Success! For weeks I’d dropped in at various nurseries in the hopes that someone had some baby bok choy or tatsoi, asparagus, artichokes, celery, and some lettuce varieties besides the usual suspects. I love the baby bok choy (pak choi) and tatsoi to add to salads and soups. My husband doesn’t like kales or chard when cooked (how can anyone not love them stir-fryed with garlic and leek in butter and sesame oil?), but he does enjoy them raw in salads and doesn’t object when I add some (not a lot!) to soups with other strong flavors to camouflage the greens.
I also found additional asparagus six-packs and 4” artichokes to replace plants that hadn’t resprouted following their late-summer dormancy (I stick short stakes near the root bases so I know where to look).
I was especially happy to find a six-pack of celery. This is one of the great food producing plants - if soil is kept moist but well-drained and perhaps a bit of late-afternoon shade during the really hot part of the summer, it'll produce right through summer. The trick is to keep it fast-growing through sufficient water to "thin" the concentration of strong flavors. Also, as pictured above, slip half-gallon milk containers around the transplant to help blanch the stalks for a more mild flavor. The two really amazing things about growing celery for the first time is the amount of leaves - up to half of the plant (which is a wonderful resource for soup-makers) - and that there are so many stalks that keep coming after you harvest some (twist and rip from the base, don't cut!). So much more worth growing than purchasing!
My favorite lettuces are bibb and some buttercrunches, but both are labeled so generically these days in addition to being grown so fast with so much overfeeding, that I can’t really tell if they’ll result in the tasty firm crunchiness that I’m looking for, once they’ve “slown down” in my garden. Another great reason to grow your own from seed!
Which of course I do, but I also want to plant some seedlings to fill in and produce before my own starts are large enough to transplant and produce. Years ago, I felt too loyal to my own seedlings and consequently didn’t have much production since various critters munched many of the plantlets before I could, and then nurseries no longer carried seedlings so I was completely out of luck. So now I go any way I can, overplanting in several areas! Besides, I like patronizing my local nurseries every way I can by discussing my preferences and purchasing plants, even one six-pack at a time!