Saturday, February 18, 2012

Late Winter Salad Greens

A few weeks into the new year, it was time to sow fresh seeds in pots for salads. I use long outdoor planters bought year end, locally and fill them with sterilized Fafard Agro potting mix from Upper Canada. When the seeds are broadcast, they get a light covering of worm castings, although generally, I don't cover lettuce seeds too much. It's important to keep the seeds moist so I also loosely put a layer of cling film over all this. If I were a more organized person, there would be three or four planters on the go, but, two have produced and more greens will be started today. The summerhouse is about 12 degrees Celsius, and the baby lettuce, once germinated, are placed under a grow light there. I have had those old grow lights for years; an initial investment of about twenty dollars each unit, they have grown thousands of dollars in plants.
Under the Grow Lights-There is More to Life than Increasing it's speed!
Along with "Cooks Blend" of greens, we are snipping early scallions and Asian Greens; complimented with overwintered herbs like mint. This makes for awesome sandwiches! Delightful how the black seeds stick to the tips of the germinated scallions.
Outside in the raised bed... mizuna, mache, spinach, arugula and even baby garlic bulbs have been harvested but they will soon be removed and new life will begin there. Robbed a few shiny red mini chard leaves as well, but lost about half of the mother plants trying to overwinter in the raised bed. Just a test...but feel I would have had more success if they were in the center of the raised bed instead of next to the wall. I can get a trowel fully down in the center, on a sunny afternoon when about five degrees outside. I found that, rather remarkable. Nice to smell the soil when the cover is lifted.
The raised beds were introduced to their new seed packets the other day...excitement!! Only one order has arrived...sooo not organized this year!! These seed packets are from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and include, Atomic Red Carrot, Green Leaf Gailan-Chinese Kale, Extra Dwarf Pak Choy, Michihli Cabbage, Mizuna Green, Monstrueux De Virofly Spinach and Red Round Turnip. Some of these are recommended in the book Year Round-Vegetable Gardener mentioned in my previous post.

Are your seed orders trickling in now?


  1. I've got all the seeds, just need to clear out the greenhouse!! Lovely to see all that growing, it is mouthwatering.
    Good to hear that the bowls arrived ok

  2. All our seeds have now arrived and Like you I am harvesting salad greens from under my grow light indoors.

  3. Thank you Brenda, you answered all of my lettuce growing questions!!

  4. Brenda, when you take the top off your raised bed do you have to worry about losing the heat inside? I have this crazy image in my head of trying to pick as quickly as possible to get the lid back on. I didn't plan on many seeds this year and somehow have managed to end up with almost double what I wanted. Now I'm busy trying to reimagine the space with the help of Niki's book advice on cool and hot plantings so I can stuff everything in.

  5. GZ, how wonderful to have a proper greenhouse. Our building doesn't have as much sun as one but it does pretty well, with the help of the grow lights. As for the perfectly beautiful tenmoku pots, absolutely adore them. Thankyou sincerely. are a gardengirl after my own heart ;-)

    Erin, blush... Well THE BOOK will help us both!

    Marguerite...well you see, I thought the same thing, so there is a window when it is best to pick...and for me it is about one thirtyish, when the sun is high, and most especially on a day that is not miserable, icy, windy, horrible etc. You are right about picking as quickly as possible and no, I do not open it fully (just propped enough), unless like today and the day the photos were taken, it is a lovely day. The cold frame was fully open for a number of hours as everything in there is very cold tolerant. Having a cold frame, a summerhouse to start plants under grow lights (basement will do) and the low hoop house, changed my life re extending the season. Niki's book is full of great advice and she is so approachable with her blog, and responding to questions. She will be at Canada Blooms you know.

  6. I am so impressed with your determination to garden in such a climate, I know the motivation is food but you would have supermarkets nearby that would supply out of season vegetables from warmer climates. I know such food does not taste the same as home grown food. That is why I grow vegetables but we are in a temperate zone and can grow lettuce outdoors all year round, in fact I think of it as a winter veg as it does not like our heat in summer. We do get some good frosts in winter but no snow.

  7. Just planted some salad leaves in the greenhouse and wouldn't you just know it the overnight temperature falls to freezing. I'm sure they'll survive. Like you we've had some good crops grown under a grow light kept indoors through winter.

  8. Beautiful and very yummy looking photos Brenda!! Looks like you and your family are having some tasty salads this winter ... such a treat!


  9. JB, thanks so much for visiting my blog. Love your lush gardens. Thank you for your kind words also. Sadly, our grocery store lettuce is imported from the USA and doesn't actually say where in the USA on the package, so could be California, thousands of miles away or perhaps Florida. Tomatoes the same, from Mexico usually. So much seems to be imported this time of year, so just growing a few leaves of lettuce lifts my spirit as well as makse me feel connected to the earth on these bitter cold days of frozen landscape. I envy you being able to grow lettuce all year around outdoors. To some degree we can also, under cold frames and in unheated greenhouses perfectly sited. ps..your new puppy is adorable.

    Greenfingers41...pleased to hear you are also enjoying starting your own salad leaves. It is amazing what one can grow under lights through the winter..the miracle of seed.

    Michele, yes, tasty salads and more to come! Replanting some in the raised bed/cold frame soon..first WARM day ;-)

  10. Hello Brenda (and what a beautiful name you have)- I am enjoying reading your blog, the art of the vegetable garden has always eluded is something I know I should be good at, but for one reason or another, things always get a little crazy out there in the "potager". Thank you for the perfect does of humour and gold fashioned advice - I need it and hope to learn a lot from you!

    Have a beautiful day!

  11. hi Brenda, You say you are disorganized, but you seem plenty organized to me. I have yet to order any seeds, let alone plant them! It was interesting to read about your raised beds. I have been thinking about a way to turn a couple of my raised beds into cold frames. It is time to crack open Niki's book and get reading!

  12. I managed to keep salad leaves going in the greenhouse all winter - they are hardier than they look aren't they. Have just sown my first batch for this year but will definitely be trying all sorts of baby greens to add to the mix.

  13. Hi - that's rather a nice lot of salad you have there. I hope you don't mind if I put a link to your post on my salad challenge round up for February?

    I've been having an email chat with Niki, who tells me you feature in her fab book and that you don't live that far from each other :) I don't know if you know that you also 'visit' one of my good friends who lives close by, Views From a Bike Shed?

    It's a small world :)