Dang it! I left the lid to the coldframe up the other day and the wind came up while I was gone and broke the lid. I mean it must of really come up cause it broke one of the 1/4″ plexiglass panels in it. Plexi isn’t so easy to break.
Rabbits don't need to sneak in with an 8 inch gap!
Anyways it also torqued the frame as well because now there is an eight inch gap in the corner where the wood frame was forced apart. Great, now the rabbits can walk in. I have to rebuild the lid and somehow pull the wood together on the frame with the dirt inside and re-screw it back together. Way more work than I have time for. And the arugula is coming up inside. Bummer…
Whole left side of coldframe broke-ARRRGH!
On the good side, look at my view from the house in the bottom photo!
Arugula or Rocket as it sometimes called is another one of my favorite spring greens that has a very short season unless you are growing it in winter! It is a popular Mediterranean green especially amongst the Italians. Luckily it grows fast and you can harvest it between 35- 40 days. It is one of the earliest spring crops we can grow. It is high in Vitamin A and C and low in calories.
Plant 1/4 inch deep like mesclun, broadcast it out in a little patch, nice and thick and thin it out (eating the thinnings) until they are about 3-4 inches apart. You can sow every 2-3 weeks for a continuous supply until it gets too hot for it. Pick off the outer leaves and let it grow back out from the center until it bolts in late spring. After that either pull it up or let it go to seed. You can also grow it in a pot.
I love its tangy almost peppery flavor and nothing is better than a salad made of arugula with blue cheese crumbles, caramelized walnuts and raisins with a balsamic vinegarette.
Here are some varieties you might want to try – just google their name and you should come up with the seed company.
Rocket-standard type-I tried rocket but it’s too skinny for me and I don’t feel like I get much when I eat it.
Apollo-I like this variety-bigger leaves, less stem
Here is my shade cloth over the lettuce patch. I also am going to put bird netting around the raised bed to keep out the rabbits. This morning I thinned again (third time) my romaine (now 5 inches tall) and butter lettuce about 5 inches tall). I want to see if I get some big heads of romaine and butter heads but it is a lot of work always thinning them to make room for them to grow. I am hoping the butter lettuce won’t bolt with the warm weather.
looper and lettuce damage
closeup of lettuce looper
I also found some small loopers (caterpillars) on some of the lettuce so I will spray with BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) today-an organic pesticide that won’t hurt bees or birds or humans and is specific to gets rid of caterpillars that do damage on our crops. Notice the holes in the lettuce and the little dark spots are frasse (poop). So if you see frasse- look for the loopers.
A few of the arugula are bolting but it bolts with the first bit of warm weather. I’m giving everything that bolts and the ends with roots to the chickens. I also picked Provencal lettuce mesclun which is wonderful and easy. I didn’t have to thin but one time. That plus you just cut off the tops of the lettuces and waa laa-instant salad. It should comeback 3 or more times. I am putting a shade cloth over the bed as I had some friends tell me they were able to have lettuce in the summer with it over them.
I also tried a new spinach for me called Bordeaux which I am very disappointed with. Very small leaves are sorta wimpy-not much there so I’m going to try some summer type of spinach that supposedly won’t bolt and have bigger more succulent leaves. Gonna try Tyee spinach. Suppose to resist bolting in the heat.
Lastly, pick your lettuce first thing in the morning after watering it the night before. To clean lettuce after I thin it, I pull it out roots and all and cut off the leaves above the the dirt and roots-less rinsing. Then in the kitchen I put it in some bowls of clean water to move debris and use a salad spinner to remove excess water. I put the lettuce into a zip loc freezer bag with a damp paper towel folded up. This help keep it from getting limp.
Here is the inside lettuce bowl I started on April 4th-now 32 days later.
Lettuce bowl 32 days later on May 16
The outside lettuce patch is looking real good too. Peas aren’t flowering yet and cauliflower is still little but arugula and lettuces are ready for a real salad! Chickens won’t get these anymore. Looks like I won’t have to buy greens for awhile. Gonna make me a salad tonight!