Monday, April 16, 2012

Accidental Salad


I wish I could say I deserve this salad, that I put in hours of careful planning and hard work, but the truth is, it was an accident. 


Today, for my first harvest of the year, I'm joining Daphne and friends for Harvest Monday, where you can see what lots of other friendly people are growing all over the world. (On purpose I bet, too.)


Even when I'm not on top of things, my garden has my back. Here's some Black Seeded Simpson and Red Salad Bowl lettuce sprouting up in the gravel under the garden bed where I let them go to seed last year then carelessly forgot to gather the seed. I've been digging them up all Winter and planting them in the garden. I was so happy to see the Red Salad Bowl because I couldn't find it for sale this year. 


Here they are now. They went through snow, frost, and hail and still look pretty good. I couldn't have planned it any better if I'd tried. I will definitely be using this "technique" again. There are carrots planted among the lettuce. They won't be ready for a couple of months.


Green onions came up in the gravel too. Have you ever let a green onion grow a second year? They put up an adorable round flower that bumble bees love. Obviously they did their job well here. The mama plant dropped lots of seed before I transplanted it to the front garden.


Last month my asparagus arrived! Here's what bare root asparagus looks like. I planted a dozen of these along the North edge of the first bed. They get very big, so you want to put them in a spot where they won't shade everything else out. This entire bed will be a permanent planting for the most part. I plan to experiment with potatoes. I used to rotate them, then I noticed each year, before I ripped them out, that the volunteers coming up in the previous year's beds looked better than the planted ones. I don't know if this has something to do with  planting depth,  planting time, or both. We'll see. January is the earliest I've ever planted potatoes. If this goes well, I may just leave the seed potatoes in the ground in the Fall instead of digging them up and storing them. I know you couldn't get away with this without raised beds and these ones are especially nice. Let me tell you a little more about them. (Please ignore the weeds, they seem to have gotten away from me again.)


After the construction of the house was finally completed we had a bit of money left in the account. We decided to take that money and make a really nice vegetable garden. I know my husband  wanted a new bike instead. What a dear man.  One thing about my husband: when he takes the time to build something, he really likes to figure out the very best way to do it. He's a civil engineer and as nerdy his way as I am about plants. The three beds are redwood, twelve feet long, four feet wide, and two feet tall. There's three feet of gravel all around and in between them. They are oriented exactly South and West so that one long side faces North and the other faces South. They are exactly level and square. There are 2x2 footings at each of the four corners  and in the centers of the sides of each of the beds sunk two feet deep in concrete. They will outlast me, and possibly humankind.


I couldn't find a photo of the beds under construction, but here's what it looked like before we began. They  would be right where that pile of construction rubble is. The first thing that we had to do was auger the holes for the footings. Augers are evil devices. It's like an enormous drill with a smoke belching motor and four handles on top. Two people hold it up while the bit (supposedly) spins into the soil. Then you reverse it and it spins out leaving a hole behind. I'm a foot shorter than my husband and about a hundred pounds lighter. Every time that damn thing hit a rock, it would stop, the top would spin instead, and I would
 fly around like a little rag doll.

I sure miss this sweet old girl
After the sides were assembled, we covered the bottoms with a double layer of chicken wire to keep the gophers out. We bought a load of topsoil and had them dump it out right on top the middle bed. That was a mistake! The sides popped right off. We had to empty it with shovels and screw them back on again. We also got a load of "soil amendment". We alternated topsoil with soil amendment and filled the three beds with shovels, mixing as well as we could. It was A LOT of work and took all five of us an entire day. The expense and hard work have really been worth it. (For me, anyway!) The topsoil is just a little sandy and drains so well. The extra height combined with the orientation makes a large surface area facing South that keeps the beds warm even in the Winter. It's really nice not to have to bend down too. Each year I add home made compost. The beds are full of earthworms now, and the plants don't seem to need anything else but water. I water with a home made system. It's just mini sprayers and drip tubing hooked up to a garden hose. Nothing fancy here.


This is completely unrelated, but also unplanned. The "willdflower mix" I planted on my horrible hillside last Fall surprised me! I didn't expect anything to grow. The one thing that did is more than I could have ever hoped for. Five Spots!!! My favorite California native. I'll be looking for a source of bulk seed for these beauties for next Fall's planting.


Just one last adorable picture to cheer you up. This is Blue Cat creeping through the dandelions under my garden bench.

22 comments :

  1. I've only ever seen green salad bowl lettuce - I do like the idea of a red one, I'll have to see if I can find it here. Nice salad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It is a really nice lettuce. Very heat tolerant.

      Delete
  2. The salad may be from volunteer plants but it was no accident that you harvested and enjoyed them! Your garden beds are beautiful and such a nice height.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Of course you deserve that great looking salad. I wish I had room to grow some veggies. Especially potatoes and sweet potatoes.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Cher! I'm finishing it up for lunch today. Did you ever try to grow potatoes in a big pot?

      Delete
  4. I love the idea of volunteer plants. Isn't ot great that you did that, since you can't find the seeds this year?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a very nice gift from my little garden!

      Delete
  5. Ditto to what everyone else has said so far! Volunteers are awesome and salads are great and always well deserved :-) I also love your beds! We just put in some new beds in our backyard and I'm very excited to use them this year!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Have fun with those new beds!

      Delete
  6. what a lot of work your beds were! Here in the desert I'm actually thinking of ripping out the wooden boxes, they suck water like crazy. Love those flowers, will have to look for some seed. I found Red Salad Bowl at Peaceful Valley, http://www.groworganic.com/pvfs-lettuce-red-salad-bowl.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for finding those seeds! I'm glad someone's still growing them. This lettuce would do well for you too. You'll have to do some sunken beds. My cousin in Texas gardens underground.

      Delete
  7. Accidental or not, it's a lovely salad. LOL. I bet it tasted good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! It was crunchy as could be.

      Delete
  8. The lettuce in my garden right now is the same. It popped up in the paths after I let it go to seed. I hope it survives the heat today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope so too, Daphne! I can't believe a person as organized as you let your seeds fly away too. Now I don't feel so bad.

      Delete
  9. I really like the white flower with spots on it very pretty. Looks like you will be very busy preparing your garden. Volunteers are great!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Volunteers save me every year in one way or another, that's for sure! It's already warming up, so I'll probably start planting warm season vegetables a little early next weeked. I bet Five Spots would grow in Australia too.

      Delete
  10. Your salad lools fresh and goodtaste. Accidental or not, homemade vegitables are the best,I think. I was very glad to get a lot information about the way to build your great beds and your husband on your blog.
    You took great pains with the fabulous beds,I think.It is really nice for your health not have to bend down. "home made water system""home made beds" "home-made vegetables"....I like the word of "home-made" very much.
    By the way,A Pine tree is growing naturally in my garden.I guess a bird dropped its seed.It is such a happy present for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Home-made is a good word. You have to work hard to earn these things and that makes them special. Surprises like my lettuce and your pine tree are gifts we didn't earn. They make us feel special instead.

      Delete
  11. See Kate--you're such an awesome gardener you get veggies by accident! Blue Cat is so cute!

    your sis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only the things I do on purpose would turn out so well, then I might feel just a tiny bit awesome.

      Delete

Creative Commons License
A Garden in Bootjack by http://bootjackgardener.blogspot.com/ is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.