Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Salad Days

Big Beautiful Ice Queen Lettuce

Remember those big "volunteer" heads of lettuce I pointed out in my last post? This big head shown in the photo above weighed in at 1 pound and provided me with enough crispy cool lettuce for many salads and sandwiches. These big heads started from seeds that last year's plants sowed all by themselves. I also have some Ice Queen babies starting to show themselves in the newly planted section of my garden along with the other Spring greens.

Even with gifting a big head of lettuce each to Jack and Bob, I still have several left out in my garden. I must go out there and harvest them soon though. With this warmer weather we are having, those cool weather greens are starting to bolt. They have already sent tall spikes of leaves upward toward the sun. Next will come flowers and seeds, both making the lettuce leaves taste bitter. I will pluck the remaining heads and store them in the spare fridge. They will keep for a week or two.

I predict lots of salads on my menu for the next few weeks.

Another early season harvest item is show in the photo below and fits right in with the Spring salad theme.

French Breakfast Radishes

These are the first few radishes of many. I have already enjoyed them in a few salads. I noticed that there are many many more waiting to be plucked from my garden soil. Their round red shoulders are showing above the soil line asking for attention.

I really need to make the time to get out there and tend my garden this week. My tomato seedlings are big enough to be planted out there now. I will do it as soon as I remove the new layer of weeds that have established themselves after our rainy and now hot & humid weather.

Maybe if I get up tomorrow morning and just don't answer the phone or turn on my computer, I can sneak outside and play in the dirt for awhile. You think?

Happy Spring weather everyone.

© Copyright 2009 Mountain Harvest Basket


Hardware Bob said...

One of those leafy, crisp volunteers was the centerpiece of my dinner last night, along with some home made dark olive oil and balsalmic vinegar dressing.

Oh, and also a side of leftover bbq'd tri-tip, garlic potato slices, and some grilled zuccini.

I had some happy tummy experiences last night, thanks again for the great lettuce Farmer Jen.

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Oh I know exactly what you mean by not answering the phone or turning on the computer. Because we live in such close quarters, this laptop of mine is almost like an appendage of my being. It's hard to let it just sit quiet in the mornings. But that's exactly what I have to force myself to do sometimes, especially these nice cool mornings when it's easier to work outside.

Your lettuce and radishes look like they came straight out of Sunset magazine!

Farmgirl_dk: said...

Love that top photo, Jen...and I *still* have scale envy. Just haven't been able to find the right one that doesn't (to me) seem to cost way too much!

So...do you know if one pinches off the first signs of bolting and flowering, whether this will prevent the lettuce from turning bitter?

Pretty radishes...mine are still extremely small and seem to be getting nibbled on by something just below the surface of the soil.

frugalmom said...

Oh my goodness. That lettuce looks amazing. I bet it makes the best tasting salads around.

Can I tell you a secret? I am awful at growing lettuce. Just awful. I think its the thinning thing that gets me. I just see those little plants and I want them all to grow up...its hard for me to part with them even tho I need to. Sigh. Im a bad lettuce mama.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Mmmm! Such beautiful radishes and lettuce, my friend.

Enjoy your special time playing in the dirt. :)


Farmer Jen said...

Hi Bob,
I am glad you enjoyed my homegrown lettuce, and I am glad that you ate a nice salad for dinner.

Hi CA Grammy,
Thanks so much for the veggie praise! That means so much to me. I am unable to ignore my email or phone. I am addicted.

Hi Danni,
My scale was not that expensive, and it works great. It's just not as beautiful as I would like it to be.

Pinching off the flowering stalks on bolting plants will slow it down some, but it won't prevent the leaves from becoming bitter or the plant from going to seed. It will win eventually. I usually just pluck the whole plant out of the ground (the green leafy plants anyway) and eat it. My green onions that I have been growing in a big pot on my porch for the past several years, however, do continue to grow and stop sending up flower stalks when I pinch off each one. I usually allow 2 or 3 flower head to go to seed first and then pinch them off.

Radishes vary quite a bit. I have found the most success and my preferred flavor with the French Breakfast Radish.

Hi Marcee,
I usually do not thin my greens until they are big enough to actually eat. Then I harvest every third or fourth plant to give the others room to grow and to allow the air to circulate between them hopefully reducing the bug and slug population. I eat the thinned out greens.

Hi Lisa,
Alas, I have not had much time to play in my garden dirt yet this year. Thanks for the veggie praise.

Knit Witch said...

Wow! That's awesome! I picked some lettuce out of our garden over the weekend - yum!

Farmer Jen said...

Hi Knit Witch,
Isn't it fun to grow your own food? So fresh and healthy too.