A Big Salad For Dinner

A large bowl full of spring garden goodies.The garden is starting to produce in large enough amounts to fill my big bowl.

Lettuce, onions, chives, broccoli, radishes, beet greens, kale and even a couple of strawberries were taken to the house to prepare for dinner.

The result was a family sized salad when sliced almonds and poppy seed dressing were added at the end.

A family sized garden salad with fresh strawberries on top.I was happy to finally have the garden producing after all the harsh winter and very wet (I mean verrrry wet) spring and although we have been enjoying a few fresh springs out of the garden on a daily basis, this was the first large salad that was made from the plot.

 

Fortuitous Procrastination

One never runs out of tasks needed to be done on a farm.

It seems like life is a revolving list of things that needs to be done. Top of the list is always what is the current, most important item-usually critical. Things having to do with animal welfare, weather concerns, or my comfort are the highest priority.

Over the last couple of years, I have tended and neglected a DIY project just outside the kitchen, at the edge of the patio. It originally was a mini greens garden made from an old pallet. The slats on the one side made good barriers to retain moisture and control weed populations while allowing spinach, lettuces, mustard, kale, and cilantro to grow. Continue reading

Itching for Dirty Fingernails

While many are still celebrating the New Year, I am dreaming about warmer weather and getting my hands into the garden soil.

I was able to contain myself for only a couple of weeks before I started pulling out seedling trays. Starting with lettuce seeds, I planted three varieties of lettuce greens.

lettuce seedlings that have just broken the surface in the seedling tray.

The seeds have now sprouted and are sitting in front of a large window in the garage until they are big enough to be transplanted into my cold frame.

By the first of March, if the weather cooperates, I should be able to start harvesting the leaves along with fresh green onion tops from the seeds I had planted in the fall. The green chard that was wintered over in the garden should be growing by then also to add to the salads.

Fall Mini-greens Garden

The DIY project called a mini-greens garden filled with little seedlings. The fall planting of the wood pallet made into a mini-greens garden is happily growing as long as I remember to give it a shot a water every couple of days.

I had a friend ask me why I had a tomato plant growing at the front of one of the lettuce rows.

I replied that it was my early frost detection tomato. Actually it had just popped up as a volunteer. I had noticed it when I was planting this fall crop. I did not have the heart to pull it out and since frost hits tomatoes quickly, I left it to grow so that I would know right away when the temperature dips to 32 degrees.

This last week the thermometer has read in the upper 30’s several times so any day now we will have that first frost. At this elevation we can freeze anytime after the first of September so we are living on borrowed time.

Early Spring Greens

The first week of January was a good time to start a few lettuce seeds indoors. I used small starter cells filled with potting soil. Once the plants had been established, I transplanted the seedlings to two window planter boxes and set them on the back porch to catch the morning sun on warmer days, and still moved them inside during freezing weather.

A few weeks later, I started some plants in the greenhouse. I planted a few peas, leaf lettuce and spinach. By mid-March, I was able to enjoy fresh salads, long before I was able to plant the rest of the garden.

The first family sized harvest was mid-April. The sour sorrel was a bonus, a wild green that popped up next to the greenhouse. That little plant really takes me back to my youth. We used to sit along the road bank at the home place and pretend the sour sorrel that grew in the lawn was spinach when we acted out our favorite Popeye stories.

The peas are twenty four inches tall but will not be producing for several more weeks, by that time the ground should be worked and I’ll be able to plant a long row of peas and other cool weather crops in the main area of the garden.

The dinner salad was delicious with the addition of store bought cucumber, radishes and sweet peppers.

Green salad made with fresh greens from garden with cucumber, radish and peppers.

A New Twist for the Garden

I peek at other gardeners occasionally to see what they are up to these days. I came across an interesting idea for a block of garden that claimed to take all the work out of weeding! This seemed too good to be true, so I investigated the rumor.

The gardener re-used a pallet to make the garden space. It was a simple idea of filling the pallet with soil and planting vegetables between the slats (strips of wood on the top of the pallet). The slats divided the pallet into rows, creating a barrier for weed germination and growth. With less of the soil in direct contact with the air, less water would be needed to keep soil moist.

The Staple gun.only tools I used on this project were a pair of scissors, a small shovel, and a staple gun.

Two weeks ago, I found a pallet with fairly uniform slats that had about two inches of gap between each slat. I used landscaping fabric that can be found anywhere plants are sold. I laid the pallet on top of the fabric to determine the cutting lines. While the pallet was laying on the fabric, I cut around the edges adding two to three inches on all sides. This left enough fabric to fold up the sides before stapling. For those without a staple gun, thumbtacks would also work for this project.

I stapled the fabric all the way around the pallet. Since my cutting was not measured, it was not exact. No problem, I just folded the fabric in along the pallet in those spots where it was too long and stapled it anyway. It made the edge nice and straight. On the two open edges of the pallet, I had enough fabric to not only pull over the open edge of the pallet, but covered the first slat, just for the heck of it.

I filled the pallet with soil and watered it with a couple gallons of rain water that I collected during the week.Five packets of seeds.

Next, I planted a mixture of greens, one variety in each row and labeled the rows. A tarp was put over the pallet to incubate the seeds while they germinated. Deciding what to plant was the hardest part of the whole project. Any root crop was out because there would not be enough soil for root to grow effectively. Like wise with any larger, busy fruit, this is a small space garden. I decided to use this area for salad greens. The pallet is set up near the house so that harvesting will only be a few steps from the kitchen.

Today I took off the tarp and my greens are just starting to emerge.

seedlings emerging

Just for decoration I set my two planters on the larger end slats (they also held the tarp in place during germination). These planters have been producing lettuce since January and look puny right now because I had just harvested them for the third time last week.

I will update this post as my new twist on gardening develops.