Tag Archives: Lettuce

Beans , Beans Good for Your Heart…

Bean Trellis

Bean Trellis

This has been an odd year for beans, at least in my garden.  The first planting of pole beans evaporated into the ether.  Planting number 2 just sat there during our extended cool spring weather.  They have started growing now but are so far behind other bean plantings at Rock Farm I’m feeling a tad bit jealous.  This past weekend they were finally tall enough for me to string the trellis.  Last year I used some netting that I purchased.  It worked well enough but at the end of the season trying to salvage it was an exercise in futility.  I ended up cutting it out of the dead vines and pitching it.  Not wanting to waste money this year I opted to do the same thing I did with the peas, wrap jute around an upper and lower cross bar, which seems to be working wonderfully in the pea row.  I already had the three vertical poles in the ground, a sturdy bamboo pole flanked by 2 t-bar posts.  I used two 1″ pvc elbows and a t to attach two bamboo poles across the top, end to end.  I ended up driving a short piece of rebar into the end of one and pounding the other onto it.  Its pretty sturdy and has works as a single unit all last year and looks just fine for this year.  Not wanting to buy anything else, I tied two remaining 6′ t-posts to the bottom of the three vertical posts about 2″ off of the ground.  I wrapped jute around the top and bottom posts at about 6″ intervals.  Should work fine and will be so much easier to deal with come fall.

Bush Beans

In other bean news, 1 row Contender, 2 rows Topcrop & 1 row Roma II went in after the garlic, arugula and lettuce came out.  The garlic wasn’t as large this year, possibly due to the extended cool spring even though the number of days in the ground was the same as last year.  Last spring seemed a lot warmer.  The tops were dying back and I needed the space so out they went.  The Inchelium was spectacularly unimpressive.  Half of them didn’t make it to spring and the other half were very small. I know they are typically smaller but these seemed reeeally small.  The Lorz Italian had respectable sized heads and all made it through the winter.  I have no experience with either of these varieties so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The Silverwhite and Turkish Giant, were a decent size but smaller than last year save one or two heads most, if not all made it through.

Garden in late June

Lettuce

Speaking of lettuce, I finally emptied the bed of Renee’s cutting lettuce blend.  Can’t remember the exact name right now but it lasted much long than I thought it would.  Even as the stems were elongating to form seed the lettuce wasn’t bitter. I ended up removing a lovage transplant that was taking up way too much room.  I also beat back the arugula and reclaimed the area for a row of the beans.

Potatoes

The potatoes are taking over the county. I’m really hoping there are actual potatoes under all of that green. I ended up having to run some stakes and jute to corral them, they were headed for the neighboring plot. I ended up having to snip back a couple of stems as the beets were complaining.

Garden Flowers

The ‘Persian Carpet’ zinnias are blooming and I clipped a few for the little multi-holed ceramic vase we picked up from a pottery shop during a recent trip to Orcas Is. The reds, yellows and oranges against the blue of the vase is striking. The dahlia’s I planted in the garden next to the potatoes are going to bloom any day now.

Balcony Garden

The parsley was sending up a flower stalk so it was time to harvest. My haul was pretty respectable given that it was growing in a 6″ clay pot. The oregano was staring to outgrow its clay pot so I cut it back too. It is on my replant list. I cut back a lemon verbena a week or two ago. I had read that lemon verbena can be used to make a lemony pesto. WRONG! While it is physically possible to do so, the result was nothing that I would ever eat voluntarily. Now I just have to decide whether or not I want to take up previous real estate and keep the plant or let it go. I’m leaning toward the latter.

In the spirit of spiffying up the balcony, I attempted to transplant one of the volunteer nasturtiums from the garden into one of the long planters that sit on the railing. It had been filled with pansies but they were looking pretty sad. The transplanting was a baaad idea. I ended up having to take so much off of the top to compensate for the pitiful roots that I was left with a bunch of empty stems. The good news is that it does seem to be sending out new shoots at some of the leaf nodes so all is not lost.

