First of the Garden Produce

Would you believe that we had fresh kale and lettuce from the garden already?!

That’s right – on March 31 – which is officially the earliest we have ever eaten from the garden – we had our first salad.

lettuceI was going to publish this yesterday – but then I realized that some of you might think it was a hoax because of April Fool’s Day.

But believe me- this is no joke.

So how did we get to a harvest so quickly when this is the time most people are just getting things planted?

Remember back last fall when I happened to mention in a post that Buddy and I transplanted some late cabbage, broccoli, kale and lettuce into a thrown together cold frame of cement blocks and old windows?

broccoliWe had hoped to harvest fresh veggies into the winter – but that didn’t work so well. Everything stopped growing, some even looked dead, so I called the experiment a mistake and forgot about it.

But then the weather warmed up this spring and some of those plants perked right up and started to grow!

it was a miracle!

cabbage

And now, for the first time ever – instead of playing catch up with my Amish neighbors –  I’m ahead of them!

Never mind that I had to start last October and it was kind of an accident.

Hey – I win is a win!

And fresh veggies the last day of March is most definitively a win!

True Confessions

lettuceI feel like I must confess here.

After all my noble efforts to start my own plants this winter – well – ahem – things haven’t worked out so well.

Let’s start with my pathetic cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower plants.

They were so bad that when I was shopping with my sister at the Amish stores – in a moment of weakness I bought all new big and beautiful plants and planted them in my garden.

That’s not all – the spindly little cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower starts that I’ve been nursing for months got yanked out of their pots and – are you ready for this – fed to the chickens.

Ouch.

But wait – there’s more!

Most of cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkin, and squash plants looked fabulous for a while – but then started shriveling up and dying. Anything that had at least one green leaf got planted in the garden this week.

I think I will need to do a lot of replanting!

But on the bright side -we’ve have several meals of asparagus, a few tiny radish and our first garden fresh salad. The lettuce I planted was a mix of different varieties – some I am not familiar with.

Pedro took one bite of lettuce last night and announced, “I think I just ate a weed!”

I must confess that since my garden is not exactly weed-free that I”m more that a little worried he did!

Speaking of lettuce – during that same shopping trip with my sister Teresa – I also bought 2-4 packs of  head lettuce to put in the garden – thinking they would give me a head start on salad.

Two nights later there was a bunny convention in my garden and all my beautiful heads were served as the entree. Let’s just say that was some expensive bunny food. 🙁

But then there’s my tomato plants. We moved them into bigger pots a few weeks ago and planted them in the garden this week. They are doing great!

My friend Mendi asked me at Matt’s Graduation party just how many tomato plants I actually planted this year. Would you believe I didn’t even know?!

But since this post is a confessional of sorts – I sent Angel Girl out to count.

58.

Yes – I need to confess to going slightly overboard and planting fifty-eight tomato plants. I may be handing out bags of ripe tomatoes to random strangers come mid-August! 🙂

There – now that all of my garden blunders are out in the open – I have nothing more to hide.

They say that confession is good for the soul – I hope it’s good for a laugh or two as well! 🙂

I’ve linked this post up with the Tuesday Garden Party over at An Oregon Cottage.

Plant a Salad Garden

Salad With the price of food so frightfully high, and the danger of salmonella in fresh tomatoes, it may be time to consider planting a salad garden. All you need is a planter, potting soil, and some seeds. I would recommend leaf lettuce and spinach to begin with.

Plant the seeds according to the directions on the back of the seed packet. Then keep it in a sunny location, such as a deck or patio and keep it well watered. In a few weeks you should be able to start eating the baby greens.

If you plant a new garden every 3 weeks or so, you will have fresh greens all summer. Enjoy the greens until they start to go to seed, then just pull them out and replant.

Why not try a cherry or grape tomato plant in another pot? Or a sweet pepper plant? Or even jalapeños! Try different kinds of lettuce for a unique salad combination.

You don’t need a huge country garden like mine to save money on fresh salad all summer long. Being creative with the space you have is a great Thrifty Thought!

Cold Frames and Cold Weather!

A dream came true for me a few weeks ago… I have a cold frame.

Now many of you are probably looking at me a little funny. What in the world is a cold frame and why is it a dream come true? I’m so glad you asked!

A cold frame is basically a portable green house. You can plant seeds in the ground and cover them with the cold frame to extend your growing season.

I’ve had one on my husband’s “honey do” list for several years, but it never quite happened. It took the high cost of fresh produce this spring to send him out to the shop to figure out something!

Now this cold frame will never grace the cover of Better Homes and Gardens because it isn’t very attractive. It’s a big white plastic square container that my husband found in his pile of treasures out behind the shop. (I used to call this his “junk pile” but have since learned that he can make amazing things from his pile of junk-I mean treasures!)

He cut off the top and bottom and set it on my newly planted lettuce and spinach plants. An old wooden gate on the top allowed rain to come in and still keep chickens out.

No, it isn’t pretty. But it works! I just checked today and I have the cutest little lettuce and spinach plants popping up!

It has been unseasonably cold here the last few days and we’ve even had snow flurries. I won’t be in the big garden for at least another week or more to plant anything. Yet, I have a head start. By the time I get the rest of the seeds in the ground, we should be eating and enjoying fresh baby lettuce and spinach.

Yes, it is a “make-do” cold frame. But that’s what homesteaders do best. We take what we have and re-purpose it to make what we need.

Now I have fresh vegetables growing in a cold frame that cost us nothing but a little time and some ingenuity!

I can almost taste the fresh salad now!