Sunday, June 5, 2011

Salad Days

Early June.  Summer came early this year, but it's always a big rush after the last frost-free date to get the major part of the garden planted.  Here in Ithaca, New York, Memorial Day weekend is a safe bet.  But already we can enjoy the fruits of early spring planting.  We're even still enjoying overwintered greens.  This was a particularly good year for over-wintering greens, between the relatively mild temperatures and the decent snow cover.  We had also covered the little spinaches, radicchio, and lettuces with leaves in the late fall.  The radicchio did spectacularly well, as did a few lettuces:

In early April, the new salad crops were sown, and now they are thick.  It didn't hurt that April and May were the rainiest in history.  We hoe up raised beds with paths between, and sow the lettuce thickly.  Shades out a lot of the weeds!  Here we have (from the top) Red Deer Tongue, Tropicana (or was it Barbados?), and Nancy lettuce. 
In the mornings, I thin the beds, while at the same time picking for the table.  The key is to feel around the base of the plants, and pick out whole plants, rather than just leaves.  Even on a busy day, the plants can be thrown in bowl of water, roots first, and sit around as a lettuce bouquet all day, before being washed and packaged up in the evening (except for what's eaten that day of course.)