Visitors

Slug - Arion rufus
I ran across an ‘Arion rufus’ or Red Slug under the nasturtiums. This one isn’t native and is quite destructive in the garden. I found the darker Arion a couple of times in the past but this was the first time I’ve seen one this color. Googling it was at first unclear if this was actually a red form of ‘Arion ater’ but further reading led me to believe it was more likely A. rufus. In either case its time in the garden is past.

Harvests

  • Beets – Red Baron Dutch (6/20)
  • Chard (ongoing)
  • Garlic (6/21 thru 6/25)
  • Lettuce (6/25 final)
  • Kale (ongoing)
  • Oregano (ongoing)
  • Parsley (6/25 final)
  • Snow Peas (ongoing)
  • Zinnias (6/25)

Plantings

  • Beets – Cylindrical (6/25)
  • Beans, Bush – Contender, Roma II & Topcrop (6/25)

Mini Greenhouse: Using Roofing Panels to Warm the Soil

Using Fiberglass Roofing Panels to Create a Mini Greenhouse, Extend the Season or Warm the Soil

A few weeks back we had a spell of warmer weather and I waited till the end of it to attempt a sowing of pole beans. A couple weeks after the fact I decided to look for the seed as nothing was coming up. I dug around and found…nothing. The soil didn’t look disturbed so I’m not thinking it was birds. I’m guessing it was just too cool and wet and the seed rotted. When the weather gods predicted another bout of warm weather I was on it. It occurred to me that I could possibly get a jump on sowing if I could warm the soil. Remembering a mini greenhouse I used in gardens past I made a trip to the lumber yard and came home with an 8′ long roofing panel. Once upon a time these used to be made out of fiberglass and perhaps you can still find them but any I’ve found locally have been PVC or ‘polycarbonate’. I’m hoping they will work as well (and last as long) as the fiberglass panels used to. I’ve used them to extend either end of the growing season when just a few degrees can make all the difference. My hope in using them this time is that they will help to warm the soil a few degrees so that the bush beans I plan to plant there will have a better shot at germinating should the weather cool again (a very real possibility around here).

Shopping List

  • 1 clear or semi clear roofing panel. 26″ wide and the length of your choice. Mine was 8′ long
  • 4 1″x2″x16″ stakes per panel
  • length of wire or twine to secure the panel

Preparation and Installation

  1. Cut a 1/4″ notch into each of the stakes, a few inches from the top. This will insure that the wire or twine stays put. I cut my panel into 2 4′ sections but they can also be left whole.
  2. Once you decide where you want your panel to sit, drive two of the stakes into the ground approximately 6-12″ in from each end of one side of the panel.
    Drive two more stakes in 12″ from the first two. If two panels are being installed next to each other you can use 2 less stakes as the middle stakes can secure both panels (see image).
  3. Gently fold the panel into an upside down U shape and set it between the two stakes.
  4. Tie string or wire, crossing over the panels. Thats all there is to it!

Garden Happenings

Harvest

2 large bags filled with lettuce, kale and spinach
The Palco spinach is showing signs that it is about to bolt which necessitated harvesting that 1′ wide bed. Since I wanted the space on either side of it I decided to harvest one of the beds of the Mild Mesclun mix that was ready. I also harvested the rest of the red and butter lettuce from the bed next to the peas. I ended up with two large bags of green goodness, one filled with lettuce and the other with spinach and kale. Way more than we will ever eat I decided to fill some 1 gallon bags for the local food bank. I ended up getting 8 1 gallon bags in total. 3 spinach, 2 kale and 4 lettuce. 8 to go to Helpline and 1 bag of spinach for us.

Sowing

It may be too warm but I sowed two short rows of Renee’s Farmer’s Market Blend lettuce in the shade of the peas.

On the balcony I started a pot of SMR-58 cukes, Astia zucchini and another attempt at “Italian Pesto basil. ALL of the batch I started inside this spring ended up dying. Not sure if it was a rot or ? Need to investigate that.

