Bibb lettuce ready for harvest. Note triangulated planting which enables mature-plant foliage to cover all soil, reducing evaporation and sprouting weeds. Water two days before intended harvest to assure crisp leaves.
From 12 plants, a bin full of lettuce, harvesting the individual leaves. Toss the outermost old or bug-chewed leaves into the compost pile. Leave the several smallest interior leaves to continue growing for future harvests. Rinsed twice to filter out garden soil and debris, into ziplock bags, excess air squeezed out, and refrigerated, this will provide enough for several dinner-plate size salads.
Harvests of individual leaves from this 20-foot row of triangularly-planted lettuce (see last photo of 11/7 blog) will keep us in huge nightly salads through May or June when heat will make the plants bolt and go to seed, turning the leaves too bitter to eat.
Love those Dancy tangerines!
Bird netting around each clump of fruits, with a small hole at the bottommost "open air" spot enables me to harvest when I (not the birds and squirrels) want.
Parsley (left) and cilantro (right) germinate at different rates.
Deciduous tree trunks painted with white or beige-colored interior latex paint prevent winter sunburn damage.
Asclepias, butterfly plant
Between those first searched-for lettuce 6-packs at nurseries, and my seeds sown at the same time, we finally have our first dinner salad. My favorite lettuce is Bibb, with its intensely curly and crunchy midrib, richly green color with rouge highlights, and sweetly-tinged flavorfulness. Other shapes, colors and textures add to the salad-bowl diversity, but that Bibb is my mainstay. And, apparently the Bibb seed remains viable longer than many other varieties, since seeds from my three-year-old packets germinated more successfully than year-old packets of other varieties. Picking the dozen or so remaining Dancy tangerines from last year’s set has been a joy we’ve been rationing since it’s best to leave fruits on the tree until we want to harvest them. They’re so fully plump from absorbing that more-than-half-inch rain we had. Wonderful balance of tartness and sweetness, and so easy to peel. I recommend this variety highly, if you’re considering planting a tangerine! More plentiful are the persimmons we’ve been harvesting as we (and not the birds and squirrels) like. My success in wrapping branchfuls with bird netting has worked for a couple of years. I punch a hole only large enough for my fist and clippers into the bottommost open area that’s unreachable by critters because gravity would make them fall off before they could enter. Parsley and cilantro germinate at different rates, parsley more slowly – up to three weeks! If you sow your parsley-family seeds (including carrots and dill), you’ll need to lightly sprinkle the bed perhaps every other day to keep the seed hydrated until it finally germinates. I’ve found that lightly scattering some sawdust or compost dust on top of the seed will help retain the moisture but not bury the seed. Even so, by the time I forget about continuing to sprinkle – some two weeks later – some seeds finally begin to germinate so I remember to sprinkle again. New asparagus shoots are coming up, but are the size of a pencil so I’m leaving them to fern out so their energy will revert back into the roots. Next year’s shoots will be large enough to harvest – even if only a couple of them per plant – without depleting the plant’s resources. I’ve painted my deciduous fruit tree trunks to reflect the sun so they don’t get sunburned. Yes, even though temperatures feel mild to us, the sun’s rays are intense on tender new wood. Other young trees in the garden for their first winter should also be painted since their bark is still so tender. Although it seems counterintuitive, be sure to use interior latex paint which will allow the bark to breathe. Exterior oil paint will clog bark pores and suffocate the tree. White or beige colored paint will reflect the sun’s light best. Inexpensive paint can be purchased, or more expensive paint can be diluted half with water. Paint can be applied pretty sloppily - no need to get into all the nooks and crannies – since you’re just concerned with generally reflecting the sun’s beating rays. The part of erratic weather that I love is the roses sporatically blooming and bulbs sprouting their color at unexpected timings - even if they're just the first ones! Just like enjoying my ripening peppers all winter long (since we get no frost to kill the plants) instead of their supposed harvest time during warm weather! But then, I do find horticultural weirdness in all its permutations to be fascinating and intriguing!