Salad greens are one of the first crops that I start outdoors. It snowed today, but as soon as the soil is workable, I will be out there, seeds in hand, to get started. As with Seed Starting 101, I have created a permanent page that lists all of the best posts around the subject of growing (and eating) lettuce and salad greens. If you come back looking for it in the future, you will find it over here on the Resources page (link in the top bar).
The photo (above) depicts a winter salad mix that I grew in a big washbasin the last two years. It includes a really pretty burgundy mizuna variety called ‘Red Frills.’
We’re hitting that magical time of the season when a growing portion of our meals are gleaned from the garden. I enjoy moving around the space, snipping bits of this and that from here and there. I have edibles tucked in everywhere. There are lettuce seedlings in every bed, except the dry one. They would not fair well there.
Yesterday’s lunch, a simple salad (Except the eggs. No chickens here. Le sigh. Oh, and the cheese.) came from the garden.
Here’s my process:
- Photo Top Left: ‘Four Seasons’ lettuce. This is the same lettuce that miraculously overwintered. I dug up the seedlings and planted them here and there.
- Photo Top Right: Harvesting assorted edible greens. These include: Two types of spinach, bloody dock, chive flowers, viola flowers, French Sorrel, pea shoots, curly parsley, violet leaves, another type of lettuce (I forget), curly cress, ‘Green Wave’ mustard, mizuna, ‘Red Frills’ mizuna, spring onion, lemon balm, mint, and borage seedlings. These are just a few examples of salad fixins you can grow.
- Photo Bottom Left: Easy dressing done right in the bowl. Just add your greens and toss. Olive oil, a dash of Balsamic vinegar, grated Parmesan cheese, chopped chive blossoms and parsley.
- Photo Bottom Right: And eat. With boiled eggs and asparagus. Enjoyed with a kefir milk smoothie.
Imagine my surprise when I pulled back the row cover at the back of my garden and found this pot full of living ‘Four Seasons’ lettuce that I had planted last fall and forgot about. It survived the winter!
I love these little mistakes that result in new discoveries. Yes, our winter was much milder than usual, but in the years that I’ve been growing the ‘Four Seasons’ variety, I had not expected it to live up to its name in my climate.
The container (an old bread box I inherited from Davin’s grandmother, with holes punched into the bottom) was twice sown last fall due to a squirrel invasion that I did not protect against. I have since transplanted several of these seedlings into raised beds and pots around the garden.
With the garden soil now workable, and unseasonably warm, I have also direct sown several lettuce varieties and greens around the garden. This has me thinking about all of the future salads we will be enjoying soon, making me realize that it was high time to pull together some of the lettuce and greens articles I have written here over the years to get you started on growing your future salads, too.
P.S. This week’s article on HGTV is up. It’s about reusing potting soil. I often use my old potting soil to grow salad greens. However, I am careful to add more nitrogen back into the depleted mix as leafy veggies need nitrogen to thrive.
P.S.S. I have added more ‘Hahms Gelbe Topftomate’ seeds to etsy.
Back in late April I mentioned our plans to become self-sufficient in salad fixings. I said, “Starting next month (or so), I don’t want to buy a single head of lettuce ever again, if I can help it.”
A month or so later and we are on the way. Over the last few weeks we’ve harvested bits and pieces here and there, but today I am harvesting the first two of eight fully formed heads of lettuce from the raised bed that is dedicated to greens. Unfortunately, I can’t take full credit for these plants as I bought them as transplants and did not sow them from seed. We were so behind this year between travel, bad weather, and building the garden that I decided to buy a few to give us a push.
Meanwhile, the recycling bin salad garden is coming along swimmingly. Changing the clamps kept the squirrels out and we haven’t had a problem since. Eventually the greens grew big enough that I was able to remove the chicken wire without any further digging. Unfortunately, I had to resow some seed after the squirrel digging debacle and this resulted in a very tightly sown bin. I’ve been carefully removing seedlings from the bin and transplanting them elsewhere in the garden (as well as pots) to make use of the extra plants and provide some space for those that are still in the bin.
We now have several lettuce plants on the go all around the garden, tucked in underneath and around this and that, as well as in the raised bed. I have also planted several mustard greens and lots of edible flowers throughout.
We are coming into a windfall of salad fixings. For the time being, I’ve bought my last bag of lettuce from the market. I just hope the summer heat doesn’t come on too strong, too quickly!
On the bright side, none of the clothespins had been tampered with. The problem was that I had run out of foraged-from-the yard clothespins and figured I could just tuck the back in against the wall. I’m laughing at myself now as I write this. It’s as if I am new to this here gardening thing and didn’t just spend well over a decade trying to thwart the efforts of squirrels.
Tucking it in against the wall… PLEASE with that lazy, naive ridiculousness.
Lesson learned. Again. I’m now employing buffalo clips to hold down the remaining sides. Take THAT squirrels! I’m an adult human with opposable thumbs and even I have a difficult time operating buffalo clips. I’d like to see them work their way around that business.