The light on the lettuce

Sun shining through lettuce leaves

[From 20 Apr 2016] The low-riding late afternoon sun shines through lettuce leaves, creating quite the vivid show of color. (This is also great light for revealing carpets of the tiniest emerging weeds that are otherwise easy to overlook or conveniently ignore—seeing so clearly what’s to come really motivates you to get weeding early.)

Making salad mix

Combining varieties of lettuce seed for salad mix

Adding a pinch (5g) of fairly pricey Rushmore (a beautifully deep-red oakleaf) to a batch of salad mix. This is the basic all-lettuce summer blend: seven varieties, selected mainly for color (greens to reds), texture (flat to frilly), and to some degree, seed cost (the price range of lettuce varieties is quite extreme). This inexpensive digital gram scale makes it easy to add relatively small quantities of certain varieties, and keep each batch consistent. Weigh out, shake up in bottle, ready to go. Here: 100g – that’s a lot of little lettuce!

Edible extras

Brassica flowers: edible!

Leftovers, really, as bok choi and mizuna make their way toward producing seed by putting out bursts of cheerful little flowers. Normally, these plants would be tilled under way before this stage, making way for a new seeding, but since the ground is still too wet to work where they are, we’ve left them in for a bit, to harvest and toss into salad mix at the market. The stems can get woody at this point, the farther down you go, snipping off the tops or only the petals will do the trick. Mildly flavorful, mainly for the color!

Transplanting…never twice the same!

Lettuce transplants in the greenhouse

[From 12 Apr 2016] Today’s transplants: Still steadily plugging in seedlings in the greenhouse, waiting for more ground to dry out. This round, lettuces (above) and bok choi (elsewhere). All this transplanting is pretty straightforward—taking the photo, I might wonder, “What’s the difference between these seedlings stuck in the ground, and any others…why bother posting the same thing over and over?” Well, I don’t literally ask myself that, but I can see how some folks may think that. There’s no good answer, it really is in the eye of the beholder.

On a tiny farm, where weather runs everything, you never know how little decisions will turn out, and how critically they may affect things. Decisions like, let’s put up this greenhouse in this wet-in-spring field that’s also slow to dry, and see what happens (because the alternatives are too expensive), and fix or work around any problems we may run into. In that greenhouse, THIS lettuce planting, in mucky ground,  in all-new conditions that may also in a few days get infernally hot and downright lettuce-unfriendly if we don’t finish the end-wall windows for ventilation before the temperature shoots up, is entirely different from every other lettuce transplanting. New story, ending unknown, let’s see how it turns out! It’s always something different… :)

Stack of lettuce

Harvested all-lettuce salad mic

Friday harvest and the main green going right now is LETTUCE, appearing as small leaf salad mix. We’re waiting to do new greenhouse seeding – it’s still way wet in there – but a bunch of lettuce transplants are already in, some bok choi, too. So the season’s ramping up and the weekly look around to see what the weather has delivered for market…begins!

Trimming parsley

Trimming parsley

Parsley, curly and flat-leaf, overflows its 72-cell plug sheet. Time to trim it back (again), so they still fit under the lights. To be unfussy and safe, a quick shear of only 2-3″ off the top literally takes a few seconds and does the trick. Snip-snip-snip-snip-snip! This is what you have to do when you start seedlings extra early, and then wait on the weather!

Weed ID-ing in the Digital Age

Weed ID app photo

Wormwood of some sort, this weed from the greenhouse, according to our best guess from a selection of possibilities offered up by the smart smartphone plant identification app I’ve been playing with/trying out. There are several such apps for Android: this one’s called Like That Garden—”See a plant, take a photo, and find out what it is – instantly!” It got the highest ratings, and is free, so I grabbed it.

Like the advertising says, it’s that simple to use. With the app, you take a snapshot of the mystery plant that’s saved as a low rez image (above) and sent off into the ether where it’s checked against a vast plant photo database, several possibilities soon return, with multiple images for each, and you pick the one most likely (I suppose in some cases, only one choice comes back, but so far, that hasn’t happened). The technology is all about advanced image recognition and visual searches, very…digital. Trying it out on a few plants, it’s worked quite well.

While this app is doing fine, I have a great (effective) weed book as well. Is the app a novelty toy, or a serious tiny farming tool? Or will the smartphone be accidentally dropped in a puddle and destroyed before we get a chance to decide? Only time will tell…