Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Mini Farm




The mini-farm is doing its thing, with baby peas (which are my favourite of all baby vegetables. Irresistibly cute) and lettuces mostly. Posy and I were planting out carrot seeds a month or so ago, because I was trying to use up all the old seed packets in my stash. These were way past their plant-by date, and none germinated, so I planted lettuce over the top. Then last week, a lone carrot seedling popped up, so in the tub above I am growing lettuce, peas and one carrot. It is hardly self sufficiency, although I am pretty close to self-sufficient in lettuce. I only have to buy the odd one when there is a planting gap due to vagueness on my part. I have worked out that we need two large pots of lettuce going at one time to keep us in salads, three in Winter, so I rotate greens among all my large pots, lettuce, parsley, baby spinach, peas, all year round, and keep all the pots topped up with compost and well-fed with seaweed extract and fish emulsion.

I love the profligacy of lettuce. I always let the most luscious looking lettuce bolt to seed, then sprinkle the seeds amongst all the pots, then thin by eating them in salads. Fresh seed has an incredible germination rate compared to saved or bought seed, and there are often hundreds of tiny ones popping up all over, in the garden, between paving stones. Like baby clothes, I am always amazed that there is still a market for seeds. There must be billions of pieces of hardly worn newborn baby clothes stashed in cupboards all over the world. I think there should be a moratorium on their manufacture for a few years until they are all worn out. Similarly, seeds ripen and blow about for free by the million billion, there for the taking. It would be criminal for me to buy new ones when every season I could theoretically collect and replant about a thousand lettuce plants. Sometimes I am tempted beyond what I can bear at the nursery though. Like baby clothes, fat little seedlings are so adorable. That is why it is safer for me just not to go shopping. I'll go sprinkle some more seeds around the garden..

3 comments:

Michele @ The Hills Are Alive...... said...

silly question - when you are picking your lettuce I gather you take the whole plant out or are you just cutting off/picking the leaves?

Michele @ The Hills Are Alive...... said...

and how long from seeding lettuce to being large enough to harvest?

What lettuce would you reccomend as a good started for someone new to the game? Was looking at butter lettuce cos and rocket today your thoughts on ease/success of growing these?

Jo said...

Hi Michelle, no questions are silly. Gardening can be tricky! I mostly plant non-hearting lettuce, which means it opens out as it grows, and you pick it leaf by leaf. Hearting lettuces, like iceberg, have to be picked whole, and are harder to grow.

It depends on the weather how long to harvest. Maybe eight weeks or so, less if you just pick a few leaves at a time. Butter lettuce and cos would be great to start, and rocket grows like a weed, so excellent! Water letuce every day, and foliar feed with Seasol and fish emulsion (mixed together, often sold as Power Feed in Aus) every two weeks, and it will be fabulous. Start right now before it gets too cold. Good luck!

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