Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘lettuce’

Growing stuff – August 3rd

It’s pathetic really.

I don’t know where I went wrong with these tomato plants.

Grew them from seed on the window sill then nurtured them all winter in the living room where they grew to be strong, confident, healthy tomato plants!

They sprung all sorts of little flowers and seemed so healthy.

So why is it now August and this is ALL I have to show for my effort??

One lousy tomato

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But on a good note, we have been enjoying eating “local” ( as in from the balcony) when it comes to the greens.  The arugula has been a spectacular success and the mixed lettuce leaves delicious!  We’ve even been adding some of the young chard to the salads and it tastes great!

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But now the birds seem to have decided that they like beet greens and have been having a go at them!

I decided to pull up one of the beets, you know, just to see how everybody is getting on.  It was just a tiny thing so I shoved it back in.  Hopefully it will continue to grow!

And then I pulled on one of the stray potato plant branches and found this little nugget!

One potato

Well, I guess it’s still a bit early for the underground things!

Growing stuff – July 20

Well the summer is progressing along and things on the balcony garden are still growing.

But the weather this year has been so weird that I’m not sure how things will turn out.

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The potato plant is still growing like gang busters.  I’m not sure when I am supposed to harvest that.   I had trouble last year and so they never got to fruition.

Potato plant

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The arugula is looking fantastic and we hope to eat some of that this weekend!

Arugula

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Bit of trouble with the cabbage.  Seems that some sort of florescent green little worms have been eating their fill of it.  I caught them in the act munching little holes all over, so I “removed” them.   I will have to keep an eye on them.

red cabbage

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The beets are doing great, but again, don’t know when they will be “ready” to pick?

Beets

 

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No tomatoes on the plant

The tomatoes continue to disappoint.  I can’t believe after growing them from seed starting in like January….and coddling them in the living room window all winter and giving them painstaking care…..that there is still as yet not even ONE tomato growing anywhere on the plants!   Sad, very sad.

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And then the Chard is FINALLY doing very well after a challenging start!

 

Swiss Chard

 

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And last but not least, I have a very pleasing batch of lettuce going.   But as usual, I had to move it inside because the BIRDS love lettuce and will keep eating it until they fall over!  Maybe that’s the answer!

Lettuce

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Happy Gardening!

 

Growing stuff – May 18th

Well things seem to be progressing along nicely in the balcony garden.

I planted some beans this week.   Those skinny French green beans.   Nothing has happened yet of course.

The poor Swiss chard still isn’t growing too fast.  But I did have a basket like cover over them to keep the birds off which I think was stunting their growth.  I have stuck a mini twirly doodle in the middle of them to see if that will help with the birds.

Swiss Chard

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The oregano plant is coming along very nicely all by itself.  The birds don’t seem to care for that, too strong I guess.

Oregano

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And the mint is slowly coming back.

Mint

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The latest batch of lettuce is doing well, but I have been bringing it inside when it is unsupervised, because the birds LOVE it!

Lettuce

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The tomatoes are doing VERY well.  But I admit I am babying them.   Putting them out during the day and bringing them in at night.

Tomato plants

I don’t know if you can tell by the picture, ( look right in the middle ) but I am seeing the start of the little flowers that will turn to tomato!

Tomato flower bud

I just love the way touching a tomato plant makes our fingers smell!

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Added a couple of flowers for colour and so the bees will visit and pollinate stuff.

This is the big planting weekend in Canada!  But be careful, I’ve seen they are calling for frost and SNOW in some places!! 

Weird weather this year!

Happy Victoria Day Weekend!  And happy planting!

Weekly update April 13

I just realized that it is Friday the 13th!!

I don’t think plants care about that!

Well, I think that I figured out what the mystery plant might be………seems the neighbour kid “Jack” traded his family cow to some questionable character for some lousy beans!  And he hid them in MY flower pot!!!

No…..not really.

Truth is, I still have NO idea what the heck these are!   ( If you are just joining us, CLICK HERE to catch up on what I am on about )  But it seems they grow bigger by the day!

Mystery plant

And now they seem to be developing a bud of some sort! 

Mystery bud on mystery plant

 I think I will keep them indoors till they flower, because I know the birds will go crazy on them if I put them out on the balcony!

