I have two weeks of leafy greens harvests to report today. The Grocery Garden has green and red butterhead lettuces that are at the baby leaf stage, a mesclun that is slightly larger than baby sized, and a lettuce mix that is at baby leaf stage.
Not a beautiful picture, I know. This is the “after” harvest shot of the Wildfire Lettuce Mix. We harvest the leaves down to almost nothing so that the plants stay smaller and the leaves more tender.
Harvest report from May 9th and May 16th:
- 3.4 lbs baby lettuces @ $5.99 per lb = $20.62
- 0.86 lbs baby mesclun @ $5.99 per lb = $5.16
Total for past two weeks: $25.78
Year to Date Total = $33.98
Salad greens total up quickly, but the catch is you have to want to eat $10 worth of salad each week. That’s a lot of salad for some people!
After a week of warmer temperatures and MORE rain, the garden has grown a lot! We also planted some of the warm season plants and plan to plant more this coming week.
The peas in particular have grown significantly and most of them are starting to flower.
Most years, we may have one variety of peas planted in one area. This year we have 5 different pea varieties – one heirloom shelling pea, one snow pea, one sugar snap pea, and two peas for containers. This is the ‘Peas in a Pot’ variety. It is about 10 inches tlal and is already flowering and setting pods.
The sprouting broccoli in the barrel planter is starting to head in the center. Next week we will probably remove that small head in order to encourage development of side shoots. Sprouting broccoli doesn’t form large central heads, but it won’t be very productive if the central head isn’t removed.
The tomatoes were all planted this week, although we are waiting until next week for the peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, and melons. Because of the grafted plants, we couldn’t plant them deeper, resulting in some creative staking to keep the plants upright until the stems have gotten stronger.
We planted this Dragon Tongue Arugula in the Grocery Garden. This variety has highly lobed leaves with red veins. It has proven to be a very slow grower so far and the germination wasn’t great. We will wait and see if it improves with time.
The new Prairie Star Annual trial garden was planted this week too. If you have driven by, you probably saw the row of big containers. These are for demonstrating the Prairie Star Annual Flower trials. We are excited for this new usage of the front of the Demo Garden space. Hopefully this area will be a beautiful color show all summer.
Last year, we planted a lot of tomatoes, cucumbers, and other warm season veggies in the accessible beds. This year, we swung the other way and have planted (and already planted) a wide variety of cool season vegetables.
In the tiered garden, we removed the raspberry that really hadn’t done much. I think it needed more sun that in that location. We opted for swiss chard and a kale mix for spring planting in the two lower tiers, intending for those crops to grow through most of the summer. Then the kale will be replaced with a red veined spinach in the fall. We will replant the chard if needed.
The center tier will have two tomatoes and two basils. The ‘Little Napoli’ was a variety that did well last year and we wanted to try it again. ‘Patio Princess’ is a new compact dwarf that is supposed to have up to 4 oz. fruit.
The two barrel planters and the salad table are also featuring cool season vegetables this year. The larger barrel planter is planted to spinach and a green, Italian sprouting broccoli for the spring. It will have purple kohlrabi and orange carrots for the fall.
The smaller barrel planter is planted to a variety of pea called ‘peas-in-a-pot’ that is supposed to work well in containers. In the fall, we are trying “Kalettes,” which are a cross between brussels sprouts and kale. They have shoots/sprouts along the stem like brussels sprouts, but they are open florets rather than mini-cabbages.
In the salad table, we have radishes, green onions, and mixed lettuce for the spring. The cutting celery and parsley will grow through the summer (we hope!), and then the other veggies will be replanted for the fall.
Just because you are growing in smaller planters doesn’t mean you need to skip trying out the weird stuff!
It’s a rainy day in the demo garden. Or rather it was a rainy day, and is now a drenching, downpour day. Let’s just say that things are sufficiently watered for the foreseeable future. Of course, one of the benefits of raised beds is the improved drainage, so we will probably be watering again long before many of you!
Our spring lettuces, leafy greens, cabbages, and more are growing quickly with the relatively warm, moist conditions.
The quilt block lettuce had grown significantly, so we did a heavy harvest of it this week.
Another view of the lettuce with the evening light hitting the leaves.
We got a LOT of lettuce off of a 4′ x 8′ area. About 12 bags worth, I think?
A bouquet of lettuce leaves. Many of the lettuce leaves were quite large. It was also interesting to see the different textures. The red and green oakleaf lettuces (‘Mascara’ and ‘Encino’) were much more delicate leaves. The red romaine (‘Thurinus’ – center above), was sturdy but without the thick midrib you might expect of a more mature romaine. The ‘New RedFire’ and ‘Muir’ which are leaf and summercrisp types respectively, were also sturdier leaves.
It’s not something that necessarily matters a lot, but it does affect storage life and eating quality. Some people may prefer eating the more tender leaves than the thicker leaves. However, from a storage standpoint, the sturdier leaves are going to last longer in the refrigerator due to the fact that they leaves are not as easily bruised.
And after a lettuce-centric post, I’ll leave you with our perennial garden sage, which is happily blooming right now, even with all the rain.
Have a great weekend and stay dry!
If you’ve been on Facebook or Pinterest at all in the past couple years, you’ve probably seen someone growing something in a pallet. The plants look lush and gorgeous, you can set it up vertically so it doesn’t take up much space, and it looks soooo easy!
So we decided to try it out. I found some instructions that recommended stapling landscape fabric on the back and three sides, then filling with potting soil, planting, and waiting two weeks for plants to grow before setting it upright.
(I’ll give you the sneak preview…everyone thought this project was much more difficult than advertised!)
The starting point….an ugly old pallet. This is actually after we had started nailing down some of the loose slats. The other interesting thing – the bottom has extra holes in it where a forklift would pick it up. Hmm…which side to cover?
We decided to cover the side with the larger holes, because we weren’t sure how the soil would stay in otherwise. We also ended up doing two layers of landscape fabric to make sure it was sturdy enough.
One of the Master Gardeners had brought along a few old lathe slats and we decided to nail them along the back just to help stabilize everything. Did we have to do this step? No. Does everyone feel a lot better about the durability of the project now? Yes, absolutely!
It took about 4-5 cu. feet of potting soil to fill the pallet.
We planted some of our leftover lettuce seedlings in the pallet. We also have some strawberries that we will put in later. (If I don’t manage to kill them in my office first…watering…it’s helpful!)
The final result…it would have been more picturesque had we had some green lettuce too, but I guess we’ll survive with the two shades of red!
We will stand it up on end in another couple weeks and see how things go! My biggest concern with all projects like this is how are we going to keep it sufficiently watered, especially once it is vertical. I foresee lots of water running everywhere.