Lettuce Alone

Last night when I stopped by the garden I decided to sample all of the different varieties and take some notes. Our temps in the 50s and 60s have been great for the lettuce. We had about a week or so of fairly warm weather, so much so that I was concerned the lettuce would become bitter. In my experience it doesn’t take much for lettuce to taste bitter. Apparently I have the gene for that. As much as I want to like it, I can’t do beer, all I taste is bitter. I’ve tried every variety that is supposed to be the ‘least bitter’ and really see no difference. Quite often lettuce and kale come across as bitter to me while others eating from the same picking don’t experience it as such.

There were two plantings of lettuce this year, I direct seeded a couple of 1′ wide beds in early March and transplanted some starts from the local garden center in early April. Into the beds went Renee’s “Baby Leaf Blend” and Territorial Seed’s “Mild Mesclun Blend”. The transplants were a of several varieties, unfortunately some not well labeled. I was Jones’n and it was what they had at the time so I gave it a shot. Once again I was reminded that I really gain nothing by planting lettuce transplants. The directed seeded lettuce almost always seems to catch up to the transplants by the time harvest comes around. This year was no exception. I think part of the reason I still do the transplants is that I am so longing to see SOMETHING growing in the early Spring that the transplants seem like an easy fix.

Lettuce Taste Test Results

Variety Transplant(T) or
Direct Seeded(S)
Planting Date Bitterness
Unk Oakleaf T 4/10/2016
Speckled Amish T 4/10/2016
Slobolt from Territorial’s Mild Mesclun Blend S 3/5/2016
Renee’s Baby Leaf Blend S 3/5/2016 – to +
Butter Bib T 4/10/2016 – to +
Grandpa Admires Heirloom Butterhead T 4/10/2016 +
Red Sails from Territorial’s Mild Mesclun Blend S 3/5/2016 ++
Unk Red Leaf T 4/10/2016 +++

The varieties are graded on level of bitterness to my taste with +++ being most bitter and – – – being the sweetest. Note that in this test, even the most bitter of the bunch is fine when mixed with other greens in a salad. It just doesn’t’ taste great to me by itself.

Lessons Learned

There is really no reason to start lettuce early or buy transplants. Other than the satisfaction of seeing something growing in the bare ground of early Spring, direct seeding lettuce results in a nearly equal first harvest date.

I tend to prefer the oakleaf varieties of the type I tried this year, one as a transplant of an unk variety and one in the Renee’s lettuce mix. Even though Renee’s ended up with a range of tastes from slightly bitter to not, the variety of tastes, shapes and colors made it my favorite overall. I was also very fond of Speckled Amish and Butter Bib. All in all this has been a great year for lettuce.

Long Division and the Great Potato Experiment of 2016

My garden is exactly 10’x20′ in size, 2 plots in the local community garden.  Each bed in  the garden is about 10’x50′-60′ (Can’t remember which it is now but you get the idea.) and contains 5 or 6 10′ long plots.  The long sides of most of the beds are walled in with 2″x12″ boards and the ends are open.  My 10×20 is a fraction of the approx 40’x60′ garden I left in Southern Kentucky but plenty for my wants, needs and amount of free time.  The small size means every square inch counts and that I have to be selective about who gets a spot to put down roots.  Each individual gardener has the ability to amend our spots to our hearts content and as such, some plots end up being taller than the plot next door. This means that 6-8″ on the end of the taller plot is pretty much unusable as water just runs off to the lower beds.  This happens again at the end of the bed where my plot is. This year some of the gardeners have added divider boards and end boards to their plots.  By capping it off on either end that last 6-8″ is usable.  Anita was nice enough to pick up a couple of boards for me as our car is too small to carry much of anything over 6′ long.  It was raining when I arrived at the garden this morning.  Not a hard rain but the gentle rain so common in our area.  Historically I would not garden in the rain but I only get two days off every week and I have to take the time I get.  It didn’t take long to trench out the area for the boards using the narrow hoe.  After all was said and done I figure I’ve gained about 10 square feet at 6″ x 10′ x 2 sides.   I pulled some of the volunteer nasturtiums that were growing in the walkway and tucked them in along the inside of the middle board.  They will look nice spilling over the board later this summer.

