Partly Red Lettuce, Unknown But Cherished

It’s bound to happen (and probably not the last). Around 2 weeks after I plant seeds in my raised row bed gardens, I see if they have germinated. If they have not, I make a decision on planting more of those seeds or perhaps plant seeds from an entirely different vegetable or fruit. Well, I no longer have the empty seed packet (likely from seed I’d kept from previous years), but I now have a few of these rather strikingly lovely partly red lettuces. A variety of butterhead perhaps?

This year, I’ve had to replant several seeds (birds regularly feed in my garden), so my raised rows may end up with a rather fun and eclectic mix of “Hey, you made it!” and “I was expecting you!” Sounds like a rather interesting party!



After a failed attempt earlier this year, I am pleased that the mesclun seeds that I planted several weeks ago have germinated. This is the first time I’ve attempted to grow mesclun (among other new seeds). I’m taking note of which seeds are likely to successfully germinate into mature crops, the time of year that success happens, etc. Speaking with friends, they’re surprised that the food plants that have succeeded in my area, as well as those that have failed, and vice-versa.  The microclimate of my food garden is always a great classroom for hands-on learning and experience! These young salad greens will (hopefully) make it to my salad bowl before too long.img_1659

Planting the Last Seeds for the Summer Season

I still have some purple bush bean seeds remaining, but I planted the last seeds for the summer season: purple bush beans, summer baby round zucchini, and cantaloupe. The vast majority of these seeds were planted in the chicken-wire protected raised row bed gardens. When there were no more vacancies, I took the chance and dug up any loose soil in my back yard, essentially taking advantage of the tunneling handiwork of gophers of seasons past. If these future seedling are dug up, no problem since I have more than enough crops that will be emerging from my protected garden areas.

It’s good to have things grow in nice, neat rows but it’s kind of great to have plants fight the odds of birds, gophers, and others and still grow their destined crops. So while I’ll have some crop plants “follow the rules” and grow in garden soil from bags purchased at the garden center, I’ll hopefully also have some brave crop plants springing up against my roses and olive, apple, and citrus trees growing in the “native” garden soil – not the usual plant pairings and certainly not following the aesthetic touted by many garden designers but who cares if all plants remain healthy and productive? It will be a great victory.IMG_3256

As shown in the photo, some of the bean plants are in the very back, close to the wall. In front of them, in the same bed garden – just left of center of the photo – is the very tall tomato plant. The moist soil in between my blood orange and 3-in-1 apple trees – that is where I planted some of my cantaloupe seeds. I planted additional bean seeds in the two orange-colored containers behind the blood orange tree. Some of the very small green leaves in the front bed garden are bibb buttercrunch lettuces in development. It’s going to be a food garden bonanza!

I’ve planted many seeds this season and had some seeds that have germinated very easily (e.g, Royal Burgundy bush beans), others have struggled (e.g., cantaloupe). Right now, I have one monster-sized tomato plant – likely beefsteak tomato (“likely” because multiple seed attempts with various tomato varieties in this same space, but just this one very plant took), and it’s fruiting, thankfully. If successful, I’m very likely to be eating and freezing beans for many months. I’m ready and so are my refrigerator and freezer!

In the coming weeks, I’ll be headed back to my local garden center and buying seeds in preparation for the cold months and growing season-appropriate crops. I love the energy of having my various food plants in various stages of maturity.

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE: The non-fruit parts of tomato plants are poisonous if ingested. Also, apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:

Happiness is a Homegrown Salad

It really is as simple as that! After a long afternoon of yard work, I rewarded myself with a delicious salad, freshly picked from my back yard. I removed a few of the outer leaves of a mature buttercrunch lettuce and a small apple from my 3-in-1 apple tree. After washing thoroughly the lettuce , I refrigerated it for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, IMG_3243I washed and roughly sliced up my apple and made a vinaigrette from extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar. I tossed everything together and enjoyed a wonderful salad.

Earlier in the day, I had planted my last packet of buttercrunch lettuce seeds in my raised row bed gardens. I’ve been doing that every few weeks not only to have a steady supply of lettuce but also as insurance in case the previously planted batch did not germinate very well. It is a good and delicious task to grow various crops to discern which ones I actually enjoy eating on a regular basis. I love lettuce and apples!

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE:  Apple seeds are highly toxic if ingested. More information on toxic plants can be found here:


Lettuces in My Raised Row Bed Garden

Lettuces have, at long last, appeared in my raised row bed garden. From seed, I have planted butter crunch and Romaine (aka Parris Island Cos) lettuces. I was off to a slow start in having any crops because, in the early months, my raised row bed garden was besieged by gophers from above ground. I had blocked out their below ground access by laying down chicken wire on top of the bare soil before laying additional heavy layers of wood bark mulch and garden soil on top of that. Chicken wire wrapped around the garden took care of that successfully, I am happy to say.

