Friday, March 19, 2010
Early salad greens
Before my spring sown lettuce has even sprouted, I am already enjoying fresh salads from the garden this week thanks to the use of a row cover. I planted this mesculun mix last spring and let it go to seed and linger. By November I had so many little lettuce volunteers, I hated to let the frost get them so I decided to make a row cover using arches made from 1/2" PVC pipe anchored to the ground with 18" rebar stakes, then covered it with some 6 mil clear plastic I had laying around and weighed it down with rocks.
Despite two months of freezing temperatures and constant heavy snow cover, my little lettuce babies made it! One week of nice, mild, spring weather and they have tripled in size and are ready to pick. I am definitely going to do this again next fall and maybe even put a little effort into it. I'd like to have a raised bed just for spring lettuce with better soil quality and no weeds for the lettuce to compete with. Perhaps I'll even toss in a little spinach to go with it.
After seven years of marriage, I have been able to train my husband's taste buds to actually enjoy salad. He says he really likes these greens and that they are much sweeter and crunchier than usual. Oh, I have a new favorite salad dressing that goes just perfect with them. Ken's Steak House Raspberry Walnut Vinegrette -- it's so good you can't even tell it's lite! You can really taste the walnut in it too. I like a little shredded sharp cheddar and either sunflower seeds, walnuts or almonds on it.
Unfortunately, I left the cover off after I finished picking my last salad and the chickens straightway mowed my little patch down. They like salad too. It will grow back soon enough, but I just don't think it will taste as good after it's had chicken feet all over it. :/ Chickens are worse than deer in the garden.
Tomorrow I am taking part of my tax return and going to the feed store to buy some fencing. (This was already the plan, even before the chickens ate my salad.) I am going to fence the back forty to contain my free ranging layer flock and pasture my next batch of broilers for fall. I hope to put a dairy goat back there soon too.