The potatoes I planted 41 days ago in 8″ deep trenches are looking AWESOME! The trenches have been filled as the plants grew and they are looking very lush. That being said, if I had it to do over I would have planted them in large containers like the guy over at the Allotment Diary in the UK.  I stumbled upon his video about growing potatoes in containers and will definitely go that route next year if I grow them again. The growing part isn’t what makes containers great, it is the harvesting part. From what I’ve read and been told, harvesting potatoes without cutting into some of them and/or leaving some behind to sprout next year is problematic.  Dan, Mr Allotment Gardener, plants potatoes deep in containers, the way I did in the trenches, filling with compost as they grow. The containers are partially buried in the garden early on so the roots can grow though into the soil below for nutrients and moisture leaving the potatoes to develop in the containers.  Harvesting consists of dumping the entire container onto a tarp and fishing out the little bundles of starchy goodness.  His most recent video shows him harvesting new potatoes from plants in small pots he started 2 months ago. A much easier task when they are grown in containers. If you have any interest in potato growing check him out. I think the environment in his part of the UK is similar to ours here in the PNW.

greens

In other happenings, The lettuce is LOVING the wet and cool weather we have been having. Today after getting the boards in, I harvested red, green and oak leaf lettuce as well as a mess of some mixed kale like greens. The Palco spinach is ready to go but my bag was full. Perhaps tomorrow. Again this year I was reminded that there is really not much to gain by using lettuce transplants. The beds I direct seeded have caught up to the bed with the transplants. I should save my money but I get so impatient in the early spring and want to se SOMETHING green. I had planned to seed some zucchini this weekend but not sure it will like the 50+ degree days we’ve been having. I suppose I could start it under lights inside. There isn’t much of a rush though as I’m not really sure where I’ll stick it yet. I had originally thought it would go where the kale was but I put the chard there. Decisions…decisions.

Spring has Sprung

Last year was so hot, watering was pretty much a daily event in the raised beds and Rockfarm. This year many of us are adding some peat moss in hopes of a bit more water retention on those hot days. Hopefully it won’t retain too much water if we have a wetter growing season.

Impatient for some lettuce, I picked up a couple of packs of lettuce from the local garden supply. I opted for a variety of red, green and speckeled. In addition to the lettuce I picked up a 4″ pot of Sorrell. It has a nice lemony flavor and the young leaves are a great addition to salad. Its a perennial so it will be around for some time…I hope.

A half row of peas went in on the end where the garlic was last year. Some folks are adding boards at the end of their plots to hold the soil in. I think I will too.

The spinach I planted last month doesn’t seem to be doing much so I put in another 1’x5′ section of Palco. This variety didn’t bolt as soon as bloomsdale did last year. The leaves are larger and paler than Bloomsdale. They stay tender and tasty even when they get large.

Potatoes were never something I could grow in Kentucky without using boatloads of poison. The colorado potato beetle decimated the crop both years I attempted to grow them. I even tried the Bt that was supposed to work on CPB to no avail. Now this was a number of years back so perhaps things have improved since then. Here at Rockfarm in WA the potatoes I’ve seen growing seem to be doing fabulous so I thought I’d give them another shot. I opted for some Russian Banana fingerling potatoes. I decided to dig a couple of ditches, plant them deep and replace the soil from the trench as they grow. Since potatoes are formed along the stems planting them deep is the way to go.

I ended up pulling the Roquette. It was too bitter for my liking. As with the greens from last year I dug it into the soil and will plant over it later.

The cutting lettuce and mesclun blend I planted last month are coming up nicely. We had a couple of hard rains not long after I seeded the two 1’x5′ beds and I was worried the seed would all be washed to one side of the bed. It appears there was a little condensing of the bed but not too much.

The overwintering kale has shot up and will be ready for a picking soon. This year I want to get it out sooner. Last year I let it go to flower in hopes of getting more leaves and all I ended up with was more flowers. :-/

As expected the Arugula has made itself at home. The few plants I put in the ground last year has reseeded into a thick mat of seedlings. I’ll have quite a harvest in the coming weeks.

Cleanup

Today saw the bulk of the cleanup for this year. The zucchini and cucumbers came out as did one of the two half rows of carrots and the hybrid kale+whoknowswhat I planted this Spring. That was a disappointment. The leaves were a bit too thick for my taste and the flavor wasn’t great.

