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!

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Mesclun

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:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

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:

http://www.calpoison.org/hcp/KNOW%20YOUR%20PLANTS-plant%20list%20for%20CPCS%2009B.pdf

 

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.

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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!

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