Monday, June 16, 2014

Lettuce Admire My Lettuce

Is it just me, or do you also think this is a beautiful lettuce?  Not that all lettuce isn't beautiful, because they are, but I think this lettuce was particularly attractive.   Fully formed, free of insect holes, vibrant spring green with a delicate pink blush at the leaf tips, all of which contrasted nicely with the blue-green cabbage leaves behind it.  Overall, the lettuce had a pleasingly symmetric and nearly indecent deep bodied shape.  My most beautiful lettuce ever!  I admired it daily as it was growing, and worried that I was going to leave it until it was old and bitter because I couldn't bring myself to pick it.  I took it's photo so many times that I could make an album of it's adolescence.  

Last week I sacrificed the lettuce for salad and sandwiches for Jamie and myself.  It was delicious.  Still tender and crisp with the perfect amount of bitter.  To accompany the meal, we drank our last bottle of home brew wheat beer, bottled over a year ago and saved for a special occasion.    

Behind the beautiful lettuce, and overflowing my raised beds, is a tangle of vegetation that includes sweet peas, leaf lettuce, onions, tomato, cabbage (or broccoli, I can't remember which), a squash vine, some kale, parsley, and, of course, weeds.  If I push aside the cabbage leaves, I find a surprise...

What is it?  Could it be...?

Ta-DA!  A real life fennel!  There are three of them, and they look as though they are growing into lovely fennel bulbs.  I've been picking some of the frilly leaves to add to salads, mixed drinks, and just to taste, but for some reason I was surprised to find that the fennel was actually growing into a fennel.  I think my surprise comes from planting fennel it the past, and never managing to grow it long enough to form a bulb.  Apparently it likes rich soil and doesn't mind being crammed in a box with way too many other plants.  

Speaking of way to many plants, this raised bed is also overflowing with thyme, oregano, a volunteer squash, sugar snap peas, volunteer tomato, dill, cilantro, chamomile, and a diversity of wild flowers weeds.  

The peas are packed in so tight that I get to create my own yoga positions as I harvest the ones in the center.  I refer to leaning over the chicken wire, and reaching through the tomato cages to pluck peas with my finger tips as the unsupported Leaning Pea Pose.  It's good for the hamstrings.  

Believe it or not, but I took this picture after I weeded and thinned this bed.  It's still supporting a nice population of weeds, but despite the over crowded conditions, I'm getting beet tops, kohlrabi, chard, and carrot tops for smoothies daily.  There's even a tomato and a marigold buried in there somewhere. 

Somehow, one of my onion beds became an onion, tomato, sweet pea, and parsley bed.  I always tell myself that I would have as much success, or even more success, if I gave each plant it's fair share of space.  I just can't help it.  I like to crowd them.  

Not everything is growing like it should though.  Remember my cool bean seeds, the heirlooms gifted to me that I planted on my teepee?  Well, of the forty beans I planted, only one germinated.  Just one!  Not cool, beans.  

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