14 April 2008

On a bed of greens

This is our third growing season together and consequently it's our third year growing lettuce. The first year we didn't get to the spring planting in time, but the fall harvest was a boom. The second year saw results that were the complete opposite; the spring planting was on time and plentiful, but the deer and rabbits had their way with the fall sprouts. What has been consistent is that every planting has been direct seed.

This year we reinforced the fence, said to hell with consistency, and started some of the seeds indoors. We were really surprised at how well they did. Out of a tray of 72, only two didn't sprout. If I knew the names of the varieties [Buttercrunch and Black Seeded Simpson --Meg] I'd tell ya, but Meg's at work and she's the wiz at keeping that shit straight. I usually learn food names by consumption. (and I digress) Last week we hardened off our sprouts and Saturday we put them in the ground.

We're pairing this particular bed of greens with poling peas (the ones that survived at least). Last year this bed was a mix of fabulous carrots and failed parsnips. As I was digging the trench to put in the plants and fresh compost I discovered a carrot that managed to go unnoticed last fall.

We made short work of the carrot that evening. It was tasty.

It's been two days since we transplanted our future salads and everything looks great. Hopefully this weekend we can return to consistency and direct seed a bed of lettuce and also get our spinach going as well.


Farmgirl_dk: said...

Nice work - your rows look mah-velous! I spent some time in my own mini garden this weekend...I put up a deer fence (we'll see how well it works - I did it myself) and got a couple rows of yukon golds, peas, and radishes into the ground. My seed trays of basil, celery, chives and lavender are growing like crazy. Jim think I've planted things outside way too close together, which I probably did, but hey, I figure, this is my first time and I'm calling it my "test" garden. Whatever doesn't work this year, I will learn from and do differently next year, right? The best part was that I had my 12 "girls" out in the garden with me...talk about entertaining!

El said...

Excellent! Now do yourselves a favor and plant lettuce seeds between the rows. Because they'll probably be planted close (the seeds are damned small) you can plant maybe 2 rows this week and then 2 in a week or so. You'll be happy in lettuce for a while then!

I need to transfer a ton of my lettuce seedlings out of the greenhouse and into the cold garden just to slow them down a bit. Same with the cabbages/broccoli/kales. Maybe this weekend, if it doesn't snow like this last one??

Kelly said...

faboo! I started lettuce inside this year for the first time, too...about 120 heads, I think! I know. Nuts! They're only just now getting their second sets of leaves though. I'll harden them off in a couple of weeks and then put them in. But have sown some by seed in the raised beds, too. I have to fence this year...the squirrels are digging up all of my seed! No peas or favas thanks to the rodents. And I've seen a lot of rabbits out in the yard. But dang. I have 4 different gardens going now. That's a lot of fencing and potentially fugly. Ah well...food preservation at the root of it!

Anonymous said...

Ooooh! I'm so jealous, maybe I'll go buy some seedlings of lettuce if I can find any. It looks so pretty! Love the carrot -- I found 2 golden beets Sunday. I haven't eaten them, though, since it is only 2 -- but maybe I'll use them in a salad.

As for the rabbits and rodents -- how about predator urine? Man is a predator, right?


N. & J. said...

We tried to sprout lettuce in seedling trays and had only two sprout so this weekend we are going to try your technique of direct planting.

Robbyn said...

Oh, everything's beautiful!

frugalmom said...

Okay...I have a question. I have tried lettuce in the garden once...the rabbits kept it pretty well mowed down to the ground. Once you get it growing well and it actually looks like lettuce...do you just pick the leaves off, like a spring mix or do you cut off the whole head? And, if you cut off the whole head then is that it? So you have to grow tons to be able ot eat off it for awhile? Help me out here.

Kelly said...

Hey Danni,
Good luck with the deer fencing.
I was just telling Meg the other day how amazed I am at the progress we've made these past three years. It most certainly is a learn as you go experience.

Hello El,
Thanks for the advice. It's crazy how lettuce, if not planned well, can go from too much to not enough. We do have a second bed of greens planned for direct seeding this weekend. We'll be sure to keep both properly rotated.

Hello Kelly,
120 heads?! Holy shit. I hear you on the anti-critter reinforcements. I think the mild winter has caused a boost in rabbit and squirrel populations. Good luck.

Hey Ali,
Women are predators too and we are both answering the call.

Hello N. & J.
We've found the secret to direct seeding is to keep the soil moist at all times. Starting plants indoors is great because you can start your seeds much earlier.

Hey Robbyn,
Many thanks, we try.

Hey Frugal Mom,
It all depends on the kind of lettuce you plant. There are kinds that head and others that are loose leaf. The loose leaf can be snipped and let to regenerate a number of times. We're planting both.