Thursday, June 9, 2011

Welcome to My Garden...Lettuce Eat Some Salad

Welcome to my garden.  Let me introduce you.
 I should really start at the beginning.  Back in April I told Paul that the only thing I wanted for our 30th Wedding Anniversary was for him to build me a square foot garden.  I had been reading about square foot gardens all winter long and was thoroughly intrigued.  I've grown herbs the past few years and last year I grew some monster tomato plants, but I hadn't had a real honest to goodness vegetable garden for a long, long time.  Having quite a bit of shade in the yard, I wanted to start small with just one or two 4x4 frames.  Paul ended up building 3 frames and I have some large containers as well filled with the sacred "Mel's Mix".  So on April 10th, Paul created my square foot garden.
He also made a compost bin for me....what a guy!  He really knows the way to my heart!
I spent the next two weeks planning my garden on graph paper.  I planned cool weather crops, succession crops, I planned and I re-planned.  I bought enough seeds to plant a few acres.  In the end, I planted some seeds but I also had to resort to planting some purchased seedlings.  I planted lettuce, arugula, peas, spinach, radish, carrot and beet seeds directly in the soil on April 23.  On May 1st, I planted some cool weather seedlings...broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
I had some other more tender seedlings that I planted in pots and protected them in the garage a night.
The trusty old radio flyer came in handy to wheel the tender plants in and out of the garage.
On May 8th I planted my celery, peppers, eggplant, parsley, and oregano, sage and mint.  I planted my Sweet Millions Tomatoes in whiskey barrels.   I was able to winter over my rosemary and thyme.  Tarragon has been self-sowing the past 4 years and I think my chives have been growing for 20 years...which was when I had my last vegetable garden.  I also threw some cilantro and dill seeds into some pots to have a nice variety of herbs.
This is a picture taken on May 8th of one of my tomato plants....Wait until you see it on June 7th!!!
On May 15th the harvesting began.  I was so proud of my first radish.... I have not had store-bought lettuce since and we eat a salad almost every day.
And in just one week, the first flowers appeared on my tomato plants.  I'm thinking this Mel's Mix has magical powers!

By Memorial Day the radishes, spinach and half of the arugula had been harvested.  This made room for some cucumbers, zucchini, and bush beans.  I also started some more lettuce, spinach and arugula seeds hoping to get another crop before it gets too hot.  So here is my garden on June 7th.
Sweet peas
Growing Strong
My Gnomes protect my herbs in my recycled Weber Grill
Remember what these tomatoes looked like a month ago?  They are going to be monsters!!!!  I swear you can actually see them growing!
These puppies are now loaded with tomatoes and flowers.

I'd love to hear if you have any gardening tips for me.  Are you familiar with square foot gardening?  I have to say, I am thoroughly impressed with it so's so orderly and efficient.  Perfect for anyone with a touch of OCD!   I'll give you garden updates throughout the growing season.   It only seems fitting that I use some of these greens now.

Salad Greens, Pear, and Goat Cheese with a Fresh Herb Vinaigrette
Serves 2
  • 5 ounces of fresh salad greens - I used 3 kinds of baby lettuce, arugula, and baby spinach
  • 2 ounces of crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 ripe pear, peeled and sliced
  • Herb Vinaigrette
Herb Vinaigrette:
Yields about a cup of dressing

  • 1/4 cup of fresh herbs - I use a combination of parsley, basil, tarragon, and chives.  Use whatever herbs you like.
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • a pinch of salt
Wash salad greens and spin dry.
Prepare Vinaigrette

  • Remove herb leaves from stems- tender stems are ok to leave attached.  Rough cut. Place in bowl of mini food processor.
  • Smash garlic, place in processer bowl.
  • Place dijon mustard in processor bowl.
  • Add lemon juice, white wine vinegar.
  • Pulse processor 2 or 3 times to chop herbs.
  • Add olive oil, salt and pepper.  Process for 5-10 seconds. Dressing will emulsify.  

  • Dress salad greens with vinaigrette to taste.  Store left over vinaigrette in refrigerate.  Use leftover dressing over the next 3 or 4 days. 
  • Peel pear, cut in half, and remove core.  Slice pear into long slices.
  • Arrange dressed greens onto individual salad plate.
  • Arrange sliced pear on greens.
  • Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese.
  • Drizzle pear with dressing
  • Garnish if desired.

By the way... I think Paul felt bad about giving me some dirt and garden frames for our 30th  Anniversary (even though that is really what I wanted) so for my birthday a few weeks later I got this...
Bear with me..., I'm on a learning curve.


  1. Dianne....beautiful job!DRV

  2. I did square foot gardening a bunch of years ago. It was fun to plan, but kind of a lot of work to manage, if I remember correctly. Around that time the deer and rabbits got pretty thick in our area, and we found that we were doing an awful lot of garden work just to keep the critters in produce. We tried doing container gardening on our patio, thinking that they wouldn't come that close tot he house. But when we saw deer on the patio chomping on our tomato plants we gave up.
    Now we live further out, but in a new development. We thought we'd work on our garden here. We started with bulbs our first fall. The following summer we got a puppy, who spent the next few months digging up and eating all of our tulips and daffodils.
    I think he may be over that (well, sort of). We have a few things growing in the back again. But we have 2 fig trees in the front, and one of them is just LOADED with small figs. We've already harvested 8 figs this season. You may need to teach me to can (finally).