Blog Archives

Going Salad Crazy!

The garden is yielding more salad every week. The Salad Garden is producing a lot and the Family of 4 garden isn’t far behind.

This week we did a final harvest on the two rows of mesclun in the Family of 4 Garden, since they are starting to bolt. We also harvested a couple rows of lettuce and almost all the remaining radishes.

Bags of Salad These bags are full of lettuce, mesclun, radishes, Swiss Chard, and beet greens from the Salad Garden and the Family of 4 Garden.

From the Family of 4 Garden, we harvested about 1.5 pounds of lettuces and mesclun. We also harvested 1 bunch of radishes.

Something new from the Family of 4 Garden this week is the Swiss Chard and beet greens. The Swiss Chard was planted in mid-April, and this week was big enough to harvest some of the largest leaves. The beets we planted at the Baby Beet Greenssame time needed to be thinned, so we thinned them to 1 plant every 1-2 inches. Some of the plants were starting to develop tiny beets about the size of peas. Beet greens are also great for salads, so nothing got thrown away! We harvested 1 bunch of Swiss Chard leaves and about a 1.25 pounds of baby beet greens.

Swiss Chard and beet greens can be used for cooking in much the same way you use spinach. Just be aware to expect an “earthier” flavor!

Today’s Family of 4 Garden Totals:

1.5 lbs lettuce and salad mix = $15.31

1 bunch of radishes = $1.40

1 bunch of Swiss Chard = $2.50

1.25 pounds of baby beet greens (with some tiny beets) = $12.75  Most grocery stores only carry baby beet greens as part of salad mixes, not individually. I’ll price them at the same rate as I price the salad mix, unless I find something more comparable.

Today’s tentative harvest total comes out to $31.96. That brings our running total to about $71.50!

Giving Them Space to Grow

If you have ever planted vegetable seeds, you know how very tiny many of them are. It can be a huge challenge to get them spaced appropriately when seeding. (For larger gardens, I would encourage you to purchase some type of push seeder. It makes for less bending over when planting, and it conserves seed.) Therefore, it is important to thin the seedlings to the appropriate spacing shortly after they have germinated.

Obviously the 'Bright & Spicy' Mesclun needs to be thinned.

Obviously the 'Bright & Spicy' Mesclun needs to be thinned.

Thinning is both a psychological challenge and a timing issue. Timing is probably the easier to address. The seedlings should be big enough that you can easily grasp individual plants. However, they shouldn’t be so large that the roots have started entangling, making it hard to only pull out some of the seedlings. Usually when the plants have 4-5 leaves is a good stage to do your thinning.

The psychological challenge of thinning can be more difficult to overcome. It is hard to force yourself to go out and “murder” large numbers of baby plants! However, to have a good quality mature plant in a few weeks it is absolutely vital to thin.

The 'Bright & Spicy' mesclun is partially thinned.

The 'Bright & Spicy' mesclun is partially thinned.

I know the plants look sad, lonely, and dejected right after thinning, but it is really more like losing a baby tooth. In a week or two, you won’t even notice that these plants were thinned because the remaining plants will grow so much faster without the competition.

The other thing to consider in overcoming your psychological barrier to thinning plants is this – almost all baby vegetable seedlings are tasty as an early spring salad! (Well…baby salad greens anyway.)

Tiny radish plants can add zing to an early spring salad.

Tiny radish plants can add zing to an early spring salad.