How to Grow the Best Spring Greens & Lettuces

Now is the time to boost your health with fresh garden greens! Garden greens are some of the most nutrient-dense plants for your health, packed with cancer-fighting folates. Lettuces are also primarily self-pollinating, making them an easy option to save your own seeds for future gardening seasons They even naturally filter water from the ground, providing a clean food source of hydration for emergencies.
In the spring, begin setting out lettuce plants about a month before the last frost. Lettuce grows best within a temperature range from 45 to about 80 degrees. Hot weather makes it bitter and extreme cold freezes it. 
With so many varieties of lettuces, kales, chards and spring salad favorites to choose from where should you begin with your planting choices?
Preparing Your Soil for Planting Spring Greens & Lettuces
First, make sure your garden beds and soil have been prepared for planting. In Back to Eden Gardening, this means your soil has been layered with nutrient rich compost and mulch. If your soil is bare and needs more nutrients, it's never too late to add mulch and compost. However, for spring mulching it can be beneficial to first plant small seeds in the compost or soil and let them get established before adding the top mulch layer. Using a shovel or bucket, side dress in between your plant rows after they have matured. Add 2-4 inches of mulch (arborist wood chips preferred). This can help improve your tiny seed's germination rate.
Nature provides the ultimate example for the most resilient, regenerative growing systems on the planet. Back to Eden Gardening mimics nature in every aspect of its principles and growing practices. There are five growing principles of Back to Eden Gardening:
  1. No-till: Increase soil structure, soil fertility and reduce top-soil loss and increase carbon sequestration by eliminating tillage, digging, or disturbance to the soil. 
  2. Organic: Eliminate the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides.
  3. Regenerative: Build or rebuild the soil. Restoring degraded soil is the essence of soil regeneration. 
  4. Biodiversity: Increase biodiversity by planting a variety of species. Eliminate monocultures, monocrops, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and gene editing. Maintaining living roots in the soil is essential for feeding the soil food web and keeping mycorrhizal fungi alive. 
  5. Covering the Soil: Protect the soil by maintaining a cover on the surface of the soil. Natural ecosystems provide consistent nutrient cycling by adding organic matter to the top of the soil. Beneficial soil coverings include organic mulch, living mulch, and cover crops.
These no-till regenerative organic gardening principles build healthy soil, produce more nutrient-dense foods.
Best Lettuces & Greens to Plant 
Romaine Lettuce - Go insane with your favorite Romaine! This heirloom variety has bolt resistance and vigorous growth making it a dependable performer that produces tender baby greens in just a few weeks. It's also a highly nutrient dense choice.
Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce - We recommend this variety because it withstands hot, dry conditions and light frosts better than other varieties.
Rainbow Swiss Chard - You may recall the stunning array of colorful growth in the opening scenes to Back to Eden Film. The star of the show was Rainbow Swiss Chard. Not only is it a beauty, but it also is one of the most versatile and hardy greens you can grow. It can be eaten fresh or cooked. It has a much greater heat and cold tolerance than many lettuces.
Kale - Kale is technically not a lettuce but is a favorite green every BTE gardener should grow as a staple crop. However, adding biodiversity is key. That's why we recommend this kale variety pack to see which flavors and textures you like best and which ones perform best in your climate.
Butter Crunch - Who wouldn't want lettuce that feels like butter in your mouth?! This variety really is a delicate and juicy culinary favorite. They also look gorgeous and are easy to grow. Their broad leaves make them great for use as a lettuce wrap summer fresh recipe.
Lettuce Greens Variety Pack - Want to try all the lettuce varieties you possibly can? The best choice for the most bang for your buck is the spring lettuce bulk pack.
Planting Tips for Lettuces & Greens
Follow the planting instructions on each individual packet. A rule of thumb for Back to Eden Gardens when planting small seeds is to surface sow, not planting too deep. Since mulch gardens can cause seed rows to get too deeply buried to germinate this can help improve seed germination. Don't be afraid to over-sow the seed beds and thin them later.
Harvesting Lettuces & Greens
People who sell at markets will typically harvest the entire head of the plant for easier transport. However, when harvesting lettuces and greens for your home kitchen garden we recommend picking the leaves from lettuces and greens from the outside layer, all season instead of cutting off the entire head at once. This prolongs the growing season, boosts plant vigor and gives you the most out of your plant.
Need Back to Eden Gardening advice? Lettuce help! Join the Back to Eden Gardening Facebook Group and connect with our community of thousands of growers worldwide!

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