A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Posts tagged ‘lettuce’

Spring veggie garden start

As the lettuce continues to mature, the spinach offers yet another harvest, and the broccoli is producing side shoots like crazy, I know the winter garden is almost done.  I still have a few rows of carrots going, and hopefully I can harvest them in another month or so, but I’ve already started switching beds over to the summer garden.  I say summer because Spring lasts all of four weeks here it seems.  I have transplanted zucchini, squash, cucumbers, green beans, and have sowed another round of green beans as well as sunflowers.  My peppers are doing pretty good – I’ve actually had them outside now for the past week, but they are still portable.  I won’t put them into the ground until later this month.  I have to harvest some more lettuce first.  In total, I have four orange bell pepper plants, two jalapeno plants and four cayenne pepper plants.  The pics are small, but you can view them full-size by clicking.

Ring-O-Fire Cayenne and Cal Wonder Orange Bell peppers

Jalapeno plants

Heirloom Yellow Crookneck Squash - second go (last fall was a fail)

Black Beauty Zucchini - Second Go (last fall was a fail) - also pictured: Red Sail lettuce

Straight Eight cucumbers - second go (Last fall was a fail, these look not so good either)

Blue Lake Beans - second crop (last year did good, but planted too late)

Tendergreen green beans - first attempt

Broccoli bed is really full right now

Another view of the broccoli bed

Mammoth sunflowers in the morning shade

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Catch the bolting broccoli before it flowers!

Bolting broccoli

The high temperature yesterday was nearly 80 degrees – a big swing from the low temperature of 42 degrees we enjoyed overnight.  The broccoli plants must have gotten confused and thought it was summer because they spent all their energies stretching their crowns up to the sky!   (Broccoli will bolt when the weather is too warm, which means stretching up towards the sun to begin flowering.)  Fortunately, no flowering occurred, and we harvested and each ate a large portion of broccoli with our dinner last night.   Calabrese broccoli has a very mild flavor, and it was delicious steamed and plain.  I’m not usually one to eat broccoli stalks, but I found myself really enjoying the softer center of the stalk.  I had to stop myself from peeling off the outer skin, reminding myself that it is full of nutrients, too.  I think that when I’m finished harvesting crowns and shoots, I’m definitely going to harvest what I can of the stalks, cut them up and freeze them for broccoli cheese soup later on.   I’m wondering how my two newest broccoli plants will fare after transplanting them.  Will they produce well or simply bolt?  Well, there’s only one sure-fire way to figure that out.  Plant them!

Meanwhile, the spinach plants have really grown in size the past week or so since my last post.  Abundant sunshine mixed with some rain showers here and there works like magic – with the added help of fish emulsion foliage sprays!   I think I’ll make a big salad tonight for the family, mix in some spinach leaves, red sail lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce and cosmo savoy lettuce.  If we still have our homegrown carrots left, I also like to shred carrots on my salad.   Using ingredients I have at home (Bragg’s Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, organic extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, ground savory, and dried fennel), I can add homegrown dried thyme, lavender, rosemary, sage, oregano,oram and basil to make a nice Herbs de Provence salad dressing to top it off.  Nothing fancy to the herb recipe, just a couple tablespoons of each, mixed together well.   (Incidentally, this is also a great marinade for chicken.)

I harvested three heads of lettuce yesterday because I have so many maturing at the same time.  I washed and spun the leaves and brought a full grocery sack up to work for my colleagues to enjoy.  Looks like over half the bag is eaten!  There are a couple other gardeners here who like to share their bounty with the rest of us, so it’s nice to be able to have enough to share as well.    I’ll probably need to cut down a couple more heads and run them over to my mother-in-law’s house this weekend.  Don’t want good lettuce to go to waste!

Broccoli bed after harvesting

More broccoli crowns forming

Look what’s coming up!

Many of the seedlings have emerged and are reaching towards that yellow ball of fire in the sky.  What a miracle it is – every time – to see fresh new life emerge from a dry seed.  Look at what’s coming up:

Zucchini sprouts - Black Beauty variety

Cucumber sprouts - Straight Eight variety

Danvers Half-Long carrot sprouts - the first of many

An eager sunflower wearing a helmet?

More sunflower sprouts

Squash sprouting - heirloom Yellow Crookneck variety. Looks like a lima bean.

In addition to the new seedlings, there is exciting new life in the garden as well. Dry, withered chive leaves have given room to explosive new shoots.  Prostrate rosemary offers up a delicate flower for Spring.  Dry thyme branches burst forth with green growth.  Oregano continues its crawl without missing a beat.  Broccoli ready for harvest.  Wildflowers preparing their colorful flowers with a fluffy mass of greens.  Lettuce heads crowding together in the dappled light of an old fence.  Crinkly spinach leaves unfurling.   Yes, Spring is definitely in the air!

