When I started my raised bed garden I wasn’t sure how much food I needed to grow but I knew what I wanted to grow and how I wanted to start. I knew that I needed to start small and reasonable so that I could feel successful.
I bought an awesome assemble-yourself kit from Greene’s for a 2 foot by 8 foot plot. In the end, I’ve spilled over into large pots as well, but its all still very reasonable. I actually wish I had more space, but that’s perfect because it keeps me motivated.
Here’s a snapshot of our garden before we harvested the leafy greens last week. Complete with stylish re-purposed puppy gate soon to be upgraded to a proper critter guard!
From left to right we have: Mustard Greens, Romaine Lettuce, Butter Leaf Lettuce, Carrots, Bunching Green Onions, Jalapeños, Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Onions, Basil, Squash, Cilantro, Cucumbers
Only a few months in and I would only do a few things the same way again. I have lots of druthers. But mostly I am excited that I’m learning so much about raised bed garden planning already.
Regarding what I’ve learned about lettuce… I would grow more. This first year, I wanted to plant a little of everything so that I could learn about a larger number of vegetables rather than learn a lot about a few. Nevertheless, I am immensely surprised by the fact that six lettuce plants are not enough for two people!
Of course it all depends all on your family’s habits. For small side salads and sandwich fixings alone I think six lettuce plants would be terribly sufficient, if not too much. However, Brian and I got pretty excited once our romaine and butter leaf lettuce started to get pretty big so we planned a salad night! We fixed everything for entree sized club salads: chicken, bacon, eggs, carrots, green onions, cherry tomatoes and on!
We read how to harvest so that the plant continues to grow – select the outermost leaves, snap off a few inches above the base and leave the center most leaves or “crowns” to continue to grow.
We plucked as much as we were comfortable harvesting, being sure not to leave the remaining plants too small. We wanted a steady source of lettuce and leaving too few leaves would mean slower re-growth, you know…photosynthesis and all. We were surprised after all the damage we did, that we obviously didn’t have enough lettuce to make two entree salads. Fortunately, I had some green leaf lettuce and spinach in the fridge and supplemented our harvest. I doubled the amount of greens in our salad with the extra stuff I had on hand.
So, if we make salad-from-the-garden night a “thing,” then I think we are going to need significantly more lettuce and salad greens. Double, perhaps!
For the fall, when I expand the existing garden with two more raised bed plots, I’m going to add a row of three spinach plants and three red leaf lettuce plants. This’ll be 12 plants for us to pick from for our entree dinner salads. Not to mention it will add a little variety to our leafy greens to bring in some new lettuce varieties.
The butter leaf and romaine were pretty flat and once they were washed, dried and cut. They stuck to each other and didn’t make for a very fluffy salad. The green leaf lettuce with all of its leafy frills really brought some body to the group. I think I’d like to grow a similar variety so that the salad looks more like a fresh salad than that pre-cut, pre-washed stuff you slide out of a bag from the store.