Posts Tagged ‘salad greens’

Hurray for the Volunteers!

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Volunteer Salad Greens

Volunteer Salad Greens

 We’re getting lots of volunteer lettuces and other salad greens this year.  I’m transplanting some to the pea bed and elsewhere, but most we are just harvesting the whole plant where they are growing.

I talked about letting salad greens bolt and go to seed in a post last September: http://blog.cobrahead.com/2012/09/10/simple-seed-saving/

In addition to some lettuce seed which I saved and scattered  throughout the garlic bed, a lot of the seed has sprouted in and around where the plants were growing last year.

Greens Transplanted Into the Pea Bed

Greens Transplanted Into the Pea Bed

I’m moving many of them to the pea bed.  The lettuce really does well sheltered by the peas.

Volunteer Lettuce Ready to Harvest

Volunteer Lettuce Ready to Harvest

We’re just harvesting little clumps like this for immediate consumption.

Volunteers are free and I’m making them and saved seed an integral part of my garden.

Interplanting Garlic with Greens

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

Here are two videos about garlic and inter-planting garlic with salad greens.

garlic and cilantro

I plant garlic here in southern Wisconsin in late October.  I plant the cloves along the top of ridges of a raised bed that has been shaped into three ridges (or two troughs).  After I plant the garlic I mulch it deeply with straw.

I plant the garlic on the tops of ridges in my dense clay soil because garlic likes to be well drained. I’m minimizing the chance of the garlic getting water-logged then frozen as it goes through our often very cold winters under its insulating straw blanket.

In spring, I pull back the straw and inter-plant salad greens of all types along the edges of the ridges and in the troughs.  The greens are somewhat protected from the sun by the garlic flags.  The inter-planting gets me two crops out of the bed at the same time.

The first video shows how I use both CobraHead tools to help me remove the matted down straw.  The second video explains the inter-planting process.

More on Heat Mats

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Flat of Salad Greens

Geoff posted last week about the heat mat set up he is using to start some pepper plants, here.  I use a heat mat and grow-lights as well to start peppers, tomatoes, and other vegetable seedlings that need a jump start, and I’ve also found the set up useful to give some bottom heat to my sweet potato starts well ahead of the time I need to get my peppers started.  Since I don’t need very much space for the sweet potatoes, I use the mat and lights to grow some salad greens, too.

I’ve already talked a couple of times about the heat mat/grow-light setup I use.  Here I talk about the set-up, in general, and here about using the lights for salad green production.  In this post I’ll explain an inexpensive temperature control I use to regulate the heat output of the mat.

I’m just about ready to start harvesting some greens as you can see in the top picture.  I’ve got two flats that are putting out very good growth.  I’ve got a third flat into which I seeded a lot of cilantro and basil.  They are sprouting, but I think I got the soil in that flat a little too hot and dry early into the process and most of the germination has been toward the edges of the flat. There is a little bit of new sprouting showing up, so we’ll see how it turns out.

The heat mat I have has no thermostat. That appears to be the case for many of the heat mats being sold.  If they do have a thermostat, they are factory pre-set and not controllable.   They sell temperature controlling shut off devices with soil probes to control the on/off heat of the mats.  I just saw one in a catalog for $40.00.  I invested $7.99 at my local Ace hardware for a light timer and it works quite well in lieu of a thermostat.  I’m maintaining a temperature at the bottom of the flats at between 75 and 80 degrees by using the timer shut off mechanism to turn on the heat mat for 30 minutes every two hours.

Inexpensive Light Timer

Setting the timer is very simple.  There are 48 on/off buttons – down is on, up is off. So having every fourth one down has the mat cooking one fourth of the time and idle for an hour and a half out of each two hour period.  When I first started up the system I let it get too hot and I think I fried some of the cilantro and basil seeds.  As the cilantro is a free saved seed, it’s not too a great loss.

Thermometer, Sweet Potatoes, and Salad Greens

I’ve got the heat for the system balanced out, and now it’s very stable.  In addition to the three flats, I have a couple of sweet potatoes in jars that are putting out a lot of root and just starting to put out some leaf buds.  Hopefully, I’ll get enough slips for this year’s planting

About the end of February, I’ll move any greens that are left into the sun room inside my south facing glass patio doors.  I’ll start three new flats with onions, leeks, and shallots, and when those sprout, I’ll move them into the sun room and use the heat mat and grow-lights to start peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, some of my cucurbits, and whatever else I can fit in.

Greens Under Glass

Friday, October 21st, 2011

We’ve been harvesting salad greens from the cold frame I built earlier this year.  I talk about the building of the cold frame here.

I seeded the frame about a month ago with a mix of mustard, spinach, arugula, several Asian greens and some lettuces.  As the picture shows, germination was excellent.

Until now, when we are finally getting some very cool nights, the main issue has been to remember to open up the glass lid totally during the day.  The daytime temperatures under the glass easily climbed to over 100 degrees F on sunny days, even with outside temperatures in the 60’s.  With the lid propped open but still above the frame, the temperatures got really hot, so I’ve been opening the frame totally during the day and leaving it open about an inch during the night.

Now that we are approaching freezing temperatures at night, I’m closing the frame totally each evening.  So far, the greens are beautiful and my salad mix rivals the best high priced mixes we see in the markets.

As the greens are really thick in the frame, I’ve found the easiest harvesting method is to snip off the entire plant with kitchen scissors just where the stem is coming out of the ground.  I just look for the greens that are the tallest, grab a leaf to get some tension on the plant and cut it off.

Here’s a picture of a salad made with greens, shredded yellow and orange carrots and sliced red onions.  Dressed with a garlicky balsamic dressing, it is delicious.  If all goes as hoped for, we’ll be eating salads like this with our cold frame greens well into December.