I planted some “new” Swiss Chard seeds in a bigger pot outside and am trying again.   So far nothing has sprouted and when I came in yesterday I noticed that “someone” ( pesky squirrel) has been digging in the pot!  “Why I otta………”

But I am pleased to report that the tomato plants are coming along wonderfully!

AND the little container of “micro greens” which is really just lettuce that you cut before it grows into its real self, are doing just fine too!

Micro greens

Although I have had to take extreme measure to protect them.  Seems birds LOVE micro greens!

I think it will be warm enough to start planting some other things really soon!

Can’t wait!

Almost garden season!

I am very lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest, where we are almost always in a state of “Spring”.

Things still grow all winter here, not all things, but things.

I’m ready to get started growing some things.

My friend sent me this crazy little cactus terrarium from Christmas. 

I followed the directions and within a few days I got these crazy little cactus sprouts.   Unfortunately they haven’t got much bigger and look a little like they are molding, but I haven’t given up on them yet!

Sprouting cactus

I

n another window, I have one of those other “kits” growing.  I think this one is the “pizza” or “Italian” one with tomatoes and basil

It is doing quite well and I will have to transfer those tomato plants soon.

Pizza combo

I have also started my lettuce.

Recently the Chef and I were eating somewhere and the dish was topped with “micro greens” which I just assumed were those lettuce you get in the box…..baby ones, as it were.  But in fact, they are a different product all together.  Micro greens are picked even sooner than baby greens!  basically just after they sprout!

sprouting lettuce

So I’m gonna give them a try and see how that goes.

(Click here)  to see late year’s lesson in lettuce growing!

I also saw something on a home decorating site that I am trying too.  Lentil sprouts!   These people are using them as ” Spring table decorations” but I think you could probably eat them too!

I soaked some green lentils over night and then added them to this bowl that has a damp piece of paper towel in the bottom as to their instructions.   I’ll let you know…….

Sprouting lentils

Won’t be long now!  I will once again be at war with the squirrels!!  Have to start thinking up some strategies!

Seriously

I never realized that birds actually like lettuce that much!

I mean, I know about the seeds and the bugs and the like, but why MY lettuce??

Where we last left off in the balcony garden, all I was down to was my last batch of lettuce and some Swiss chard that I was hoping to have at Thanksgiving.

Lettuce and chard

Both were doing quite well but I had to keep chasing the birds away from eating them.  In fact I started bringing them inside during the day for their own protection.

I thought the birds had grown weary so one day I left the lettuce out and from morning to afternoon it went from this:

Healthy happy lettuce

To this:

Lettuce chewed to the bone

No respect.

I have actually been keeping the chard inside and it is doing surprisingly well.  Perhaps I will keep growing pots of it all winter.

And then to add insult to injury……

I was sitting in here, minding my own business, as I often do, with the balcony door wide open because it was a beautiful day.  I heard some sort of commotion, turned around thinking it was a situation on the balcony.

Imagine my surprise to see a squirrel standing there in the living room!  We both looked at each other and screamed ( well, his face looked like he was screaming if he could scream!) very much like an episode of “Scoobie Doo”!  He freaked out and started running around, apparently not noticing the open door way, whilst I hollered at him to get out!

It’s always something.

Click the “In the garden” tab at the top if you would like to see the full progression of the balcony garden this year.


 

Closing down the balcony garden

Well, I guess it IS Fall so it was inevitable.

Actually we are blessed around here that there are certain things we could grow all year if we wanted to, but the regular things have come and gone.

So I thought it was time to clear out the dead stuff and pack everything up securely for winter.  We don’t live too far from the ocean, so we don’t get “winter” per say but sometimes it sure gets windy so I need to make sure things are secured!

Of the two remaining tomatoes left on the vine ( that would have made three in total this year) one was starting to finally starting to ripen.  I’ve had my eye on it all week and was just waiting for the perfect moment to pick it for maximum sweetness.

