Lettuce Iceberg is widely used in fast foods like burgers, sandwiches, wraps, and many salads as it adds a refreshing touch to the food preparations. When raw, it has a crunch to it which makes it a perfect ingredient for burgers. It is considered one of the sweeter lettuce varieties among other types of lettuce.
It can grow up to 1 – 1.2 feet in diameter once fully grown and mature. It has a blend of green to white shades going from outer to inner layers.
It was first transported with trucks filled with ice to keep it from wilting and hence it is called lettuce iceberg.
In appearance, the plant looks similar to cabbage. It is light green in color and has low nutritional value as compared to other colored varieties. However, it contains vitamins A & K and can be used as an addition to salad to enhance its health benefits.
It is very easy to grow lettuce iceberg in your home garden to get a fresh harvest every time when you want to use it. Lettuce iceberg grows very quickly and hence it is recommended to grow a few seeds at a time to get a continuous harvest across the year.
Nutritional Value of Lettuce Iceberg
Lettuce iceberg has good amounts of vitamin A and K along with small amounts of calcium, potassium, vitamin C, and folate. It has low fiber content but high water content. It is this high water content which gives it a refreshing taste during summers.
It has low calorific value, sugar and fat content. As compared to other lettuce varieties, it has low nutritional values. One leaf of lettuce iceberg contains about 1 calorie. It is a good addition to your diet plan.
Common Notion: “Is Lettuce Iceberg Bad?”
No, lettuce iceberg is not bad. It is considered useless by many because it has lesser nutrition than other varieties. However, it does contain some beneficial vitamins and minerals considered very essential for body:
- Lettuce iceberg contains about 75 calories per head (medium) which aids in weight loss
- It contains folate which is required for protection against birth defects
- It contains Vitamin C and phytonutrients in good amounts (although lesser than other varieties) which have anti-oxidant properties and helps boost the body’s immune system
- Lettuce iceberg has a good amount of vitamin A which helps keep your eyes protected and healthy
- It ensures a good bowel movement and prevents constipation
- Vitamin K helps keep your bones healthy
- It is also believed that lettuce iceberg helps in preventing cardiovascular diseases.
Growing Your Own Lettuce
Optimum Temperature To Grow Lettuce Iceberg
Seeds of lettuce iceberg should be sown in late winters or early spring or at the start of fall preferably during February or October in India. If you live in countries other than India, seeds should be sown when the temperature is around 18°C (or 65°F). It is a cold season vegetable.
However, it can be grown in summers as well to get a constant supply. Choose a location that gets morning and evening sun but not the afternoon sun. It is a perfect spot for your lettuce in summers. If you cannot shift your vegetable garden from a hot sunny spot, you can think about covering your garden with a cloth to avoid direct afternoon summer sun.
Lettuce is a leafy green, hence it needs abundant sunlight for its growth. It is not an indoor plant. Hence a sunny but comparatively colder spot is necessary for its growth.
It can tolerate mild frost. However, heavy frost (in colder countries) may kill the plant.
Best Soil For Growing Lettuce Iceberg
As with other vegetables, lettuce requires well-drained soil for perfect growth. You can also grow lettuce easily using the hydroponic technique. It is a perfect choice for hydroponic cultivation because of its small root system and shorter length of the plant.
You can use normal garden soil to grow lettuce. Make sure your pot has sufficient drainage holes at the bottom if you plan growing lettuce in pots.
Fertilizing Lettuce Iceberg
Since lettuce is a leafy green, a fertilizer rich in nitrogen is a good choice. You can use garden compost as a fertilizer. Apply a handful of compost every 6-7 days.
Alternatively, you can apply NPK fertilizers in small amounts. Do not apply fertilizer directly to the root system. Dig the shallow soil around the circumference of the pot, sprinkle a small amount of fertilizer, cover the hole with soil again, and water the plant thoroughly. The plant will respond to fertilizer application in 5-6 days.
Roots of lettuce iceberg do not like to sit in water. Keep the soil moist but do not overwater the plant. Water only when you see the top 1 inch of soil completely dry.
Do not water the leaves. Water only the soil. Watering the leaves may induce wilting and attract pests and diseases.
Harvesting Lettuce Iceberg
Lettuce iceberg can be harvested in 10-12 weeks (80-90 days) after sowing the seeds.
Cut the head of the lettuce iceberg just where you see the start of leaf growth. Leave the stalk behind. One plant can provide multiple harvests in the growing season.
The stalk left behind will grow the leaves again to give you a second harvest.
Once harvested, lettuce should be stored in cold storage. To keep it healthy, crunchy and green for a longer time, wrap the lettuce in a newspaper or any paper packet and keep in the refrigerator.
This article lists some ways to keep your lettuce fresh for a longer time.
Uses of Lettuce Iceberg
Ensure that you wash lettuce thoroughly under running water before using it your preparations. Its leaves may have residues of pesticides and other chemicals that are washed away under running water.
Lettuce iceberg has a mild taste and hence it is a good addition to salad recipes. It can be used in combination with:
- Tomatoes, cucumbers, raisins, corn, carrots, radish, and beetroot in salads.
- Watermelons, apple
- Nuts and seeds
- As an ingredient in burgers, wraps & sandwiches.
Its leaves can be shredded and used in various salads. Overcooking lettuce iceberg leads to loss of its crunchiness.
Diseases & Pests
You can use organic fertilizers like neem oil spray to keep the pests away. Since lettuce is used raw in many recipes, it is recommended to use organic pesticides only. Avoid applying chemical pesticides as it may adversely affect your health when eaten raw.
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