Tag Archives: lettuce

100 Kg of food…not too shabby

I figure at this point in time, we may just have another month or month and a half left of growing season here on Long Island. This year we have stretched our production considerably longer than in the past, and as of this last weekend we had harvested over 221 lbs of food (just over 100 Kg). Whatever we squeeze out of our yard from now on is just gravy, but I do hope to scratch the 250 lb mark before it is all over for this year.

Fall is a pretty boring season when you think of it in terms of gardening, not much to really do apart from cleaning up and start getting things somewhat ready for 6-7 months from now…I have spent the past couple of weeks removing and chopping plants that seemed to beg for a quick yanking out of the ground, and feeding them to our ever growing 2015 compost pile.

I am  now tending to a garden that is barely growing at about 20% capacity. As I remove spent plants I am discovering those that hid and had so far eluded our salad bowl. I am getting a better sense of what is worth growing again, and what is not worth saving the space for next year.

Our main attraction at present is the cut-and-come-again lettuce. We have been eating it regularly out of a 4 sqft section that I planted about a month ago. IMG_5400 IMG_5401

This weekend I decided to add 4 more sqft so we do not run out once they start growing at a slower pace. The spinach in my garden grows very slowly for some strange reason, but thankfully we have plenty of radicchio and chard to cook with in its place.IMG_5381 IMG_5398 IMG_5382

This year I experimented with a few different brassicas, most of them already did their thing a couple of months ago. The only plants of this family that we still have in the ground are Brussel sprouts, which seem to slowly be forming their tiny buds, and the fabulous kohlrabi which we have really enjoyed throughout the whole season.IMG_5383 IMG_5450

At present, we still have carrots and celery growing nicely.  Last week I pulled all the bell peppers out, and left some cubanelles and a mild hot pepper with a nice flavor to finish their show for the year. IMG_5402IMG_5377IMG_5376

Just about two weeks ago my friends Dawn and Mike gave me a small plant that produces about inch long slender but extremely hot peppers (no kidding). I hope to use these in some of my “picante” hot sauce  to see if I can harness and tame their incredible fire power to an edible level. IMG_5395

My plan for the next 7-8 weeks includes topping off my garden beds with the compost I have been cooking all season, plant the 2015 garlic, and perhaps build one last raised bed. I am not sure what is the best way to maintain the raised beds during the winter, should I cover them up or leave them exposed? If I cover them up, should I use plastic, cardboard,  hay or wood chips? Or  should I perhaps  put a thin layer of horse manure on top and cover it with leaves? Any ideas will be appreciated.

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Mid summer garden update

As I have been reporting all along, we are having a fantastic production of cherry tomatoes, the only variety we grew this year. We finally have reached the point at which our daily harvest is much larger than what our family can eat in salads in one day, so we have started to incorporate them in our usual recipes, and have shared our surplus with friends and neighbors.

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Last week was really bountiful, we also collected, onions, not very big, but very tasty, acorn squash, beautiful eggplants, and of course lettuce and basil. The latter seems now to grow much faster than my son can eat as pesto. Our hot peppers started to turn red, and so far I have collected a couple that I will be using to make hot sauce.

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The rains here on Long Island last week were a real blessing. All the plants look happy and are producing fruit regularly. By the end of the week, after the torrential rains subsided, I planted our next crops (lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, cucumber, spaghetti squash, zucchini, carrot, a funky looking heirloom pumpkin, and Kohlrabi which I am trying for the first time). I find that by starting to plant again at this time we can substantially increase our garden production as we have fair weather until at least mid to end of October on Long Island.

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Do you become a more daring cook when you have excess produce? In my next post I will share a simple but delicious recipe of a traditional Venezuelan breakfast with a twist.

Heat damage control

We had a great weekend away, but upon coming back we were faced with a very sad looking garden. The terrible heat wave that hit Long Island at the end of last week had no mercy on our garden, and even some heat tolerant plants looked sad and listless. The worst looking plants were of course the lettuce, which appeared as if someone had boiled them, and the radishes which had folded over and drooped over the sides of the tiered bed. Sunday afternoon, I spent a few hours watering, pruning  and trying to prop up all the fallen plants. All the photos in this blog were taken between yesterday and today. In retrospect, I wish I had taken some photographs to record how bad the situation was when we came home, but my mind was on trying to save what was there.

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Red sails lettuce in recovery, new growth at the top
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After three days, radishes are still standing but showing some burn scars
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We lost some cukes in the heat

This morning, the garden’s condition changed from critical to stable, but under close supervision.  The lettuce is once again up, there is new growth towards the top and it is  looking bright and healthy. The radishes seem to have managed well also, and the celery stalks feel firm in spite of the brown edges on their leaves. We lost a few cucumbers on the vine, that withered in the intense heat, and since our bees do not seem to know how to pollinate zucchini, I can see some flowers failed to produce fruit. In the intense heat, however, the peppers, eggplants, tomatoes,  acorn squash, and  basil seem to have gotten stronger.

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We will get some radishes after all
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Tomatoes managed well, even with some charred leaves
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Hot peppers getting hotter
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No worries here
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Turnip seedlings still doing fine
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Squash are nice and plump

Since we do like to travel in the summers, the goal for next year will be to improve the reach of my sprinklers to cover the garden area, any suggestions are welcomed. As an immediate solution this year I will try to improve the ground cover with extra straw to help keep the ground from baking in the sun if we happen to go away during a couple of very hot days. As I write this post, I can hear loud thunder outside, and the forecast calls for rains the next couple of days.

Getting Ready for Round #2

By the end of June, we had already cleared out a couple of rows of veggies. One row had Romaine lettuce, but with the regular harvesting the plants started getting to look too scraggly, so we have ended up pulling them out and using them. The other empty row is where once again the snap peas failed to grow…

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Some of our daily harvest
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After washing the lettuce we separate it from their stems and tie it up in mixed leaf heads.

We have enjoyed the almost daily harvest of different lettuce varieties, and have been able to share with friends, neighbors and with the local church that runs a nice soup kitchen once a week.  So we have made a decision to re-plant our empty rows with new varieties of lettuce and salad greens, as well as turnips and beets. We planted the turnips and beets directly in the empty rows, and while we free up more room in the garden we started the greens in newspaper pots. There is a very good Youtube video on how to make the square pots.

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We first tried the round ones, and then found out how to make the square pots in YouTube

For Round #2 we have chosen to grow arugula, oak leaf lettuce, Swiss chard and red lettuce. As of today the seedlings were coming out of the soil, so we’ll probably be ready to plant them in another 10 days or so.

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Here they come