Saturday, June 16, 2018

Heat Wave

When you are a gardener, you have to keep an eye on the weather.  You have to measure rain fall and keep an eye out for storms.  You have to know what temperatures are coming.  And in June, when the lettuce is at it's peak you have to watch for heat waves.  Because in a day or two all of that sweet tender lettuce could bolt and turn dry and bitter and end up in the compost pile.

So when I see a 10 degree jump in temperatures coming I get nervous and start picking lettuce.  Not all of it would go bad at once, but it can be tiresome sitting out in the garden tasting a leaf from each plant deciding which one comes into the house and which one gets thrown on the compost pile.

So here is how I extend the lettuce season.  I have a 50% shade cloth covering the west side of the main lettuce bed to block the afternoon sun.

I am thinning the rows cutting the smaller plants not the larger ones.  The larger, more likely to be bitter plants get to stay and shade the others and look pretty.

I still had some "seedling" size plants in pots that are behind in development from the first second and third plantings.  I put those in the space where I pulled over-mature plants this week.

I have these pots in almost full shade.  They are actually larger than the garden row plants but still sweet.

And then there is the weekly large harvest.  I go out at dawn on a cool morning, preferably after a rain, and pick as much lettuce as I think we can use in a week or two.  I put this all in the sink full of cold water and rinse three times.  Once the sink is full, I pull the lettuce out into a large bowl and drain the sink. 

 Three sink loads and you will see all the garden grit is gone and you have sorted out all of the maple seeds and damaged leaves and sleepy ladybugs.  Then I run it through the lettuce spinner and pack it into a 2.5 gallon zip bag for the fridge.  The strawberries are in full swing now and the peas will be ready to pick in about a week, so I am making a lot of salads topped with fresh strawberries and last year's peas to get the freezer emptied out and ready to go.

I think it will be another good year for apples.  The second tree has set only three apples.  Which is two more than usual.  I swear if I don't get at least one apple from it this year I am pulling it out and replacing it with another tree.

My pots of carrots are looking beautiful.  I tried them in pots so they would have deep soft soil to grow long and straight in.  I can always tell when they grow down and hit the hardpan under my beds because they blunt off.

The slicing cucumbers are finally on the move and the Pickle Bed is also growing.  It's exciting after so many weeks to go out in the morning and see that things are bigger than yesterday.  My tomato babies seem to double in size each day.  They will probably begin to ripen mid-July.

The Pickle Bed with pickling cucumbers and dill

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