I ended up leaving a a few kale as this will be the last year I’ll be able to grow them. I also left the Helda beans as they have slowed dramatically but are still putting out beans. I stopped by the farmer’s market to pickup another head of garlic. Was hoping for Inchelium but found a huge head of Lorz Italian I’ll try this year. The green onions are doing great. I had started another batch about a month ago and those are very small but doing well too. They may end up going under cover later.

During cleanup I found a lone little lettuce seedling with about four leaves. I transplanted him to an empty spot where I had buried some refuse a few weeks back.

I didn’t take a pic of the garden after cleanup as it isn’t quite done. Instead I’ll add a sunrise pic I took on the morning commute.

Lessons Learned: 1. Just because a seed pack says great for containers doesn’t mean it won’t get large. Not sure the size of container they had in mind for those cukes. 2. Planting 3 zucchini plants in a hill for 2 people is too much. Go with 2 next time. 3. Carrots should probably be grown under cover here.

Downtime

September came and went without much going on garden wise. The temps cooled and the rains made a regular showing. Fred kept creeping along to the point of needing his own zip code. Helda kept putting out beans like crazy, more clubroot was found in the broccoli planted this spring and the zucchini kept getting larger and larger as the number of visits per week declined. One a positive note, large zucchini can be treated like eggplant (bake the slices instead of frying them) and made into a wonderful zucchini parmesan.

The milder temps were not soon enough for the spinach tho. It all bolted and ended up being dug into the garden to help enrich the soil. That is new for me. Typically garden refuse would go into the compost pile. This year I made trenches and dug it back into the garden. Everything went in except the brassicas (clubroot) and anything with seeds like the few large cucumbers I ended up missing over the summer. The lettuce I planted at about the same time also bolted. I cut it off at the ground level to see if there would be any chance of getting anything decent once the temps cooled. Doubtful but worth a try.

figlets2015-09-13 All of the three fig cuttings I started last Spring have figlets and are about a foot tall. I started with a bag of dormant 6″ long cuttings from the Brown Turkey and Petite Nigra container plants a dear friend adopted. Looking at these I’m thinking they are all BT. This is fine as I do prefer their flavor over PN.

The second round of carrots I planted ended up with little holes through most of them. A root maggot of some kind. Need to research that one. I’m thinking a floating row cover would be a good idea next time.

The Iditarod tomatoes took forever to start producing but once they did were pretty consistant and had a good flavor. The Celebrities were gone at about the time they started so we have had a good run of tomatoes from the two plants on the balcony.

The horseradish I planted in a clay pot and buried is HUGE. While I did have a horseradish plant I had never harvested any of it so that will be new for me. I know it is one whose ability to regrow from the smallest piece of root left behind. For this reason it was planted in a clay pot and buried. It remains to be seen whether or not that will work. There is, after all, a drainage hole at the bottom.

Lessons learned: 1. Wait to plant spinach and lettuce for fall. Mid July was much too early.

Keeping Track

Spinach

Every year I promise myself to keep better records than the year before and every year’s end I look back and realize I was nowhere near as consistent as I had hoped. Not sure when I planted the lettuce in the pic but it does look good.

So far I am 1 for 2 with the late spinach. The Oriental Giant is showing signs of bolting but the Palco is looking good. The days are still warm but not as crazy warm as they were earlier.

Fred

The bad news is Fred has a case of the powdery mildew. More bad for how he looks than anything. The good news is Fred has been joined by Ethel. The couple have completely taken over the walkway between the two 50′ (I think) long beds.

Frog

I saw one of these little guys last year on the broccoli in my Helpline row across the garden. They must like the cabbage worms or perhaps the few aphids I see occasionally.

Solarization

Anita is trying to beat back clubroot. According to the prevailing wisdom solarization can help to take the numbers of spores down. Hope it works. I’m going to miss brassicas.

