I wanted to share how we store our lettuce.¬† Not sure if you’ve ever had the experience of having lettuce go bad – the smell, the black slime ūüė¶¬†¬† yuck!¬† My succession planting has not gone exactly how I had planned, I still harvested, in one day, (4) gallon size bags of lettuce!¬† Much better than the past where I’m harvesting the entire planter in one day, but I need to get a bit better with my succession planting.¬†

Anyways, we eat a lot of salad and use lettuce on our sandwiches, but that’s still a lot to eat before it all goes bad.¬† But I have found a way that seems to prolong its refrigerator life (well at least it works for us).

Here’s how it goes…..

Harvest the lettuce

pull individual leaves, wash and spin

lay out a layer of paper towel, spread lettuce leaves in a single layer (you can overlap some but just don’t do too many) and then lay another paper towel over and continue the above process

I usually do 3 high and then I fold it over and store in a ziplock bag in the veggie drawer. 

 

This keeps the lettuce nice and crisp but also keeps it from having too much moisture which is what seems to be the culprit of the lettuce rotting so quickly and it’s ready for your meals.

With this method none of our lettuce has gone bad and it’s not a total pain when you are getting ready for dinner and want a salad – no washing or spinning – it’s already done for you.

And I always save the paper towel and bags and reuse (because I know it sounds very wasteful) but I just had to replace one of the bags paper towels (and this was after 5 uses).  You could also use tea towels if you prefer.

We have been enjoying wonderful salads every night with dinner – the kids love them too!

I just stumbled upon this draft of a post I wrote in April.¬† I was just about to write a post about our garden so I’m going to start with my draft that never made it “live” and then I’ll continue with the status of the garden as of this past week.

April Post……

Yummy french breakfast radishes. 

I have been busily working away in the garden, every day off, every non raining day, that’s where you can find me – it’s been my therapy.¬†¬†There is nothing better than being outside, alternating working in the garden and playing with the kids.¬† Their new fave thing is to draw on the driveway, race their bikes up and down and launch paper airplanes – so it’s perfect to be out front in the garden while they are laughing and playing.¬† The majority of our edibles are in our front yard (gotta work with Mother Nature – this is where we get the most sun) I wouldn’t change it – I love having our edibles up front for our neighbors to see and hopefully be inspired by.¬†

We have been harvesting our young lettuces and arugula which has been heavenly. 

We planted our favas¬†a bit later than we should have, so they are going to be later than I would have liked – but nevertheless, we’ll have favas.¬† I always have good intentions of getting a cover crop going or getting a winter garden going – but when we are in the thick of the rainy season – I just can’t pull it together to get out there and plant.¬† Especially when it’s dark when I get home from work.¬† I vow, one year I’ll get it together and then I’ll probably be so happy about it that it’ll continue year after year.

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The kids were excited to see the nasturtiums coming up a few days after planting them – those are totally rewarding plants to plant with kids – plus you can eat them!

We’re so stoked about the plans we have for this years garden, we plan on doing a lot more “intermingling” of our edibles and ornamentals to really utilize every square inch of yard.¬† We’ll keep you posted on that.¬† We are waiting for our seedlings to get bigger and the weather to warm up to transplant our summer veggies.¬† For now they hang in the mini greenhouse.¬†

While browsing the yard I was sad to see we have scale again on our Santa Rosa Plum

Doug used some horticultural¬†oil over the winter – but I think it just got washed off in the heavy rains we had.¬† So he sprayed some more and since then it’s looking better.¬† I also found some peach leaf curl on our peach and nectarine.¬† So I hand picked every leaf and bagged it and trashed it and they are both looking much better.¬† Keeping my fingers crossed.

June update….

Well, remember that little nasturtium sprout above, here is what they are looking like now!  They are (to me) very happy looking plants Рnot quite sure what it is about them, maybe their round scalloped leaves or their beautiful little flowers or that star burst appearance of the veins

but they just make me happy. 

The other plants in this bed are our potatoes (¬†Yukons, purple peruvian, creamers and red).¬† This is my first year with potatoes – I didnt’ realize how big they would get, I must rethink their location for the next crop – I don’t think this is the ideal location or at least I need to move them in this raised area to another side (they are starting to shade some of my other plants.¬† We planted the tomatoes on the other side of the potatoes and ran some fencing across the back so the tomatoes can weave in and out of the fencing (a different method of staking – basically trellising – we did this with an orange tree too and it has worked great).¬† You have to get creative in a small space if you want to grow a lot.

I’m hoping that the potatoes will die back in time for the tomatoes to flourish – it’s all about trial and error around here.

