Tag Archives: lettuce

Spring? Where Did You Go??

Lettuce cut for salad

Hacked off lettuce.

I know I always start my seeds too early. But never before have I actually had to eat the lettuce I was growing in my 40 cell seed starter.

It feels very cannabalistic. But I had to. The lettuce was 6 inches high and growing fast!

I confess, it was quite tasty. And I confess to adding liquid fertilizer to the grow tray after the slaughter. Why not? Hydroponic gardeners do that, right?

Lettuce waiting to be cut.

Lettuce watching me.

But the remains are sitting on the desk, in front of the big window, watching me. It’s really, really weird.   Now it’s all hacked off. And it’s all my fault.

This year, like every year, I started lettuce and beets in the basement in early February. The plan was to put the healthy transplants in the ground in early March.

The plan was thwarted by 6 inches of snow, followed closely by 2 inches of pure ice and topped off with another 4 inches of snow. It fell almost 2 weeks ago but still, it lingers.

Tomato babies ready for transplant.

Tomatoes ready for bigger pots.

I usually gauge transplant time pretty well. I guess weather forecasters aren’t the only ones being thrown off by the moving jet stream and the heating planet. Nonetheless, tomato babies and seedling peppers are up in the basement nursery, too.

Here’s hoping I get the start of Summer a bit better than I did Spring!  Happy gardening everyone!

 

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Organic Garden in June in PA

Today I just want to share some of the glorious pictures from my garden which has finally decided to grab on and grow!

First the Montmorency cherries! I picked 12.5 quarts and my friend Julie got a little over 12 quarts too.

Sour cherries ripe and ready to be picked.

Sour cherries covering the branches of my trees.

Right now, just about the same amount of cherries still on the branches of my two trees.

Sour cherries on my fruit trees.

The sour cherry trees are full of cherries this year, probably 40 to 45 quarts.

I have 2 gallons of cherry brandy “cooking” in the closet.  Love making brandy because you don’t have to pit the cherries – just dump them into the pot and boil them up with vodka and brandy.

I also have half a gallon of dried cherries in my refrigerator.  I used my Excalibur  one of the best food dehydrators on the market — to dry 7 trays of them — pitted of course – and will use them in scones (great with organic chocolate chunks) and in my Quinoa Butternut and Dried Cherry Salad with Goat Cheese!

And I still have enough cherries to make 2 batches of Sour Cherry jam – absolutely fabulous on biscuits or cornbread.

My lettuce is about done but I still have some of my favorite – red butterhead.

Red Butterhead lettuce ready for harvest.

Red Butterhead lettuce makes a soft, beautiful head that’s perfect for salads.

This head is just right for the picking.  The head it forms is loose but can be harvested whole so you can core it, plate it and serve it just like it looks in this picture.

Or you can cut it in half and serve it like a wedge or just cut it up and serve it in a mixed green salad.  My favorite and worth growing because it is no work at all.

If you have planted lettuce and it bolts, as mine is

Lettuce bolting.

Lettuce bolts quickly when temperatures rise.

doing, you might want to leave a few heads in the ground to set seeds.  Some people don’t like the way bolted lettuce looks but I think it’s pretty.

I let 2 or 3 plants of every variety bolt then collect the seeds and use them for fall plantings and next year’s garden.

Each plants gives you hundreds of seeds and they are so easy to save that I almost never have to buy lettuce seeds

I could go on and on about all of my plants like the yellow squash plants you see here.

Healthy yellow squash plant.

This yellow squash doesn’t have a stem; it has a trunk!

Yellow squash growing.

The first yellow squash on this impressive plant.

Or the pole beans that are climbing up the  fence.

And the Bumble Beans just setting their beautiful deep lavender flowers.

So, instead, I will leave you with pictures that speak a 1000 words….about this year’s beautiful garden.

Thornless blackberries

Thornless blackberries

Blackberries setting on the bush.

Blackberries setting on the bush.

Sour cherries

Sour cherries

Doyle Thornless blackberries are healthy and strong and setting an enormous number of blossoms which will lead to an enormous amount of  fruit for brandy and jam.

Blueberries ripening

Blueberries ripening

Eggplant

Eggplant taking hold

Bumble bean flowers on the vine.

Bumble bean flowers

 

2015 Organic Garden in the Ground!

I got all of my plants in the ground – wrapping up planting today.  All organic seed, all raised by me in my basement and all hand-planted.

Granted, the garden doesn’t look like much right now but give it a few weeks and the size and shape of every plant will change as they fill in their spaces!

My garden is all planted.