Broccoli crown before harvesting

A view of the densely populated wildflower bed

New chives growing

First rosemary flower

Spinach bed 1

Beautiful Red Sail lettuce

Spectacular spreading spearmint!

Lettuce bed with new transplants and sprouts

Another view of the wildflower bed

Spinach bed 2

Broccoli bed (after harvesting first crown)

Lots-o-Lettuce!

The marjoram is doing well

New thyme growth

Probably the next crown to be harvested

Lettuce bed 2, also with new transplants

And, last but not least, some of the plants awaiting transplanting inside under lights:

Mexican Mint Marigolds

Ring-O-Fire Cayenne plants

Cal Wonder Orange Bell Peppers

Spinach (bloomsdale variety), verbena and sweet alyssum (back)

Broccoli plant - Calabrese variety

Indoor Seed-Sowing for Spring

Saturday was a beautiful day of sunshine.  I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to spend gardening, but I think I made the most of what little time I had.

I pulled up the remaining carrots.  There were slightly more than three dozen, all with varying sizes.   In retrospect, I need to do a better job of thinning the carrots to 2″ apart.  Most of these were just too close together and it limited how big they were able to grow.   They had incredibly long tap roots, but they just didn’t fatten up and fill out like they should have due to space restrictions and probably less available nutrients.  Still, there were several good-sized carrots.   I went ahead and worked the soil well and planted five more rows – three of the Danver’s half-long and two of the Big Top.  (For the record, the three rows closest to the lettuce and marked by wooden sticks are of the Danver’s variety.   Last time I couldn’t remember what was what after they grew!)  In the fall, I think I’ll dedicate the 3’x3′ broccoli bed to carrots.  The broccoli needs to be rotated, and I need more room for carrots.  So far, they seem like an easy crop to grow and, as I’ve mentioned before, they are a common staple at our house.  It makes sense to have a bigger bed that I can successively sow seeds in.

I transplanted about six more lettuce plants and then cut three more heads down for our use this week.   I have another half dozen transplanted into cups, which are growing under lights in the garage.  I’ll pull up the roots of the heads I just harvested, plus I think I currently have space for a couple more in the bed, so that should give me room to transplant the remaining plants.  That will probably conclude my lettuce planting for the year.  Oh, and I still have many sprouts of the organic lettuce blend coming up, which will need to be thinned out after they’re a couple inches tall.  The blanket of snow we received last week did absolutely nothing to the sprouts, luckily.

It was also time to start the rest of the veggies for transplanting at the end of March.  I’m going to try the zucchini, cucumbers and squash again.  Because I had half a pack of seeds of each leftover from fall, I decided to go with the same varieties:  Black Beauty, Straight Eight and heirloom Yellow Crookneck.  I have eight seeds of each sown.   I started eight containers of Tendergreen bush beans, but I also need to do another eight or so Bush Lake Beans here in a couple of days.   To get a jump start on the sunflowers, I started them in large paper pots – I started about half a dozen Russian Mammoth.   These seeds are all sitting in a sunny window covered with plastic until they sprout.  Finally, I sowed about twelve chives.   These need darkness to germinate, so they are sitting in a closet for now.

The cayenne (4) and bell peppers (5) are now 3-4″ tall.  They weren’t growing very fast out in the garage due to the colder temperatures.  I moved them indoors to the sunniest windowsill where it’s at least 65 degrees.  I placed them into a recycled, clear-plastic Baby Spinach tub and then used binder clips to attach another tub on top.  This created a mini-greenhouse.   As it sits in the sun, the entire container warms up and gives the pepper roots the warmth they need to grow.  Since doing this, they’ve grown at least 2″ in the past week!  Mental note: next fall, purchase a couple of heating mats for germination and seedlings.  This will accelerate growth and I’ll have healthier and bigger plants to transplant.

In addition the all of the above, I have a dozen or so Sweet Alyssum, four Mexican Mint Marigold, six Verbena, twelve Black-Eyed Susan (just starting to germinate!), four Calabrese Broccoli and one Bloomsdale Spinach plants growing from seed.

Accumulated Snowfall in Austin Area

Round Rock received a few inches of snow this morning and again this afternoon.  We got off of work early and arrived home just in time to watch some strong flurries of clumps of snowflakes – some measuring a couple inches across!   I’ve not seen snow like this since living in the Midwest.  It’s a shame it will all be melted by tomorrow!

The garden didn’t seem to be minding the snow at all.  I snapped a few pictures.  After all, it’s not every year we get snow in Round Rock!

the main lettuce bed with parsley

carrot greens are weighed down a bit by the snow

I dug out these spinach plants ...

these weren't as covered

but these are barely showing through!

the second lettuce bed

Really, the broccoli seems quite happy with it's frosty blanket

Small triumphs are nourishment for the soul

It looks like the transplants are starting to take off now after a few days – the broccoli all looks to have survived the deeper planting and their stems appear firm.