Imagine my despair to find it GONE!  Not just with a bite out of it like the last one, but actually gone!  Heartbreaking.  And then the one tiny green one that WAS left, laying there in the pot, half chewed and discarded!

pillaged tomato plant

Dried up crazy wild lettuce plants

These crazy wild lettuce plants served well.  The birds loved hanging off them eating the seed pods.  Or maybe that’s what gave them the taste for my other lettuce!  But it was fun watching them try to hang on.

The flowers have also done their duty and are ready to go.

Flowers winding down for winter

The chard and the last batch of lettuce are all that’s left.  With any luck we will eat the chard at Thanksgiving, assuming no one else helps themselves to it first!

Lettuce and chard

I guess that’s it.  We are ready for what comes next.

Ready for winter

Balcony garden update II

There has been a lot of turmoil on the balcony garden.

The cauliflowers were all lost, growing like mutants or just rotting.  Prehaps it was because they were living with the potatoes?  Hard to say.  Maybe I needed to tie them up into balls?  Maybe I was just letting them grow wild!

And then today I found  my ONE tomato with a bite out of it!  Someone must have thought it was good!

Tomato with bite out of it

But they won’t win!  We ate it anyway!  What’s a little bite between neighbours?  I just cut around it!

This tomato made beautiful sweet bruschetta!  Topped with a little fresh basil from the window sill!

Bruschetta from my tomato

Then my curiosity got the better of me and I could wait no longer to see what’s under that potato plant!  Well the smaller one anyway.  The one I kept hacking down to let the cauliflower grow!

I was a little disappointed on first pull.  Not too much came out. 

Potato extraction

 But then I dug around a little deeper and found a few choice nuggets!  I’m not all together convinced that there aren’t still some more down there but I didn’t have time to sift through all the dirt.

Freshly harvested potatoes

Considering I never actually planted any potatoes and the plant just had the will to live, I’m thinking anything I get is a bonus! I roasted them up with a few yam parts and they were all sweet and delish!

Roast potatoes and yam

I need to be patient with the other potato plant and let it keep going awhile but I don’t want them to rot.  Then again THIS plant was just part of the other one that I ripped out of the other box to help make room for the cauliflower, but then when I saw it had a bunch of tiny potatoes growing on it, I quickly replanted it!

Escaped potato plant

This is just one plant taking over the place!!

And then luckily after a rocky beginning of being half eaten to death by the birds, the chard and the lettuce have bounced back nicely!

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Trouble in the balcony garden

I’m afraid the news isn’t too good from the balcony garden.

Still waiting for the ONE tomato to get red.

One lonely tomato

I started a new batch of lettuce but the birds kept eating it!  What is up with THAT?  Earlier in the year they had decimated my fresh mint but it has since grown back since I took it out of their reach.  So I had to out smart them and figure out some sort of contraption so they couldn’t get at the lettuce but it was still free to grow and live it’s life!

Bird proofing the lettuce

Same problem with a pot full of chard I am trying to grow.   Only with this one the birds went straight for the seeds!

Bird proofing the chard

But the most concerning problem is what is happening with the cauliflower!  I’m so sad with the outcome of this.  Could it be because they are still competing with the crazy potato plant still thriving in the other side of the bin?

Take a look what is going on.

They started off nice and white and round like this:

Normal cauliflower development

 But then suddenly they have turned to this.  Stray pieces growing randomly with an almost purple off colour to them.  Very troubling.

Mutant cauliflower!

Any thoughts on what might be going on or how to remedy the situation?   I would love to hear from you!

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Balcony Garden update

Not really sure why things are growing like crazy, what with the dismal excuse for a summer we’ve been having, but I guess the will to live prevails!

Click here to check out how things started  and then on our last update  click here to see where we got.

Now things are just out of control

In the centre of my cauliflower plants grew a big old, unsolicited, POTATO plant!!  I kept chopping at it to try and give the cauliflower some access to the sun but it just kept growing.  So the other day I just pulled it right out of the dirt and low and behold, two very cute little potatoes that I roasted up and we ate.  The were super sweet and delicious!

New potatoes

But then I noticed that there were all these tiny weeny potato like things hanging off the roots so I replanted it in my compost bin and we’ll see what we get come end of summer.  But at least it isn’t suffocating the cauliflower anymore.