By the way, the raised bed we made out of some rocks our neighbors were getting rid of (backyard remodel).¬† We had been looking for an old stock tank to use but couldn’t find one in time to start planting.¬† I actually like how this came out.¬† Another really rad idea is using straw bales.¬† Our friends over at A Sonoma Garden recently did this and I was over there last week and checked it out – sooooo¬†cool!¬† Great seating and sometimes the non permanency is kind of nice – it gives you the chance to experiment and move things around.

We added to this new bed some hot peppers (annaheims, jalapenos, serranos¬†and pasilla), some broccoli (the kids can’t get enough of this), rainbow chard and basil.¬†

The kids and I harvested our first bunch of french babettes. 

These were so delicious!¬† I’m working on my succession planting so there should be some more ready soon.

We continue to harvest head’s of lettuce -our lettuce love continues.

The guava’s are in bloom ūüôā

You may have noticed my generous use of straw, it’s my attempt at my urban farm – Doug isn’t on board to packing it up and buying a farm in Wisconsin – he’ll come to his senses soon.¬† But until then, I have created my own mini farm.¬† It’s actually been great – it really helps keep the soil moist and is cost effective and has helped with weeds (and I get to pretend I live on a farm)

I was just told there are strawberries ready for picking tomorrow – yippee!

Here are just a few more pics of the goings on in the garden.¬† It’s been keeping us all busy – I LOVE it!

Happy Gardening to you.

The garden is looking good and keeping us busy.¬† Pretty much everyday that I am off I’m out there doing something (which I LOVE).¬† We recently purchased a bale of straw to help with weed control, retention of water and warming the soil – we now have our “urban farm” – WOW does a bale of straw go far!¬† We ended up using it in every square inch of the garden.¬† I’ve always wanted a farm ūüôā

It has definitely helped with weeds, moisture and warming and I do actually like how it looks. 

We’ve been harvesting lots of arugula and lettuce and have re-sowed for another crop (I’m working on my succession planting).¬† Our potatoes are looking good, broccoli’s coming up, been harvesting our french breakfast radishes, the fava¬†beans were planted late, but that’s ok, it will be great when they are mature (the kids love them).¬† I have a lot of plants that are almost ready to be transplanted (delicata¬†squash, zucchini, watermelon, heirloom melon, eggplant, tomatillos, cucumbers, thai¬†chili peppers, bell peppers and heirloom cherry tomatoes.¬† The temps at night were a bit warmer so I planted the 3 tomatoes that were ready to be transplanted and I have 2 more that are not quite ready for transplanting.¬† My goal this year was t try everything by seed.¬† We’ll see if that plan works.¬† I have a feeling I might be getting a couple plants at the nursery (and that’s ok).

I’ve been so busy working in the garden that I have forgotten about taking pictures – so those will follow this week.¬†

Here’s one I snapped the other day when I found this beautiful head ready for eating in the garden

I thought this was a beauty (I guess a couple bugs thought so too).

How’s your garden doing?¬† What have you been harvesting?¬† What are some of your faves?

The strawberries keep coming!  Yippee!  If you read my post from earlier about the bugs eating our strawberries, you would have thought we would not be pulling in the crop that we are.  Our bug juice worked!  Doug gathers a bowl every morning and today I went out during my gardening time and saw the beautiful little ruby red jewels peaking through the green in the patch Рwhat a lovely sight!

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I love the imperfections of growing your own food.¬† The “perfect” fruits and veggies you find in the store seem (to me) to be nuclear looking.¬† Like they’ve been pumped with chemicals, given a shot of steroids and then dipped in wax.¬† I do find some “picture perfect” fruits and veggies in our yard but I love to find all the funky ones, the teeny tiny berries, the gnarled looking pepper – the “imperfect” ones – those are my favorites!

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We headed back to the midwest for a week and during that time our lettuce bolted and got bitter, so I had to tear out that crop and¬†sowed more seeds¬†today (arugula, bibb, romain, and salad bowl).¬† I feel like I’ve been so crazy with other things that I haven’t been focusing on the garden so it was fun to play out there today.¬† I love to work in the garden with all the bees buzzing around me, the sun shining down on me, the kids playing in the dirt – it’s therapy.¬†

Here’s what I saw today….

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What’s going on in your garden?

I do not know what is happening with the bugs this year but they are devouring our plants.  We have a lovely little strawberry patch that has treated us well for a few years now.  Of course there are always some we lose to the bugs- it’s inevitable, but this year it seems they are cleaning up our patch.  Every strawberry we go to pick has something eating it on the other side.  It’s very frustrating. 

