I prefer to start my lettuce in the cold frame, although it can be planted in the open ground with other early vegetables, because I get a crop of tender, young lettuce when I transplant in April. By that time, the young plants are 3 to 5-inches high, and pinching off the largest leaves gives me several fine bowlfuls of tasty salad greens.
~ Both cabbage and lettuce may be started in the cold frame. Flats, boxes, cel-packs, or even flower pots with drainage holes can be used too for starting these salad plants in an enclosed porch which is neither too hot or too cold.
Later, in the salad garden I transplant 9-plants to the square-foot, using a sharpened 2-inch peg 6-inches long for making planting holes and for tamping down. After planting a section, 3 to 5-square feet, I soak the soil.
But first, I turn the soil of the salad garden either with the spading fork or tiller. Next I drive small, one-foot stakes along both sides and across the ends of each area at one-foot intervals. Strings attached to the stakes are run across and the length of the garden to mark the 12-by-12-inch areas. At each intersection, I plant an onion set about 2-inches deep. Cabbages and cucumbers are planted in the center row of each space, while Swiss chard; very productive from early spring to late fall, is planted in the outer row to give it more space and avoid over-crowding, thinned 7 to 10 inches in the row. Sometimes I pull the leaves and use them for mulch when we are unable to keep up with their heavy production.
I prefer baby head cabbage for the congested growing salad garden. The heads are small and firm, about 5-inches across, of superb quality, and highly resistant to bursting. More than that, they seem to have a higher resistance to the cabbage worms.
Tomatoes and sweet peppers are set out in the corner areas opposite f' each other at the ends of each garden. Plant the beets, carrots and turnips in a shallow furrow about one-inch deep made with a stick or hand trowel. Space the beet seed about 1/2-inch apart and cover with a 1/2-inch of soil. Thin your young plants gradually to 4 or 5-inch spacing and let your thinning process be your harvest, as the tops of beets, carrots and turnips are high in nutritional value.
Radishes, a quick-maturing crop, may be planted with carrots, and in special rows with your beets and carrots. Being long, White Icicle is more productive than the more colorful varieties. Radishes may also be plant afall crop. and some may wish to try the Black Spanish at that time.
Mid-June, when the lettuce is harvested, is the time to plant second crop beets and carrots for fall use. Before planting, I like to work some fine-compost and 4-6-4 organic fertilizer into the soil. To insure seed germination, I take a garden hose with a nozzle to control the flow and flood the furrows. After the seeds are dropped into the furrow, I cover them with a half-inch of fine-compost,
Where it is possible to mulch, spread as much straw, hay or green lawn clippings as you can. During the hot, dry summer weather remember that a least 2-inches of water per week will be needed, and that proper thinning of the plants will help to insure a more bountiful crop.
After the last harvest has been made in late fall, prepare your salad garden for the winter and next year's crop. I do this by first cleaning the garden, tilling under all residues, after which I apply kelp meal, compost, and greensand, all this should be worked into the soil with a spading fork or tiller.
Finally, full of anticipation for a new crop, I rake the mulch from the soil about 3 to 5-weeks before planting time so sun and spring winds may dry it for an early beginning to a new gardening year.
Copyright · 1995