A little added luck:  the only spinach plant that sprouted, which then got nibbled off by our tubby cat, also looks to have survived.

The lettuce needs to be transplanted from the starter kit, so I’ll do that tomorrow or over the weekend.  Meanwhile, I have lettuce transplants temporarily sitting in plastic cups awaiting to go in my mother-in-law’s garden beds.  I’m surprised at how quickly the lettuce transplants have grown over the past few days.  Although they are the same age as the plants in the starter kit, they’re easily double their size now that they’re in a larger container.  The roots on the lettuce plants still in the starter lit have escaped their cells and are snaking along the mat-wick.  Amazingly, I found roots going through the mat-wick to the reservoir below!  I’d say it’s time to transplant them!   Also germinated are several Verbena, Sweet Alyssum, and Mexican Mint Marigold (left 3 rows of starter kit).  I checked the flat of alyssum plants I had last fall.  It’s been sitting outside.  They’ all seeded and have since re-sprouted, so I gave them a good watering to help them along.

I’m pretty happy with the setup and with the results thus far.  I was worried about the broccoli, but I think it’s going to do just fine if not better now.

Plants and transplants

Transplants with rebounded broccoli

Lettuce transplants awaiting, well - another transplant.

The spinach stands alone - but at least it's still standing!

Lettuce roots

Sunny Sunday in the garden + Macro Monday

How about the wonderful weather in the Austin area this weekend?  The ground was still really wet, but the skies were clear and sunny.  I was actually working in the yard wearing shorts and a tank top!  Until the cold front blew in late yesterday afternoon!

Garden Two-Week Update:

We’ve enjoyed a few harvests over the past couple of weeks, including carrots, spinach and lettuce.  As you can see by the pictures below, we’ve consumed several heads of lettuce.  Yet the weather is still cool, so there’s time to grow more.  I have twelve more seedlings started and I also direct sowed an organic lettuce blend into the main lettuce bed where I’ve harvested the other plants.  We’ll be enjoying lettuce for the next couple of months.   The parsley is just going crazy.  I dropped four plants in last September/October and they flourished in the cold winter weather.  We have more than we use!  It doesn’t make sense to harvest and dry it because it just doesn’t taste the same when it’s dried.   To celebrate Macro Monday, I snapped a close-up of the stems of one of the parsley plants.

Lettuce bed one of two

lettuce bed two

Organic lettuce mix - newly sprouted

Hardening lettuce transplants off for my mother-in-law

Another Macro Monday shot - this time of parsley stems

The carrots are still developing.  I’m waiting for them to get fatter, but without sunlight they grow pretty slow.  We’ve just had so much overcast weather lately.  Still, I like the look of carrot greens.  They look so feathery.  I snapped another macro shot of some emerging leaves.  Because I had extra room in the spinach/carrot bed, I went ahead and sowed three short rows of carrots, two rows of Danver’s and one row of Big Top.

the carrot canopy

For Macro Monday - an emerging carrot leaf

The broccoli is standing tall and growing wide.  Right now we have about six crown forming on the nine plants, with the largest one measuring about 2 inches across.  I wish I knew some incantation to make them grow faster!  Anyway, I have another five broccoli plants started as well.  I should put those in the ground in the next couple of weeks.  I just need to let them develop a little longer and then I can harden them off.  I think this new crop will develop faster – we’ll only be seeing longer days and more sunshine ahead.

the broccoli plants are really growing large

the crown now measuring two inches wide - we have 5 more started

The spinach is looking nice.  Even after taking a couple dozen leaves, they’re filling out and making more!  I have a total of two dozen plants right now at different stages.  I also have one spinach plant growing indoors right now – yes, it appears to have survived getting eaten by the cat!   It’s already past the time to get any more seeds sown until fall, but I should be enjoying spinach for the next month or so at least – and hopefully in increasing abundance!

One of three spinach beds - also newly planted carrots (top right corner)

The herb garden is fairing well.  The sage is definitely looking rough, but that’s because we’ve gotten so much rain and it prefers to be dry.  I got out there and trimmed the curry plants and harvested a lot of marjoram as well.  It had grown so leggy and bushy – I wanted to get back to the compact look it had last summer.  I got an herb-drying rack from my mother-in-law over the holidays, so I put that to use in the back closet.  I’ve got three large handfuls drying and a handful of oregano as well.   I have three thyme plants that I picked up at a discount last fall, too.  I don’t know where I’m going to put them yet.  I want to get a couple of basil plants and several more chives.  Perhaps I can work them into one of the existing beds, or work it into the landscape beds I want to build this Spring…

the herb garden 2.14.10

And I have a feeling the mint will take over this bed by the end of summer!

mounds of mint!

Here’s the corner of the wildflower bed.  It is just teeming with plants!

Wildflower bed, back corner of yard

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