettuce root growing so slowly? I suspect that February lettuce from Krogers is hydroponic produce grown at the perfect temperature and nutrient levels. In the wild weather of an Ohio garden, hot-house varieties are going to lose the sprint to harvest to my hardy Black-seeded Simpson every time.



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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.



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