¬†I have our bug patrol on it and it‚Äôs still not helping (the bug patrol are Doug and Ryder).¬† They make ‚ÄúBug Juice‚ÄĚ and set out traps.¬† And those traps are full.¬† (sorry for the yucky images to come)

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The ‚Äúbug juice‚ÄĚ consists of canola/veggie oil and soy sauce ‚Äď it is FABULOUS!¬† We used to do beer in a cat food or tuna can but beer evaporates too quickly AND who wants to waste beer!¬† In our house that‚Äôs blasphemy.¬† Plus at the cost of the beer we like to drink ‚Äď WAY TOO expensive to be using to catch bugs.

¬†Anyways ‚Äď we‚Äôve lost a couple veggie starts also to the little buggers.¬† Our raised beds seem to be unharmed, but anything that has been planted throughout the rest of the garden is taking a beating.

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 (our lettuce is thriving)

Ryder is upset about the roly poly’s that are falling victim to the bug juice so we need to empty the contents of the containers without him.¬† He LOVES his roly poly friends!

¬†I have tried to be more Zen about the snails – if I do find them sludging around the garden, I pick them up and put them in our green waste bin.¬† That way – once they leave our property – I have nothing to do with what happens next (even though technically I do since I put them in there) but I feel a bit more Buddhist about not harming them.¬† But whoever falls victim to our bug juice, well, it’s survival of the fittest and I like my veggies to be slug/bug free or at least just not devoured by them – I would actually like to eat them.

To make up for the graphic images of the slugs meeting their untimely death I will end with some pics from around our yard……..

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our Rudbeckia ready to open

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alstromeria in bloom

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this year we are trying upside down tomatoes – I’ll let you know how they work out.

 

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our new ultra dwarf nectarine (haven’t even put it in the ground yet).

 

How is your garden doing?  Anybody else experiencing the destruction of our little garden foes?

We have been enjoying our Santa Rosa plums this year.  Last year we had some but this year is better.  So far they have been the perfect size to just pop in your mouth (well maybe my mouth- which is bigger than average) and eat down to the pit (without getting a finger dirty).  The kids have been enjoying the as well. 

The fig tree has about 15¬†little figs popping out.¬† Not much- but I’m stoked just to have those- Doug isn’t a huge fig fan so these are mainly my little goodies.¬†

The zucchini is still flourishing.¬† I have to check daily b/c if I don’t I end up with those giant suckers.¬† Which is fine- they work good for making zucchini choc. chip cookies.¬† Ryder and I made a huge batch the other day (we tripled the recipe) so we could bring some to his school and Doug’s work and for the neighbors.¬†

 We harvested some basil- it was about to flower- so we made some yummy pesto. 

Not sure what’s happening with the cauliflower- I may have to just pull it and call it a loss- the plants are huge but there is no head forming?¬† I keep saying I’m going to pull it- but then I give it another chance.¬† If I don’t see any sign of a head I’m pulling it next week and putting in carrots.¬†

We are on our second batch of lettuce- oh how I love fresh picked lettuce for our salads.  Right now my kick is fig and Gorgonzola salads with homemade balsamic vinaigrette- I can eat that for every meal. 

A happy surprise to find in the garden were 2 rogue tomatillo plants that popped up (obviously from last years crop).  I love tomatillo salsa.

And everyday I check my tomato plants thinking there will be a miracle and I’ll wake to find all the plants with ripened tomatoes (even though the day before there were none even remotely ready!) I can dream can’t I.¬† I keep reminding myself before I know it I’ll be up to my eyeballs in tomatoes and overwhelmed!

The strawberries keep coming too, not in gross numbers- just a nice steady pace.

So that’s the skinny on the garden right now.

This is what we harvested in one afternoon in the garden last week. 

The basket of lettuce, yielded 3 gallon size ziplock bags full- so salads every day.¬† I think we are coming to the end of the lettuce, some is bolting due to the heat- we’ll have to pull and replant.¬† The chard keeps coming.¬† We sauteed the chard and some onions and added the fresh cilantro and made some yummy quesadillas that evening.¬†

The season has begun and I’ve been bitten by the bug…… I’ve gotten those first lucscious tastes of fresh veggies from MY garden, and I want more.¬† My mouth salivates as I envision sinking my teeth into the first warm, sun ripend tomato off the vine, with the juices dripping down my chin…….. ohhhhhh I can’t wait!

I hope all you gardener’s out there are happily harvesting your first fruits and veggies of the season with the anticipation of what’s to come.¬† Happy eatin’!