Another crop that can be planted early is lettuce. This is actually my husband, Bob’s, favorite so I plant it early and often.
Lettuce is best when it is young and tender. As it ages, it gets bitter. So I get a mix (there are many, but I especially like Johnny’s Allstar Lettuce Mix) and I plant it every ten to fourteen days.
I prepare the soil by adding my usual mix of additives (kelp meal, azomite powder and old compost or manure) then fluffing up the bed by either turning it or loosening it with a broadfork.
I generally designate an entire bed to lettuce but plant it in several stages. I prepare the whole bed, but I only plant about 1/5th of it at a time. I take out a half-bucket of the soil, then broadcast the seeds. By this, I mean that I throw them everywhere—as opposed to in rows. I then cover them with the soil in the bucket and I mark how far I have planted so I know where to begin next time. I water them well right away. This lets the “lettuce angels” know that I am prepared to take good care of them while they grow.
Lettuce comes up fairly quickly. They often need to be thinned before they are big enough to eat, but the chickens love the tiny samples. As they get bigger, we eat the thinnings. They are so tender and sweet!
I continue to pick entire plants making room for the ones left to grow.
After ten to fourteen days, I plant another patch. I continue to plant the bed until it is fully planted. By this time, the first lettuce is either gone or bitter so I pull up what is left and plant it again in the same spot. This way, we have lettuce all summer long and into the fall. It can be covered with some row cover and it will continue to thrive into the fall.
I just recently perfected a dressing recipe which I will share here with you:
¼ cup vinegar
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon powdered yellow mustard
Few shakes garlic powder
Small tablespoon maple syrup or honey
Salt to taste
I mix this up and set it aside.
Then, I take one raw egg yolk (from our girls—only add this if you know your source is 100% healthy) and beat it in a measuring cup. To this, I add several minced anchovies (I mince them quite small). Stirring the previous mixture, I add in about 1/3 of it and mix it all well. Yum!
Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens.
Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer!
Celeste's new book on living lightly on the Earth is due out September 25, 2014.