Overloaded

Garlic Braid - Silver White Garlic The garlic spent about a week in the garden after harvest. When it looked like it was going to rain I brought it home and laid it out on newspaper on the balcony. We have a rather large overhang and it worked well to keep the bulbs dry, allowing them to finish curing. I ended up with about 7 or 8 bulbs of hardnecked Turkish Giant. I didn’t realize it when I planted these but only the hard necked varieites of garlic have the flower tops. They are great cooked and purred in a milk based soup. A soft garliky flavor not to strong but very hearty.

Onion Harvest

I decided to pull the onions. They didn’t seem to be getting any larger and the leaves were starting to die back just a bit. I started out with 6, a pretty good haul. I’ll save the largest of these to plant this Fall.

On the 20th I planted two types of spinach Oriental Giant Japanese Spinach and Palco Hybrid. It is probably too early to plant fall spinach but, not knowing what the weather will do I decided to give it a shot. If we get an early cool fall it will be great. If the heat continues I’ll have a lot of bolted spinach.

Spider vs Bee

Last year and this year a nasturtium has volunteered in my plot. The leaves can get as large as saucers though they seem a bit smaller this year. Perhaps it is early or perhaps they are in need of some fertlizer. When I was taking this photo I didn’t have my glasses on. I saw the bee but didn’t see the spider till I looked at the photo later. Looking at later photos the bee seems to have made her escape unscathed.

Helda Pole Beans

The first harvest of the Helda Pole bean. I am amazed at how tender they are even when they are long. I tried one raw and I am not nearly as fond of it as I am the topcrops. They do cook up nicely though. They are advertized as only requiring 60 days to mature. Fairly quick for pole beans. I haven’t done the match so I don’t know how accurate that is in my garden. I do like the convenience of the pole bean and the little bit of real estate the vines occupy. Harvest is easy, the long beans are easy to see.

Blix Vika+

Today was all about harvest. There were several zucchini, enough beets for a couple of meals, all of the yellow potato (aka multiplier) onions, lettuce and two types of beans (topcrop bush beans and of course the helda pole beans). While I was filling my containers it had slipped my mind that my mode of transportation was my new electric bike. It wasn’t till I was overloaded that it hit me. I was afraid I was going to have to make a second trip to get everything home but I was able, with some creating packing, to get it all home in one load. Leaves flapping in the wind.

Carrots-a-Plenty

Tiny Carrots

Rock farm in June is such a beautiful sight. All of the gardens are going strong and the textures and shades of green are breathtaking. I like to wander between the rows and see what everyone is growing.

Having had zero experience growing carrots, I was in awe at how beautiful they looked in the garden. Their lacy leaves reminding me of parsley, the contrast of their airiness next to the other veggies made for a nice mix of patterns. They seemed a bit crowded so I thinned these and the beets, a good mix for some roasted veggies.

Baby Zucchini A 10×20 spot doesn’t give a lot of extra room for the myriad of squashes and vining goodies like watermelon and cucumber. Discouraged at finding the club root I decided to make the best of it and plant some zucchini that I had started in a mango container from Costco. I started with three plants in two hills and once production starts I’ll probably lose one of them. A person can only eat so much zucchini. I also started what are supposed to be container cucumbers in three hills. Not sure how they will do as they are currently somewhat shaded by the garlic.

Radishes The radishes I planted alongside the pole beans are doing well. These are tender, not a bit hot and a great size for a snack.

Garlic is another crop I haven’t had much experience with. I did get a crop grown in KY and mistakenly had it laying on the lawn the day our neighbor came to mow. The entire area smelled like garlic for a week. This year’s crop looks strong if the tops are any indication. I planted a short row of beans between the two rows of garlic as I had a few extra seed at the time. They are doing well, propped by the garlic. Not sure if their ability to fix nitrogen will have any affect on the garlic but I have high hopes.

The garden is coming along nicely. The peas are going crazy. I am getting more peas out of this half row than I did from last year’s whole row. Renee’s cut and come again lettuce mix is on it’s 2nd or 3rd cutting, the broccoli is going strong as are the bush beans I planted just before vacation. The pole beans got off to a slow start but seem to be picking up steam. Last year’s purple sprouting broccoli has sent up a new shoot. The basil is doing so-so, I think It is too shaded.

My garden, June 25, 2015

by: kerry