All my plants are in the garden and ready to grow.

Here’s the inventory!  And, instead of talking about them, here are pictures of the newly transplanted, beautiful babies.

Eggplant baby.

Eggplant transplant just in the ground.

I put in 4 different types of tomatoes – 12 plants – Golden Slicer, Fir, Fox Cherry & San Marzano

Sweet Italian Peppers – 14 plants

Organic Italian sweet peppers

Inverted tomato cages help support my Italian sweet pepper plants.

Eggplants – 5 plants – Dusky and Melanzana Prosperosa

Zukes – 3 plants – saved seeds from last year’s Italian Zuchetta

Cukes – Saber F1 from Seeds of Change and Cetriolo from Grow Italian.

Kale – 10 plants – Curly, Russian, Dino & some unknowns from Adaptiv Seeds

Beets – lots and lots of plants – Cylindra and Early Wonder

Lettuce – Butterhead, Red Oak & a mix of saved seeds from last year and

Organic red leaf lettuce

Organic red leaf lettuce grows quickly and tastes sweet by itself or in salads.

Onions – 100 plants which I did not raise. I got these from an Amish friend.

Oh, and my thornless blackberries are growing and greening up!  And right below them, my gorgeous blueberries are covered with flowers.  Planted once, harvest every year for 20 years+ – organic gardening really is easy!

Thornless blackberries

My Doyle thornless blackberry bushes getting ready for summer.

Blueberry bushes laden with flowers.

Every flower on every blueberry bush becomes a blueberry — 60 quarts every summer.

Growing Season Begins! Tips for Getting Ready

It’s time!

The weather is relenting; the cold retreating.  Birds are singing and trees are putting on their Spring buds.  It’s gardening season and I have some tips for you on how to make the most of the next two months.

Outside, it’s cool weather crop planting time in Zone 6A or 6B or whatever USDA is calling it now.  For me, that means putting in lettuce seeds in the old truck bed and sowing beet seeds.  I’ll keep both watered by hand (a hose would still freeze solid) for the next 2 to 3 weeks while their hard hulls soften, crack and start to reach for the sun.

Inside, I’ve transplanted the baby kale to small pots and given them a quick feed. IMG_2189They’ve been moved out of the basement to join the lettuce I started inside and I’m now hardening them off.  Both are starting to go outside for quick visits with the sun and the wind.

Meanwhile, back in the basement, the tomato and pepper seeds I started in cells just got transplanted into cow pots (which I got online at a great price).

Seedling tomatoes and sweet peppers

Transplanted tomatoes will live in the basement until early May.

Sweet Italian Pepper Transplants

These babies will stay in the basement, growing, being fanned and fed, until the first week of May when they will take their place in my office and begin their hardening off process.

NOTE:  I used to harden plants off haphazardly.  Dangerous! The seedlings you worked and worried over will quickly die if they are not properly introduced to the great outdoors – an hour a day for 2 days, 2 to 3 hours a day for 2 to 3 days, 8 hours a day for 3 days and only then (and only if it’s not hailing or very windy) do they get their first overnight!

DOUBLE NOTE:  I also used to hurry and plant my babies by May 7th or 8th. Frequently, the ground was too cold for warm weather crops like tomatoes and peppers and they simply stopped growing for a couple of weeks (or forever in some cases).  Putting plants in the ground too early can be deadly so give the soil a chance to warm while you get your plants ready for the great outdoors.

If you don’t want to start bedding plants from seed and you happen to live in Amish country or near some old, established nurseries, go check out their plants. Maple Shade Nursery in Kirkwood, PA is Amish run and you can watch the women tease baby plants apart and re-pot them right at the register.

In the Spring, I can get an early fix just by visiting and strolling through their greenhouses.   I supplement my seedlings with theirs and I buy herb plants from them like my Bay “bush”.

Bay plant, bay leaves, Amish nursery

“Bayby” is a bay plant I picked up at an Amish nursery 5 years ago.

“Bay-by” was in a 3 inch pot when I bought her but now, 5 years later, she graces my desk with her splendid inch wide trunk, stands a foot high and provides me with fresh, tasty bay leaves for my soups and stews.

I simply bring her in during the winter then set her out on the patio for late Spring, Summer and early Fall.

FYI – the reason I avoid big box stores when it comes to getting bedding plants is because I have NO idea where the seed came from (I want organic and no GMO) or what they’ve been fed.

Want to learn more about organic gardening?  Want to see just how easy it is to grow your own, healthy and organic food.  Take a look at my Kindle book – Grow So Easy; Organic Gardening for the Rest of Us.