When commercial producers of leafy greens fail the public and give contaminated lettuce to the salad-craving masses, the only reasonable option, and the only way to fight back, is to grow your own greens. Growing your own greens helps keep your lettuce and spinach free of harmful bacteria that can give your family food poisoning.
Start from seed
Buying a lettuce plant from the store to grow in your home means that you have not had control over its possible exposure to E. coli bacteria. To make this work, you have to start from seed in a clean growing environment.
Try Hydroponic or Aeroponic
Using a hydroponic or aeroponic system for growing soil can end up with less mess and soil for an indoor container garden. You can pick up a hydroponic or aeroponic growing kit for leafy greens at most garden and home improvement stores. If you want a larger garden than that, visit a hydroponics store and talk with the store owner about a larger hydroponic setup for your lettuce patch.
Use sterile soil
Sterile soil is a must when growing healthy leafy greens that are free of pathogens and E. Coli. Ensuring that you start with sterile growing media (usually soil) for your lettuce greens helps ensure that your plants stay healthy so they can provide health to you.
You can sterilize soil by essentially treating it like a turkey. Sterilize soil in the oven by placing it in a vented oven bag (like those used for turkey) and baking it until the center of the soil reaches 180. Use a meat thermometer stuck in the middle of the soil to gauge the temperature, and check periodically to avoid burning the organic material in the soil.
The oven should be set around 180 or 200 degrees for this process. Leave the soil to cool for at least six hours. The soil will obviously be hot; do not touch it until it is fully cooled. It may feel cool on the outside and still be skin-searing hot on the inside, so the best bet is to wait it out.
Do this after you have added mulch, compost and any other organic additives to the soil; if you do it before, you will have to do it again to achieve sterile soil.
Like spinach, lettuce can grow in heads or in loose-leaf varieties; generally loose-leaf lettuce is better for indoor container gardens because it requires less space. Loose-leaf means that you pick the leaves off one at a time, rather than harvesting a head. Varieties of loose-leaf lettuce include Lovina and Red Sails lettuce.
What are the Symptoms of E. Coli?
According to the Ohio State University symptoms of E. Coli infection include diarrhea, which may or may not contain blood, and abdominal cramps, but generally do not include a fever.
E. Coli bacteria come in several kinds, and not all of them are unhealthy. In fact, some of them are always present in a normal and functioning digestive system.
Ohio State University: E. Coli
Preventing E. Coli From Garden to Plate
CNN Living: Lettuce lovers go E. coli-free with container gardens