THE FUNNY FARMER: An astonishingly boring, painful, humorous and occasionally insightful approach to gardening and life as amom, a former psychotherapist, and apparently a life-long patient.


My name is Cherie and I live in Southern Maine with my husband and two young children. I have a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology and still have about 10k in remaining student loans to prove it. I left the field of practice three years ago, so this is not the place to be posting any suicide notes, okay? But if you want to hear about my garden and my gremlins, my pests and my problems, well then you just sit right down and read on!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

First Harvest

Now seriously, can you think of a more facile, more space efficient planting than salad greens?  I know there will be more competition in the coming months, but I am so pleased with my first harvest for so many reasons!

The first advantage is how easy it is to grow greens, lettuce,spinach, swiss chard, and so on.  You can use them if you want to, but threre is no real need for cell packs, heating pads, or grow lights.  Just toss those seeds right into the ground, water, and wait.  Now how easy is that?  Seriously? 

The planting requirements of salad greens, greens, and lettuce are relatively simple.  They are shade tolerant, so there are many places in my small yard/garden where they will thrive.  They are compact, so the yield per square footage is quite high.  You can plant them in containers on your deck.  I have even planted some in a flower box on my deck so I can just step outside for a few clippings when needed.  Though growing lettuce is very easy, Edward C. Smith in the Vegetable Gardener's Bible states that rapid growth is the tip to tastier lettuce. This can be accomplished by adding compost to the bed a week before planting the seeds and again to the surrounding soil about a week after germination.   Simple enough.

Another factor that pleases me about lettuce and greens is the cost benefit.  When you purchase these from the grocery store, you are not only paying for the commodity, but the picking, packaging, storing, and transporting as well.  However if I continue sow every couple of weeks (aka succession planting), I will not purchase any greens at the grocery store until October.  At roughly $8 per pound for organic lettuce, spinach, and greens, it's truly a no brainer.  At about $4 a packet, my growing plans this year include:   two types of lettuce mixes for salads, swiss chard, baby spinach, and a mix than can be used for both salads and braising.  That's a total of $20 in seeds for a variety of greens that will feed our family, gift to friends, and appear at pot-lucks for six months.  The other 26 weeks I typically purchase lettuce or greens every week, so during those months I will probably spend at least a couple hundred dollars.  One day I will build a cold-frame which will extend my season even more.

The environmental impact of purchasing your lettuce and greens from the grocery store also bears mention.  Although the plastic boxes used for purchased lettuce makes the produce last longer, plastic is still plastic.  and whatever I can do to minimize its use makes me very happy.  I have saved a few of these boxes to store my own greens as well as to fill and give away when I have too much.  There is also adverse environmntal impact through things like transportation, the manufuacturing of trucks, the building and maintenance of warehouses and grocery stores, and the use of fossil fuels.  Growing your own lettuce alone will not put an end to these problems, but the more one can do to lessen your environmental footprint, the better.  From a broader socio-political perspective, one might also consider the use of immigrant workers as well as US dependence of foreign oil.

Health considerations are very noteworthy.  Aside from the beneficial nutrients found in lettuce and greens, they are very easy to grow orgranically so you are can be sure that you are not consuming pesticides.  Because there is less time from garden to table, fewer nutrients are lost durng storage and transportation.  And once again, there has been another E-Coli outbreak reported in four states:  Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee.  As of a couple of days ago, there were 23 confirmed illnesses, 12 hospitalizations, and 3 instancs of kidney failure. 

On a more pleasant note, people are unnecessarily impressed when you host a meal and serve a salad made from your own greens.  Or you show up to a pot-luck with a salad and casually mention that you just picked it from your garden.  There is definitely a feel-good component to growing your own and feeding your friends and family.  If plant in succession, you never have to run to the store at the last minute for some salad greens.  You will always have a supply on hand to snip from.

Here are my first snippings of the season!

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