Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What's in Your Salad?

I've planted seven vegetable beds in the "edible landscape" that is our front lawn here in the District of Columbia.

The salad greens are now in their full glory, two months after planting.

One bed contains 15 different varieties of leaf lettuces with wonderful names such as Red Galactic, Lola Rossa, Pablo Batavian and Red Deer Tongue. Together, they'd make a great rock band, I think.

At one corner of the house we have an accidental science experiment underway. As the sun crosses the sky, the corner of the house casts a shadow across a long bed containing mizuna and two different kinds of mustard greens. If you look down the row of greens, you can see very clearly how the leading edge of the greens--the edge that gets perhaps a half-hour more sun each day--has grown taller than the rest. In fact, the size of the greens continues to shrink--shorter and shorter--toward the trailing edge, a clear indicator of just how important sunlight is to the growing process.

These lettuces are what gardeners affectionately call "cut and come again," meaning you can snip some of the leaves for tonight's dinner, and they will grow back to be snipped again at a later time.

The colors range from a pale, seafoam kind of green to the most intense purple. Some of the lettuces have distinctive markings, such as the Spotted Lettuce, or swirls of greens, yellows and reds turning almost blue, such as the Prizehead.

Here are a few images.


cookiecrumb said...

We just bought a new house with room for gardening, so I'm following your progress avidly.
Question: Our real estate agent asked me what my take would be on front-yard vegetable gardening. I answered that it's a perfectly logical thing to do, if you keep it nice looking... but I worried 1) about veggie theft, and more so about 2) what the neighbors would think.
Is it rude to plant vegetables in the front yard? I'm not accusing you of being rude. I just don't have a good take on this. Yours look lush and beautiful.
Discussion, please, class.

Ed Bruske said...

Cookiecrumb, think of this less as "vegetable gardening" and more in terms of "edible landscaping." This is especially pertinent for you because of your intereste in eating locally and living sustainable. Lawns are a huge waste, and what better to replace them with than something you can eat.

We can get into the details of what to plant later, but suffice to say there are some gorgeous vegetables out there that add color and textural interest to your garden. You can offset them with a tasteful selection of perennials. You might want to consider constructing raised beds with asthetically pleasing types of woods and trellising for beans, melons, clematis, etc.

By all means, do not dismiss vegetables out of hand. I think you can do this in ways that will be immensely interesting for the neighbors. Is there any way you can have a goat or two to trim around the edges? (Just kidding...)

deliberately said...

We're in the same boat. Our backyard is bursting with life, but nothing is quite yet ready to harvest. Look forward to tracking your progress. . .

Ed Bruske said...

deliberately, not only are we way ready for harvest, but now I'm thinking I could have planted earlier because many of my greens are showing signs of bolting. They're sending up flower stems, getting ready to make seed.

Ed Bruske said...

cookicrumb, here's a possible reference for you. Rosalind Creasy is a pretty reliable source, and the book is only $9 used at Amazon.


cookiecrumb said...

Very good. Thanks, Ed.
BTW, the front yard at this "new" place (built in 1963) is all rocks and shrubs. At some point the previous owners ripped out the grass (good) and paved it with white stones (kitschy, weed control, OK-looking, space holder until we decide what to do next).
Meanwhile, we are systematically scraping the grass off the backyard and putting in tomatoes. Arugula goes in this weekend.
So sorry about the bolting! Damn global warming.

Ed Bruske said...

Cookiecrumb, be sure to give the tomatoes plenty of room for good air circulation...