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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Week 7 & 8

Rain and weeds have kept me busy for the better part of the past two weeks. The rain has passed, but the weeds are still taunting me at each corner of the vegetable garden.
I figured it would be helpful to see a run down of what it looks like before the mesclun mix lands into my bowl. Note: I trim the mesclun mix down to a height of 2 inches and it keeps coming back like a bad haunting.

Most of the time, I am able to wash the lettuce greens right after I cut them, but it is best to cut in the coolest times of the day. If you cut it in the middle of the day, it goes limp and looks pitiful. I learned quickly after getting a late start in the garden last weekend. My lovely wife suggested putting the lettuce trimmings in cold water and to leave it in the refrigerator. "Botta bing botta boom" it works! However, some lettuce had some discoloration and began to wither away, but most made a comeback. I put all of the greens in a bowl with water and took a handful at a time and added it to the pot with water to wash off dirt, critters, and anything else. I kept one of my buckets (Foldger's plastic coffee cans work great) handy so that I could re-purpose the not so good bits of lettuce in my compost bin.
I put the lettuce in a hard plastic container and separated two servings of salad with a paper towel to help soak up extra moisture after letting the lettuce dry on towels for a few minutes.
I have read that you can keep lettuce fresh and crisp in the refrigerator between 3 to 10 days depending on the variety of lettuce.
My compost is slowly building up to a nice pile of black gold. I use trimmings from plants, coffee grounds, egg shells, paper, cardboard, fruit scraps, and and earthworms to keep it productive. I can't wait to use this for next year's veggies or the fall plants.
The strawberries are in full swing and really kicked into high gear the past two days. I have been cutting and freezing them as they have been ripening. If you can't find the chickens or my son, look no further than the patch of strawberry plants on the outskirts of the vegetable garden. It is like watching the Hunger Games for strawberries. 
I have been using the strawberries along with some feta cheese to dress freshly cut mesclun greens. Add some grilled chicken breast and a fruity vinaigrette and now you have my attention. What a beautiful and tasty combination! Wish I had a photo of that salad I ate today, but sadly it is gone...
I planted some morning glories that my mother got for my birthday and they are beginning to show themselves. There are two pots on both sides of a wooden arbor and my hope is that they will grow up alongside an already established vine to add some color and beauty in the backyard. 
Quick Vegetable Update
Broccoli (back) and Kale (front)
Black Seeded Simpson (left), Silvestra (middle), Romaine (right)
Picklebush Cucumber
Hybrid Picnic Squash
Carrots (left), Buttercrunch lettuce (right)
Early Peas Blooming

They are so beautiful!
Potatoes and Onions (on both sides of potatoes, but hard to see)
Bush Beans (Mellow Yellow-front, Bush Blue Lake 47-middle, Bush Blue Lake 274-back)
The ladies free ranging. I have a special place in my heart for the these lumps of feathers.
I love free things, especially when they serve a good purpose. To help with weed control, I found someone giving away pine mulch. So, I loaded up my car with buckets and plastic sheets to haul as much of it home as possible. This is what it looks like when you make do with what you have and use your car like a truck. I heard once that people are most creative when they have less options.
I can honestly say that the smell of pine was overwhelmingly nauseating. Not sure if I will do this again. Yuck...

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