I had to also adjust my watering schedule. These raised rows dry out more quickly than if they were in containers so I water nearly every day. When this season’s crops are done, I will have to replenish the supply of soil, and I’m contemplating using potting soil instead of garden soil during that time because I have, in the past, found that potting soil to be moister from the bag and retains water better.


Now, I have lettuces that are near-ready for my enjoyment. The large one in the top photo is the butter crunch and the other (two of them!) is the Romaine. Check out their gorgeous leafiness! Within the hour, I have also planted new lettuce seeds to replenish these more mature plants as they are enjoyed.

The initial effort in putting together one of these gardens was significant, it’s true, since I did this by myself. Now that I better understand how these rows behave, I am confident that I will be inundated with lettuces in the coming months. I am very excited to have these modest victories in my garden, so much so that I am thinking about adding more of these raised row gardens in other parts of my back yard – more homegrown crops to enjoy!

Miniature Greenhouse to Start My Fruits and Vegetables

Years ago, I tried starting my fruit and vegetable garden using a plastic miniature greenhouse, without success (failure of seeds to germinate). Thereafter, I planted my seeds directly into the soil outdoors, with variable success. These days, I am more mindful of not wasting resources (including seeds) and thought that the greenhouse idea might be worth revisiting.

Last month, I purchased a miniature greenhouse and I am happy to report that there has been some success in that seedlings have emerged! The only ones that have not yet shown seedlings are the lettuces, but I am hopeful.

I planted my seeds in columns (12). From left to right, here are the plants in my greenhouse: (1) yellow squash, (2) green squash, (3) golden wax beans, (4) tender green beans, (5) Black Krim tomatoes, (6 + 7) Green Zebra tomatoes, (8) long purple eggplant, (9) Black Beauty eggplant, (10) Bibb buttercrunch lettuce, (11) ruby lettuce, and (1) crimson sweet watermelon.

The golden wax beans are growing quite rapidly and actually lifting up the dome. To allow the seedlings that are developing more slowly a chance to benefit from the warmth of the greenhouse, I decided to transplant the golden wax bean seedlings directly into the soil outside.

I am very excited about the possibility of having a nice bounty of delicious homegrown produce this year!

HOW TO: I purchased a Jiffy greenhouse that came with 72 peat pellets. (about $7 – Jiffy also makes smaller greenhouses). The dried peat pellets (disks) that are activated (expanded and softened) with warm water. I drained off excess water.  After several minutes, I loosened up the soil in each planted 2-3 seeds per pellet. It took a little bit of time, but simple to do.

After I finished planting the seeds in each peat pellet, I covered the pellet tray with a dome (included in the kit). I placed the greenhouse in my living room, behind the glass of the patio door, to allow for indirect sunlight.

Seedlings started to emerge after 1 week, but many more at the end of the second week. The ones that are developing the fastest, the golden wax beans, were transplanted outdoors today, directly into the soil.

When the other seedlings are more mature, I will transplant them directly into the soil outside as well (after thinning out the seedlings that appear weak by pulling them out of the peat pellet).

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE: The non-fruit parts of tomato plants are poisonous if ingested.  More information on toxic plants can be found here:

Red Leaf Lettuce, Bolting

This red leaf lettuce has bolted, meaning that the seed stalk has elongated  and will soon produce flowers. The leaves on bolted lettuce are rendered bitter, so the plant should be discarded. img_1521Lantana are pictured on the right of the lettuce.

For detailed information on lettuce bolting and its prevention, please refer to:

CONSUMER ALERT UPDATE: Lantana is highly poisonous if it is ingested. I’ve gotten a rash after pruning it. Please take care with this plant.  More information on toxic plants can be found here:


Red Leaf Lettuce: Container of Deliciousness!

This will be part of my dinner this evening! It seems like only yesterday when I dropped a few red leaf lettuce seedsimg_1501 into a 5-gallon container. What is especially impressive is in that there are 3 heads of lettuce in that one container, yes, 3! Now that is a great use of limited space!
A few other lettuce varieties are showing signs of life in a few of my other containers.  This is a lovely example of how you do not need to have a plot of land or a lot of space to get some really wonderful homegrown vegetables.

Red leaf lettuce

img_1430If there’s a container, I’m planting seeds! I planted red leaf lettuce seeds in much larger containers, but the few remaining in the packet,  I put into 5-gallon containers. A salad is in my future!

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