Sunday, June 30, 2013

How to plant and harvest Cut & Come Again lettuces


Planting and using the cut and come again method can be the most rewarding way to get greens from your garden.  You plant at one time and then harvest through-out the entire growing season.

Most types of greens can be used in the cut and come again method.  I successfully use mesclun mix (both sweet and bitter mix) and any Swiss chard, romaine lettuce, oak leaf lettuce, or even kale.  All grow back successfully for several harvests from the same spot.  I plant as early as the package allows, usually planting bio-intensively - using a entire packet of seeds for my 1X6ft row.  Then as soon as my plants are 4 inches tall, I start to harvest.

I harvest by taking a pair of garden sheers/scissors and cutting off only the top 2 inches of the plants leaves.  This leaves the bottom of the plant to continue to grow.

As I come back again and again, I always head down the row with my garden scissors to the spot that is the tallest and start cutting there.  I leave the bottom and those leaves sprout new growth within a day or two so that within a few weeks I can cut that same exact spot again!  It’s a brilliant way to have greens all summer long.


With this particular spot, I planted early lettuces with shallow roots (sweet mesclun) which will bolt by late July and be pulled.  This will give my corn a bit more room to spread out and get ready to create it’s own harvest.  (The peas on the other side of the corn will also be pulled around that same time.)

Chard works a little differently than lettuce greens, as it doesn’t get super bitter when it bolts.  So when it gets away from me (notice I don’t say ‘if’?) I will just allow some of the plants to bolt and pick the leaves off the sides of the bolting stalk instead of pulling them all out.  This is also true of kale, but not of any lettuce greens.  It is only a consideration when planning where you want your season long harvestable crops to go.  Place chard and kale in spots they can live all season… but lettuce can take up space early and then be pulled to make room for my needy crops (like corn, tomatoes, and onions that require room when they are fruiting) and then,  because they do not need pollination to create a crop, you can plant lettuce for a late crop right below you fruiting crops and have a winter harvest as well!


Here is my chard row:


Can you see the spaces where I have harvested already?

It’s a 1X4ft row that I placed an entire packet of chard seeds in just as we hit the last frost date.  Because I use chard in my juices in the morning, I tend to have two of these rows going at all times and I also use beet greens from my beet thinnings.  That way, each morning have that sweet chard flavor and garden fresh nutrition that absolutely can not be beat! 

Happy gardening!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Crow Adventures

It was a noisy week when the two fledgling crows decided to leave the nest.  Crows are naturally very territorial and I have no idea why they picked a yard with 3 hunter cats in it to put their nest.  But they did.  We heard them up there squawking away and figured if we were brave enough to nest there, we would be patient and just let them do their thing.

Last week, we heard an AMAZING amount of noise coming from the back yard.  We walked out back and saw our grey hunter cat, Bo, stalking a large black crow fledgling on the ground. 

I saved her (although I don’t believe she was in too much danger as the cat couldn’t get close without her throwing out her wings and the cat retreating) and placed her on my lap.  For the next hour, she huddled right here:


We didn’t know what to do.  I read a little bit and it said that at all possible, if you could get her back into the nest, that would be best.  The nest was a good 30ft up in our limbed fir tree.  Not a chance without something like a cherry picker or an electrical bucket truck.

So we decided to do the next best thing… put her in a neighboring tree in a makeshift nest.  I called the wildlife preserve just to make sure this could be successful, and the lady said it was a great idea.  So I sent Alex up a tree with the baby bird in a berry basket.


The parents perched in the tree above our heads and made sure that we knew their displeasure.  For the next. Two. Days.  Each time we would walk out there, they would start up bombing and screeching.  At one point, my neighbor came to see and she got dive-bombed with poo.  They tried to POOP on her! 


After that, baby bird jumped out of the berry basket and snuck behind the playhouse in the corner of the yard.  She started hopping up the wisteria that grows back there and settled in the quince bush for a whole afternoon.  Mama and papa bird were still very upset, but they would not dive bomb anymore and I watched as they brought her food a couple times a day. 


