I’ve been contemplating the right time to have my first home grown salad, but I didn’t want to harvest the leaves before my lettuce and chard plants got a good start. They have been growing very well under the protective shield of chicken wire. The other day I decided that it was time to weed them, and so I removed the wire and cleared out all of the unwanted plants. I then replaced the cover of wire and left with an expectation of a fresh salad in a day or two.
So much for a day or two. When I replaced the protective wire, I accidentally left a small hole, and an animal of some sort took that opportunity as an invitation for a gourmet salad lunch. This is the row containing a mix of lettuces, mesclun and chard, in other words a veritable all you can eat buffet for a opportunistic critter. I was angry for a minute, until I had an idea for a counter threat to these critters. My mother had inherited a dog when my brother moved, and it was more of a burden then a companion. I drove to her house and asked to take her problem away to fix my own. This would work out well for us both, and the pup was soon in the passenger side seat of my car en route to the garden.
Harmony looked very confused when I brought her to her new home next to the garden, but after a few hours she went right to work. I hear this little puppy guarding the perimeter from her post by the greenhouse, and rather then keep me awake at night, it brings a smile to this gardeners face as I sleep easy knowing all of the work I’ve invested is now guarded by a trigger happy barking machine. Just her smell alone should keep most critters away. She’ll be earning a fare wage too, room, board, and a special meal from time to time if her barks keep out the critters.
On Tuesday I started planting Tomatoes, so by Thursday I decided it was time to switch gears to direct seeded plants. I started with some Lettuce, then Purple Kohlrabi, two flavors of Mesclun then I finished up with some Green Beans. I’ve been trying to pace myself so that I’m not too warn out for working the next day, and I now have 9 whole days to finish the rest of the planting before going back to work. You heard it right, this IT guy is going into full farming mode for over a week !
Here are the seed packets for the items I’ve planted as seeds.
When I was planning what to plant the other day I couldn’t find the Kohlrabi seeds I ordered, so I went to Home Depot to find some. Their seed selection was still pretty healthy, but there was only purple Kohlrabi available, so I bought three packets. When I finished planting that day, I found the original white kohlrabi seeds.
The table under the seed packets is a side project I’ve been constructing from locally grown/harvested rough cut lumber. You may notice the pattern at the bottom that was left by the sawmill when the giant blade cut this tree into slices. I decided to leave these lines slightly visible to give the piece some additional character. When it came time for staining it, I used a combination of Oak and Birch stains, which have turned out beautifully. I’d really love to be a full time farmer / furniture builder some day.
I’ve finally gotten my Goji berry plants, but I must admit I’m kinda upset with them. These tiny plants cost me $12 plus shipping and handling. I’ve always been one to hold my tongue and not complain, but that is quickly changing. I’m realizing that when things are unfair, light must be cast upon the shadows. I’m planning on calling the company in question and asking if my generously filled out order forms do not merit 5 living plants.
On a more positive note, my Rock Garden is starting to come together nicely. Most of the larger stones were in place when I started this project, and I’ve fitted the smaller rocks around them to build a set of steps. I’ve worked this area as an artist would swirl paint on a canvas, letting the end result be more of a product of the initial state, rather then my own will. I guess it would be simpler to say I’m building around what I’ve been given, and not forcing the project to a particular design.
After constructing the steps, I moved many of the larger stones in the foreground to build a planting area for my herbs. I have Basil, Parsley, Sage and Chives planted here. Behind the apple tree trunk shown, I hope to construct another planting area. Here I would like to place some of the wild Spearmint plants that grow all around the farm.
Last years lettuce was off to a great start, until the rest of the work of the season kicked in, and weeds grew over the plants to the point were they were all but smothered. This year, I’ve decided to take my lettuce much more seriously. I’ve selected a diverse set of lettuces, mesclun and chard to make a very colorful, flavorful and nutritious salad, so when it came to actually choosing which type of lettuce to plant first, I was a bit torn. I was unsure when I would get time to plant more, so I did the only logical thing I could think of: I planted a row of Lettuce, Mesclun & Chard all mixed up.
You can see two types of Lettuce (middle and far bottom), Mesclun (top), and red Chard (middle bottom). This arrangement should come in handy if I find myself with time to only weed one row of lettuce. I can then weed the mix of lettuce row and be assured lots of salad.
I could have planted all of the above lettuce and mesclun seeds directly in the ground provided the rain would stop, and give me a chance to work the soil. I’ll move these cups outside once the climate snaps back and the sun emerges from it’s spring slumber. I’m trying some new greens with the “Zesty” mesclun, and growing more of my favorite greens, classic and colorful mesclun and lettuce.
Here’s how my “Brandywine” Tomatoes are looking…. I started a bit later then last year, and moved them out to the greenhouse earlier. I’m on my third bottle of propane this year, compared to a single bottle last year. I’m still hopeful that these late starting plants will out-grow last years, and their growth seems to re-affirm that hope, but only time will tell.