A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Lettuce Bed 1 with parsley

The lettuce bed is really looking nice.  The curled parsley is full and fluffy.  The cosmo savoy lettuce (romaine variety, right) towers above the others and is ready for harvesting any day now.  I lost one buttercrunch to a hungry caterpillar.  Unfortunately, I think he ate it off a little too low and it may not grow back.  The hard rain knocked a few leaves loose on the red sail, so I trimmed them off along with several others and made a salad.  I can see why the rain knocked them loose.  The leaves were so soft and tender.  I added just a dash of olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar and it was delightful.  They’ll continue to do well into the cooler parts of fall and through winter.  I’ve got sixteen (er, fifteen) plants above, and another forty or so started elsewhere.  Sometime this week I’ll get another round of seeds going to keep up with a three-week successive planting cycle.  I’m going to continue sowing seeds through March.

Cosmo savoy lettuce, a variety of romaine

 

The first harvest of organic home-grown lettuce. This is the Red Sail variety.

 

One of the buttercrunch variety lettuce - destroyed by a looper.

This is the damage caused by a green looper

 

Red sail after I took a few leaves and enjoyed a nice salad

Red sail lettuce after a contribution to my salad bowl

This is lettuce bed number 2.

The carrot tops are really growing.  Just a couple of weeks ago, I could make out distinct rows and now the tops have all grown together to create this really feathery feeling canopy.    I just had to get down on the “forest floor” – if you will – to take a couple pics.  I’ve got three rows each of Danvers Half Long and Big Top going …

You know, the spinach is proving to be disappointing.  I’ve read that it is slow to start.  It sure has been.  I read that spinach likes rich soil.  I’ve got that.  Plenty of fresh compost, tea, and small additions of worm castings and fish emulsion should be providing everything they need.  I read that a sulfur deficiency might cause them to be stunted.  So I mixed up some epsom salts and added it to some rainwater a couple of weeks ago.  Since then, I’ve notice an improvement, but nothing significant.   The unused beds on the other side of the house show promise.  I have five going there, and another dozen in the ground waiting to germinate.  Up until now, all the spinach I’ve tried growing has been germinated inside and transplanted.  Perhaps this is the problem.  From my experience with this batch of seeds, I’m betting about a 60 percent germination rate, so I hope to increase this by direct sowing.  Who knows.  I’m still so new to this, every day is an experiment.

This is the first spinach bed. They are struggling...

This is the second spinach bed.

Up close of one of the lil' spinach plants in the second bed.

The broccoli bed is doing good, but I’m afraid they won’t produce.  While the leaves are hardy the flower is not and the flower is what I’m after.  The first frost didn’t really hit us yet, but if it starts flowering I don’t think it will have enough time to form the nice stalk and head that I hoped for.  I knew this was likely to happen.  When I planted the seeds at the end of August, first of September, I thought I was right on schedule.  But, as I read more, I should have had transplants in the ground by that time.   So, I probably cost myself a harvest by thirty days or so.  Live and learn.  I’ll be starting seeds in January for late February transplanting and that should give me enough time for a spring harvest.

Nonetheless, here is the broccoli bed

In the corner of the yard is an experiment in how prolific mint plants are.  These started off as cuttings.  I’ve since buried several sections of peppermint as well as the spearmint.  Some of them have already popped up, but I’ll also add a nice peppermint clone to the lot of them.  I just need to take the time to do that.  Maybe the weather will be more agreeable tomorrow.

The peppermint and spearmint continue to spread

peppermint clone

I’ve got thirty bell pepper growing right now, all at different stages.  This one is almost at the end of the line, ready for us to enjoy in a nice stir-fry.  Meanwhile, I still have only one jalapeno!   For Spring, I’ve ordered some Cali Wonder orange bells and some ring-o-fire cayenne pepper seeds.  If need be, I’ll take my jalapenos inside and continue growing them for a couple of months until spring.  They should be nice, big plants by then – and hopefully a lot more productive.

This bell pepper is almost done. Just a little more green yet on the bottom ...

The beans are another one that I’ve struggled with.  I think this is because I didn’t opt to inoculate the seeds – something recommended for legumes, especially if growing them in a section of soil for the first time.  The transplants I added later did much better.  I grew them from seed in Jiffy Mix, which seems to have aided their growth – along with the compost tea.  The picture below is of one of the bean transplants, which is going to produce a couple of handfuls of beans from the looks of it.  I harvested another handful of beans, which I blanched, cooled quickly and stuck in the freezer.  I have enough for a couple of servings right now, but I’d like to harvest more and save them for later use.

more beans, almost ready to harvest

The last thing I’d like to note is the progress in the wildflower bed.  I’ve since edged it with rock to keep the grass from spreading into the bed and to keep the lawnmower out.  I can see a handful of different varieties at this stage, but I can’t really tell you what is what yet.

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