First Harvest

Salad anyone?

I invited a friend over for lunch today and decided that a spring salad would be ideal fare. I bought some greens from the grocery, intending to supplement them with a few from my garden. However, when I visited my veggies this morning, I discovered I had more than enough to create two lovely salads built from my fresh greens alone. That’s the large plastic bowl that I used to hold my green treasures.

And here’s what the bed of greens looked like before I began harvesting leaves:

I can attest that they tasted even better than they look. Nothing compares to the tenderness of just-picked greens. Here’s a closer look:

Red Cross Lettuce

Red Cross is a red butterhead lettuce variety. Isn’t it gorgeous? I love red lettuces; I swear they taste better than green ones. Although, I must say that the Coastal Star leaves we ate were also magnificent. Coastal Star is a green romaine lettuce. The dark green leaves in the above photo belong to Emu spinach, a smooth leaf type.

I bought seeds of all three varieties from Johnny’s Selected Seeds — my source for most of my veggie seeds. These two lettuces are supposed to have better heat resistance than most varieties. I’ll let you know when they begin to bolt and go bitter on me. For sure, they are perfect now.

You may recall that I started the greens in this bed in my greenhouse over a month ago and transplanted them about two weeks ago. I pronounce this process a success. Never have I harvested salad-worthy greens this early. All I had to do was wash off the record pollen deluge before serving them.

Yes, the yellow haze of pine pollen dominates the landscape. Every breeze releases yellow clouds from tall Loblolly Pines. Although pine pollen is too large to exacerbate allergies, it is still uncomfortable crunching under eyelids and sneaking into nasal passages. And its arrival is two or three weeks ahead of schedule, thanks to the continuing record warmth.

Spring flowers are undeterred by the trees’ reproductive enthusiasm, as evidenced by this lovely group of tulips. I lost track of the variety name years ago. Unlike most tulips, these have returned and bloomed many years now. I think they set their little corner of my front garden on fire.

Happy Spring, everyone. Here’s hoping significant rains settle the yellow plague of pollen for all of us soon!

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  1. #1 by David Williams, Summerland, BC, Canada on March 22, 2012 - 9:23 pm

    Hi Catherine:
    I serendipitously came across your comment on heat hardy lettuce, and wanted to suggest you try Sierra. A couple of summers back one of the growers at Penticton Farmers Market had Sierra for sale all summer, long after all our lettuce had bolted. We have hot dry summers, often in the 90s. I noticed that Southern Exposure Seed Exchange list Sierra. Good luck with your peas – I was looking for info on Sugar Sprint peas when I happened on your column.

    • #2 by piedmontgardener on March 23, 2012 - 4:46 am

      Welcome, David. Thanks for the tip about Sierra lettuce. I think I tried it a few years back. But, in fairness, I think that was our summer of record drought and heat when we had more than 30 days with temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. Perhaps I should give it another chance.

      I’ll be sure to report on the progress of my Sugar Sprints. They are growing taller every day, albeit more slowly than I’d like.

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