She got bigger and braver over the next couple days and I could tell her feathers were coming in fast now.  I suspected it wouldn’t be long before she would fly away herself.  She was getting braver, too.  No longer afraid of the cats, she would jump down and hop across the lawn when she wanted them to come feed her.  She often would end up in my garden.



The last day we saw her, her parents were angrily screeching from the tree in front of the house on the south/garden side.  I couldn’t find her at first, but then I spotted this big black spot in my mini apple tree.


There she was… hopping up the tree, getting ready to jump the fence into the tree across the street. 


That evening, I took the little boys outside so we could lay and watch airplanes (one of their favorite things to do) and I was struck by how silent it was.  No screeching baby or parents were anywhere in sight.  The next morning, when I went to water the garden it was the same.  Our baby had left the nest. 


Friday, June 14, 2013

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{Inspired by SouleMama}


Thursday, June 13, 2013

7 flowers you should add to your dinner tonight (that you probably haven’t eaten before)


Walking through the garden in June is a THRILLING experience for any foodie.  It’s crazy exciting to see the newest crops come in.  Peas, lettuce greens of all kinds and this week we got our first handful of June strawberries!  We eat salad nearly every night with my cut and come again crops all ready for harvest.  To make it more interesting, I have started adding all kinds of flowers to the bowl. Each of these flowers grow in my yard and each one has a different flavor to test and enjoy!


Sage flowers - If you like sage, you will love this burst of sage flavor in your salads.  These sweet little flowers have a mild sagey type flavor which reminds me of a yummy herb sausage gravy.  I love to add these to a savory salad with a nice sliced chicken breast over the top and some white wine dressing. 


Chive flowers - These babies are my favorite!  The mild onion flavor and pop of purple is perfect for just about any salad, sweet or savory.  I add them to Italian salads most often, but I have even been known to put them on baked potatoes to add that chive flavor with a pop of color.


Broccoli flowers - Broccoli flowers were something I remember from growing up.  Broccoli doesn’t grow here well, and takes to bolting the first warm day of the season.  So my mom always used to use the flowers as garnish or in salads.  As a kid I would just eat them raw from the garden beds.  They have a mild sweet flavor, which only has a hint of broccoli flavor. 


Pea flowers - They taste like… pea flowers.  There is no other way to describe them.  They taste just like the sweet green fruit they create but with a lighter flavor and are a beautiful addition to any dish that would be yummy with peas.  Add them to cooked dishes at the last second as these delicate little things will wilt quickly in the heat but if kept cold they will keep for quite a while with your salad greens.


Daylily flowers - The buds and petals of these large flowers are used in a variety of dishes.  I will put them around the outside of my salads for a larger pop of color.  They have a light bean type flavor and a good crunch if used fresh.  I have even used the petals as a finger food with a dollop of hummus placed in the rib of each petal.  Online I have most often seen the flower buds sautéed in garlic and butter for a yummy side dish.  In many places in the country they are a noxious weed (meaning like to take over any space they can).  If you are in one of those places, go on out and collect some for your supper!  But make sure they are not sprayed with anything first.  (More about that here)


Rose Petals - Did you know you could eat roses?  They are beautiful tucked into a dish as a garnish, but you can actually eat the petals of this lovely flower!  They have a light ‘rose’ flavor and wilt quickly, so only use them if you can get them super fresh. They are a wonderful classy way to add a pop of color to the top of a champagne glass or dribbled on a fresh garden salad.


Violets - This sweet and flowery little plant is famous for it’s edible flowers.  But unlike the peppery flower of the nasturtium, the violet has a very mild flavor that kids enjoy.  This is probably the most versitile flower in my garden, for although it has a dark and bright color, it brings so little flavor to whatever dish you are putting together that it can be put on top of a potato salad or dropped into a sweet martini and it will fit right in.

How many of these beauties do you have in your garden?


Friday, June 7, 2013

{this moment}


{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

{Inspired by SouleMama}

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