Thursday, May 14, 2009

Garden Porn

I love gardening, but I can't really call myself a gardener...or if I could, it would only be to call myself The World's Laziest Gardener.

Here's my gardening gestalt: I'm too stressed for time to do a lot of soil prep, to plan out a garden in neat rows and hills, to start plants in little pots in the kitchen, to put everything into the garden in one weekend, to (god forbid) build raised beds and do this PROPERLY. And I'm too cheap to buy compost, mulch, or (half the time) seeds. (We have a plan to start doing our own composting, Em and I, but I refuse to pay $100 for a compost bin, and can't figure out how to build one of my own. I need a Composting for Dummies guide.)

Instead, I do everything sort of catch as catch can. I buy a packet of carrot seeds, then forget to plant them, and then--when I've just pulled out a bunch of lettuce heads (you'll see what I mean here later) and there are big gaping holes in the ground--I'll remember I have that packet from a year ago, and MAYBE the seeds are still good, and I'll just dump them into the holes and over 'em up. Sometimes they grow. Sometimes they don't.

Or I'll buy a single cilantro or basil plant, transplant it, let it flower and go to seed, and then save half the seeds in a baggie and literally toss the rest onto the ground to see if any of them will 'take.'

Repeat similar strategies for green beans, zucchini, blackberries, spinach, tomatoes, and especially lettuce. Also herbs and onions and garlic and mint. And other stuff.

As a general rule, this laziness--or maybe it would be better to call it scatteredness? stupidity? insanity?--works for me, in the sense that most years, SOMETHING yummy grows in my garden. Sometimes MANY yummy things, sometimes only one or two yummy things.

Last summer, a few lettuce heads sprung up in odd places in my garden. They were among the items I hadn't expected to do well, since all I'd done was let the lettuce I'd grown the previous year bolt, then shook the seeds out from the flowers onto the ground. Half the time I didn't even cover them. And yet, several months later came these heads of romaine lettuce. Again I let them bolt at the end of the season, and again I shook the seeds around the garden.

But I decided that wasn't enough; I wasn't sure that the lettuce would 'volunteer' to grow a third year through that sort of benign neglect. So, I also bought a packet of seeds, and at some point during the mid-winter, put those seeds in the fairly barren ground in a few areas.

Well...not only did those seeds take, but my volunteer seeds also seem to have taken, because this spring, I had a garden FULL of lettuce. I'm talking easily 60, 70 heads of lettuce. (The spinach I planted at the same time didn't do quite as well, but there was enough for a few spinach-based dinners.) There's no way I can eat that much lettuce, so it's kind of waste, though I have been bringing in bags and bags of lettuce to the office and letting people take as much as they want home.

But I was really proud of my lettuce, because it was so lush. And pretty. And there was so MUCH of it. It made me feel less like a lazy loser of a gardener--as I tend to on those years when, say, a single shriveled green pepper grows, or when I can't get a SINGLE CUCUMBER plant to survive, no matter how many I plant. And so I took pictures. Lots of pictures. And now I'm going to make you look at them, because I can. You're also required to ooh and aah over them, though I'm not sure how I'm going to police that...Just know that I'm watching you.

(See what I mean about the spinach? Not quite as robust as my lettuces! Or should that be letti?)

(That's my previously prolific parsley to the left. I'm letting it go to seed in the hopes of getting another year's worth of herb out of my initial $1.15 expense. Yes, I am cheap.)

(So many ladybugs in my garden this year! I love me some ladybugs.)

10 comments:

goodfountain said...

ooooooh ahhhhhhh

i just can't tear my eyes away

Niksmom said...

Holy cow! That's some serious lettuce! Can you donate it to a food bank or soup kitchen? Or a shelter or home for unwed mothers or...or...or...

I know here in DE we're being asked to plant an extra row to dontate to food banks, etc.

Niksmom said...

Oops! Forgot to add:

OOOOHHHH!! AAAAHHHHHH!!! ;-)

TC said...

Niksmom! Why didn't I think of that??? I'm not sure how great it would be now, since a lot of it is starting to bolt/is a bit wilty, but I'll check and see if whatever I can still salvage would be useable for the food bank that my synagogue works with. GREAT idea! Thanks for reminding me.

midwestgreen said...

DH grinds up our extra lettuce in the food processor and freezes it (puts it in icecube trays then pops the cubes out and into a freezer bag) and makes lettuce pesto with it later (you can make pesto with so many things).

where do you live? You are soooo far ahead of us in the growing season - our lettuce leaves are about 2" tall.

wendy (IL)

TC said...

Lettuce pesto? What a great idea! The rest of the ingredients the same? (Garlic, olive oil, cheese? I can't do pine nuts; they upset my stomach for some odd reason.)

And I'm in SoCal...I'm ahead of EVERYONE's growing season in the US, all year long! My garden is never completely empty. Even in mid 'winter' I can grow herbs and such.

po said...

Georgia O'Keefe would be impressed with your porno photos :D

AB said...

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

Your grandmother use to have a victory garden. One year she decided to plant lettuce. They never became a head. They were one leaf here and one leaf there. It was delish but we didn't get that much. One year her radishes didn't bulb. Could never figure out what she did wrong.

Later on she planted roses! (G)

kristenspina said...

Wow. Oooooh aaaaaaah. That is some beautiful lettuce.

You California people are so lucky. My mom has herbs and vegies all year too. And roses. It kills me.

AB said...

PS- I forgot to say how wonderful your photos are. I know where you got your talent from. (G)