Posts Tagged ‘salad’

Getting the Garden In

Monday, May 25th, 2009

As we come into summer, it really is time to get most of your planting done.  Digging the soil thoroughly with a good garden fork and breaking up any clumps of soil goes a long way to ensuring better growing conditions.  It is also a good idea to add an inch or two of compost or composted manure to your beds and work this in before you plant.

In May I like to  direct seed a small section of salad greens (about 6 x 4 feet) as well as bush beans, dill, and coriander.  It is also the last time you can plant green garlic – cloves of garlic that have been pushed into the ground about 1″ and that are harvested like green onions.  Garlic senses the decreasing light levels after the summer solstice and starts putting its energy into the bulb.  Anything planted later in the summer will not grow to more than an inch or two.

I also plant transplants of lettuce (8), endive (6-8), green onions (80), swiss chard (2-3), and beets (24).  The green onion and beet transplants are in what I call multiplant transplants – that is there are ten green onions and four beets for each transplant cube, you plant this as one group and they grow apart from each other, reaching full size.  So in essence there are only 8 green onion transplants with 10 seedlings in each (total 80) and 6 beet transplants with four beets in each (total of 24).  When planting the transplants need enough room for the clump to grow so give the green onions 6-8 inches and the beets a foot between each multiplant transplant.

May is also time to plant carrots and parsnip.  Both of these vegetables take about 2-3 weeks to germinate so it is good to get them in the ground while there are still fairly consistent rainy spring days.  The best way to grow good carrots and parsnips is to double dig the bed that you are planting them in.  This ensures that the soil is dug deeply and is loose and free of clumps.  Garden forks are far more efficient for digging than shovels – look for a fork with long times – 10″ – rather than the shorter ones with 8″ tines.  Push the fork into the bed as deeply as you can go and turn over the soil.  Then use the fork to smash the clumps apart as best you can.  Pull any weeds, remove any rocks, and use your hands to crumble any remaining lumps.  Doing this a second time makes a huge difference, and your carrots can grow straight and deep without interruption.

I try to start a tray of seedlings every month, so that I have a continuous supply of some sort of salad vegetable.  Whatever seedlings you start in May will be ready to harvest in mid to late July – since this is a time when all sorts of other vegetables are ready – cucumbers, zucchini, beans, the first tomatoes – I do not do too many salad vegetables.  My tray is over half basil, with maybe 3-4 each of lettuce, green onions, fennel, and endive.

Happy gardening!

Moving My Transplants

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

After a few days of cold, wintry weather, spring has returned to southern Ontario.  I did plant some salad greens last week and I am sure that they survived the small bit of snow that we got and will start to germinate this week.  I have covered them with a double row of floating row cover as an experiment to see if the extra warmth results in an earlier harvest.  I am hoping to eat my first salad before the end of this month.  Will keep you posted!

I set up my little mini greenhouse today and moved my spinach, lettuce, green onion, beet and endive transplants outside.  The greenhouse is made of 2 x 4’s and four second hand windows, its about 2 feet tall and 6 feet long and has glass on the top and the front.  I made it 2′ tall so that it could hold my tomato transplants that will go out in late April or early May.  The flats I moved out today are already 3 weeks old and will have to go in the garden within a week or two.  They are all hardy vegetables and can survive a few cold nights, though if the forecast calls for several degrees below freezing, I will probably bring them in for the night.  It feels good to get them outside and the natural light will help them to toughen up a bit before they go in the garden.

Cooking in Late March

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

I find it gets more difficult to feel creative about eating locally and seasonally in late March, at least here in Ontario.  I start to feel like I have eaten enough squash and mashed carrot and turnip for this year.  We are enjoying an early spring this year and so I have been harvesting some Jerusalem artichokes – they are nice roasted or parboiled and then sauteed with some salt and pepper.  There are also many interesting recipes for Cream of Jerusalem Artichoke soup on the internet, and one in my book, From Seed to Table!

I also like to make a few salads with chick peas or other legumes, grated carrots, and some kind of sprouts.  Sometimes it helps to think out of the box when it comes to salads -  toasted pumpkin or sunflower seeds, hard boiled eggs, grated cheese, all help to liven up these salads while making them nutritious enough to stand on their own at a meal.  Try adding a grain such as quinoa or barley or making  a vinaigrette with grainy mustard for another nice change.

And know that in a month or so, those first salad greens should be large enough to pick! (If it stays warm like this I think I will plant my first batch of salad greens next week and cover them with a double layer of floating row cover and hope for an early harvest).  For detailed instructions on planting salad greens see the April chapter of From Seed to Table.