Friday, April 17, 2009

First Thinning of Gamble Garden (April 10)

I discovered this fabric last year, and it did a great job protecting my "gamble garden" from cold weather, then I used it to cover my peas until they were past the stage rabbits love them.  I liked it so well, I got 2 more, 1 for across the street.

There were no instructions except for this:

On April 10, I did the first thinning of the circle bed I planted February 23.

Almost everything came up, but not many radishes made it.  The bachelor buttons love the extra warmth of the cover, but the false sunflower, in the lower right, looks like it didn't get enough sun.  If you click to enlarge, you'll see the spinach and red lettuce. (The dandelion was harvested for my salad.  Oh, and the little plant on the far right may be the plant someone, maybe Tina, wondered whether was a flower or a weed.)

Here's a row ready to be thinned:

At this stage, I pull a few plants out at a time, then pull the roots off, and put the rest in a bowl I keep in the shade.

My goal is for there to be some space between each plant.  When they grow and are touching again, I pick individual plants to keep them from touching, so they'll have room to get a good size.  

This is kale that came from the dead looking stem from last year's kale.  It is good to eat, but when it gets larger, it will go to seed.  I added some of its leaves to my bowl.

I also added some violet leaves.

I didn't get a lot, so it wouldn't be cost effective if I was paying myself for the time spent doing the thinning, if just being out there wasn't a joy in itself.  Isn't it pretty?  (The larger red leaves are from a Swiss chard that survived the winter, and I forgot to include the photo of.)

As I was heading toward the house, I saw the chives, and got my herb scissors to cut up a couple stems into the thinnings.

Here is a detailed system I like to use to clean and store lettuce.  First, put water in the bowl of lettuce or greens and swish it around gently to get dirt off.

This is what was left in the bowl after lifting the greens out:

Next, pick up handfuls and rinse them to make sure they are clean.

Put the greens where they can drain.  Shake the drainer a bit to get some if the water off.  They can stay there a few minutes if you have the time.  You can blot them with a towel at this point.  

Place on a clean kitchen or bath towel, fold it over them, and gently blot.  I used to use a salad spinner, but the leaves got bruised.  If anyone has tips on using a spinner, or loves theirs, please let us know in a comment.  I'm thinking about trying it again.

After this, I normally put a white paper towel in a plastic bag with a zip closure, put the lettuce/greens in, add another paper towel, then close it.  It keeps well about 4 or 5 days in the veggie drawer in the refrigerator, but we try to give away the bags if we get more than 2 days behind in eating them.  This salad was eaten right away, but when the leaves are larger, I like to refrigerate them awhile, because they get crisper.

It looks like I have done a good job of succession planting, most of which has no covering. We are expecting rain, so the plants just peeking through the dirt, should be taking off and growing.  I love this time of year!

If you have other methods, or if I missed some detail or other (LOL) please say so.


  1. I came here to see your GBBD post--you have so much in bloom. But I'm intrigued by your cover--do you use it to protect the plants from the cold?

    Seeing you thin your lettuce makes me think I'd better get with it and plant some!

  2. Hi Rose! Yes, last year, I was worried because we had some some very cold nights, like we have this year. My lettuce was already up before I used it, but I'm thinking it wasn't up yet when I put it on this year. Oh, I just noticed there are more instructions on the back of the paper from the grass cover. It says it is university tested to retain warmth and moisture and vents excess heat, which increases and speeds germination. It prevents frost damage allowing for a longer growing season. It also prevents critter damage. Maybe I should go edit my post to include that. And, you better go plant some lettuce and radishes!

  3. The salad greens looks yummy...

  4. Salad looks yum! Not so the dirty ole water though.

  5. That looks delicious! Did I read right that you added violet leaves? What do they taste like?

  6. I think I need to get myself a cover like that. I didn't do too well with my indoor seed starting I tried inside. My lamp was so bright it burned the poor little seedling up. I felt awful!

  7. Picking out every plant and thinning them require lots of patience and I see you're loaded with it! Cool! I can see your bowl is filled with yummy-yums! Shall I dig in, please? Where's the spoon?

  8. Looks like some serious gardening.
    Home grown has to be the best !
    Your method is working for I wouldn't stop now.

  9. Thanks for the comments, friends. We had a good rain today, and now, the serious thinning and salad eating can begin!

    Catherine, violet flowers are also edible. The leaves and flowers are mild tasting. It's hard to describe, but in a mix of things, they are not real noticeable. If anything, they tone down the arugula and other more bitter salad ingredients.

  10. A beautiful looking salad and I appreciate all the tips for keeping the leaves fresh and crisp. Glad you are getting rain today - we are expecting more tomorrow. Maybe we will be rid of some of the pine pollen that is covering the porch and car!

  11. Your salad looks good,we had some out of our garden last week too.
    Prayers, Bo


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