Potato plant

As for the actual cauliflower, they somehow have managed to grow in the potato shadow and now we have little baby cauliflowers!

baby cauliflowers

Baby cauliflowers

 There is one tomato growing and it is coming along nicely.  Actually I am impressed by the size. Tomatoes never do well, it’s just too cold for them.

One green tomato

But it is the lettuce  and lettuce like things like arugula that is growing like crazy.

Arugula gone to flower

Remember our little lettuce project……..we are still eating it!

Lettuce

We’ve been enjoying the red lettuce very much.

Red lettuce

And then there is this.  They started out as a pot of random greens that we bought at the garden centre.  I wasn’t really sure what kind of greens they were so I let them grow and they got bigger and bigger.

Whacky big green stuff

I like this stuff though because the birds LOVE it and like to swing on the ends so they can eat the seeds off the flowers, which is great because it means they are finally leaving my mint alone that they chewed down to the bone!

Birds swinging in the greens

There’s always a lot of action out there.  Each day brings new surprises and provides endless entertainment.

You should try it.

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Lettuce lettuce everywhere!

Time to check in on the balcony garden! 

Things are growing like crazy!  Remember how we started?  With just a few seeds and a few tiny plants?

Then they started to grow.

And NOW look at them!

And then we had our little cauliflower plants.

Well not only did they grow, but the craziest thing happened!  Right in the middle of them is now growing, a big potato plant!!  It must have got in there from the compost dirt and is now taking over the place!  I trimmed back some of the branches because the poor ol cauliflower isn’t getting any light!  Not sure how all that will turn out, could be quite a fight under the dirt that no one will win!

Then we have some arugula growing quietly beside that.

The tomatoes aren’t doing that well.  They like hot and sunny, something it really hasn’t been too much of this year.

This is them when they were planted a few weeks ago.

This is them now.

Not much change.

But all the lettuce is doing marvelously!  Lettuce lettuce everywhere!

So what to do with all the lettuce?  Well……when you’re done with salads……no reason why you can’t toss the greens into the juicer or if you want something more, put them in your smoothie!!  Great way to get your greens while you feel like you are just getting fruity goodness!!

One thing I find odd on the balcony garden……the birds keep stealing my mint.  What do you suppose that’s about?  Air freshener for the nest??

Grow your own

In keeping with the whole balcony garden concept, here is something you can get started right now.

Do this project with your kids, they will love it and will be thrilled to watch things grow and chances are, if they grow it themselves, they will love to eat it!

Here’s what you will need:

Get one of those boxes that organic lettuce or spinach or whatever come in. (Clean one)

Lettuce box

Then punch a few holes in the bottom for drainage and then place it on top of the lid……label side of the lid up, or so that it is like the box is sitting in a little tray to catch any water that leaks out.

Then you want to fill the box half way with some nice dirt.

Box with dirt

Now whatever you do, don’t make the same mistake I made when I first started growing things.  Get yourself some REAL dirt.  Don’t just go and dig some old stuff from beside the parking lot or your driveway…..that dirt is dead.  Go to the store and buy and nice little bag of dirt, they are very reasonable.

Or if you are an experienced grower like I am starting to be, I keep my last years dirt, but over the course of the winter I feed it with peelings, vegetable scraps and egg shells and such, that I then keep turning under with my little shovel and it magically turns into beautiful dirt.  Now I’m lucky to live somewhere that I can actually do this, so if you can’t, then just buy a bag of dirt.

Nice composted dirt

Then you will need some seeds.   Today I am using mixed lettuce seeds, but you could use arugula or herbs or any other quick grow leafy product.

Seeds

Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the dirt and make sure you aren’t crowding them.

Sprinkle seeds

Seeds in the dirt

Then it’s time to cover the seeds up with more dirt.

Cover with dirt

And then sprinkle with a bit of water to get started.

A little bit of water

And then sit back and wait for them to grow!

Now if you live somewhere that it isn’t warm enough yet for this to stay outside, then by all means bring it in and set it on the window sill or some other sunny location.  And if you really want to give the seeds a head start, find another lid ( who doesn’t have too many of those!) and just place it loosely on top and create a green house affect.   Water it regularly but be careful not to drowned them.  I find a squirt bottle the best way to water them when they are starting out. 

Let’s check back later!

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