The Lettuce Lady…aka The Tomato Lady!

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lettuce 2Guess what you can call me now…The Lettuce Lady!!!! I started 30 some different kinds of lettuces this year. I just transplanted them, well, been working on it for several days now. A bazillion little guys.

Why, do you say? I love lettuce, not the insipid kind you find at the grocery store. There are so many kinds of lettuce out there, romaine, butterhead, mini romaine, batavian, deer tongue, oakleaf, crispheads, loose leaf, and colors – rich red, burgundy, dark green, light green, spotted, speckled, and more.

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It is easy to grow although it doesn’t like heat much. Use it as a thriller (centerpiece) or as a filler in containers with plants that like the same conditions, full sun, cooler temps. Pansies, alyssum, lobelia are great companions.

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You could work in some heat-loving annuals too. When the lettuce and pansies are done and the heat comes on. replace them with petunias or geraniums or small zinnias such as “Lilliput” for the new “thriller” in the center of the pot. It goes well with alyssum and lobelia. (What doesn’t go with those two? All well-dressed containers should have them!) It’s kind of like succession planting in a pot.

lettuce tom thumb prizehead

Think about other plants. Parsley goes well. Nasturtiums. You can make your own salad bowl that is edible AND pretty!

What goes better with tomatoes than lettuce? Add bacon, bread, and you have a sandwich. Yummmm.

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Nifty Way to Plant an Accessible Kitchen Garden

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Here is a picture I saw on facebook about a different way to garden. The only caveats: the bag will weigh a lot so make sure that where you put it, is where you want it (you might try putting it on a cart with wheels if you want to move it to catch sun) and that what you put it on, is able to hold it’s weight. Also, PUT DRAINAGE HOLES UNDERNEATH, LOTS OF THEM!

Try shallow rooted veggies like radishes, round carrots, lettuce, spinach, beets etc.

Seed Catalogs Starting To Come In

Actually, they’ve been showing up in my mailbox for the last several weeks. I swear I swore off gardening forever when the first frost hit in October. Dragging hoses, pulling weeds, battling bugs and trying to find homes for my abundant garden produce, well just about tuckered me out.

Quite honestly, this was not my best year for gardening. The tomates were a fall crop, (although I did win a grand prize for my Willamette tomatoes at the fair), the peppers were the worst season I’ve had, (and I’ve had some fabulous plants the last couple of years), the zucchini squash plants took over the garden, (I’ve never seen them ramble as much as they did), and the onions didn’t bulb up much. Spider mites attacked my roses and dahlias, slugs ate my tomatoes and my pepper plants, (they had a penchant for the cayenne), and it was a banner year for yellow jackets.

On the upside, my volunteer sunflowers came up in spades, I found some lovely garlic that I had missed last fall, my carnations looked fabulous, and my nasturtiums were lush and aphid free.

Ok, so where was I…right, catalogs. It is almost the first of the new year and still the dead of winter, but perusing all the catalogs that are coming in and seeing all the pretty pictures has stirred something in me. The need to grow things, to “create life”. Not to be blasphemous, but sometimes I think I might know a little of how God must have felt when he created the earth. How pleased He must have been to plant beauty and watch it grow. Despite all of the problems I had last summer, I still am excited about the coming spring, an opportunity to start over again. When you think about it, isn’t that what gardening boils down to?

I was looking through the Irish Eyes Garden Seeds catalog tonight. They are located relatively close to my home in Spokane Valley, WA. Irish Eyes is based out of Ellensburg, WA on the eastern side of the Cascades. I believe in buying local when I can. One of their claims to fame is organic, early season varieties. Yugoslavian Red and Cardinale are two kinds of lettuce that I am going to try, one is a butterhead and the other is a head lettuce. I may even try potatoes again. some of the fingerlings they offer look yummy. Check it out at http://www.irisheyesgardenseeds.com

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Catalog Fever: Botanical Interests

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I’ve started going through my seed catalogs. If I recycled them by the pound I’d have about 20 dollars worth. Some of these catalogs are miniature works of art. Beautiful pictures and fascinating information make it a pleasure to read through them. So far, I’ve gotten through 3 catalogs. One I’d like to recommend is “Botanical Interests”. Their website is http://www.botanicalinterests.com I was intrigued with their hand drawn illustrations which brought out the beauty in the flowers and the vegetables. Of course I’ve always thought that veggies are decorative in themselves. This year I will order the “Calypso Beans”, Lettuce; “Butterhead Speckles,” and a couple of melons; “Minnesota Midget” and “Canary Tweety”. I know, I know, I’ve never had good luck with melons but these look interesting and have shorter maturation dates. All gardeners keep trying, don’t we? For flowers, I will order a dianthus called” Rainbow Loveliness” one of the sweetest smelling and most delicate flowers I’ve ever had the pleasure to grow. I’m a big fan of impatiens and they have “Swirl Monet Blend”, a picotee blossom that looks like it’s in shades of pink. With all of the catalogs out there, most of whom are offering the same varieties, it can be hard to choose who to order from. It’s nice when a catalog goes above and beyond just trying to sell you seeds and treats you to a satisfying, visual experience, That alone sets them apart from the crowd and makes me want to purchase from them. Check out their catalog!