Shapes of the Summer Solstice Kitchen Garden

In these long days around the summer solstice, pole beans and winter squash, pea vines and garlic stalks are lengthening themselves to match the days, stretching and twining, sending out tendrils, twirling and looping into fantastic shapes.  Responding to sun and warmth and longer days, these vegetables have begun their serious growth.  We’ve made it past the uncertain weather of spring and summer is really here.  It’s a lovely time to wander in the garden.

pole beans climbing 1

Winter squash vines 1

On the sisal strings of the pole bean trellis, leaves are spreading open along the twining vines and will soon cover the entire structure.  White, pink and scarlet blossoms will join the green of the leaves before giving way to dangling pods.  Squash vines are reaching beyond the borders of their beds and will soon carpet both paths and beds with giant leaves, then blossoms in shades of white and yellow and finally swelling orbs of squash.

Peas are producing now, the first crunchy sugar snap pods ready to enjoy raw or sautéed. Their blossoms and climbing tendrils continue to grow upward, lovely to look at and also delicious to eat.  We’ll have more peas than we can keep up with so harvesting a few vines and blossoms and sautéing them along with the pods adds beauty and variety to dinner.  In another month we can do the same with squash blossoms and late vines.

Sugar snap pea vine:flowerAnd finally the garlic stalks rising above the soon-to-be harvested bulbs have been creating the most whimsical show of shapes in the early summer garden.  Called garlic scapes, these seed heads of hardneck garlic are not only a delight to observe, each one different from its neighbor, they are also a delicious garlicky treat.

Garlic scape groupSome cooks make a pesto from the raw scapes but we find the resulting sauce too garlic-hot.  Lightly steamed, though, the scapes are really delicious, like a sweetly garlic-flavored green bean.  We eat them alone as a side dish or mixed in with other spring vegetables, peas, carrots or turnips.  Last night, garlic scapes, peas and pea shoots mixed with pasta for a summer dinner.

Garlic scape, pea still life

Garlic scape and pea pasta

Looking ahead to July and August, the garlic will be harvested in the next few weeks, then the peas will wind down as the beans come in and the winter squash will take on colors of rich green and deep orange, but for now, in these days just after the solstice, we’ll enjoy the special beauty of the early summer kitchen garden.

In the Early June Kitchen Garden

Our spring and summer vegetables are off to a great start this year. The early June kitchen garden isn’t always this promising but we’ve had an exceptionally lovely spring, just enough rain and many warm, sunny days to encourage speedy seed germination and quick growth of transplants.  Even a travel schedule that had us away several times through April and May didn’t hold slow down the garden.

The bed of spring vegetables I planted April 30 is providing radishes, lettuce, chard and turnips with beets and carrots in the wings.  A second bed of these spring delights that I planted May 23rd will be producing in another few weeks, just as the first bed winds down.

Spring vegetable beds

The sugar snap peas seeded indoors March 3rd and set out March 14th have topped the trellis and are covered in white blossoms and the first few peas, both promising lots of sweet, crunchy pea flavor very soon.   I’ve hilled and mulched the potatoes and the earliest fingerlings have blossom buds forming.  Peas and potatoes will be a late June treat.  And in the onion bed the rows of sweetly pungent purplette spring onions are beginning to bulb.


Looking farther ahead to summer meals, tomato and pepper plants are blossoming and setting fruit and eggplant isn’t far behind.  Zucchini is putting on leaves and will soon outstrip this summer trio in size and production.  And beans and corn planted May 14th germinated quickly in our lovely warm spring, their leaves now spreading out and up. The first pole bean vines are reaching for their strings and the corn is on its way to knee high or higher by the Forth of July.

Tomato closeup cherry

Pepper closeup

Beans pole & bush

Corn closeup

I don’t know what weather is ahead for July and August but if summer continues the pattern set by spring, we have some glorious meals ahead.

Spring Planting

Through many years of experiment and observation, I’ve created a planting calendar for my kitchen garden, a monthly reminder of what to plant when.  This time of year, every week or two from early March through late May there are seeds to sow, usually in pots indoors but sometimes out in the garden, and growing plants to harden off and set out.

The onions I seeded indoors in early March went into a garden bed this past week, thin green shoots that will be robust spears by mid-summer, and the potatoes I greened up in late March went into the ground in late April, their sprouts buried in a shallow trench but promising vigorous above-ground growth in just a few weeks.

Onion planting

Potatoes in trenchThe sugar snap peas I planted in early March and set out in the garden ten days later are already over a foot tall and climbing in the bed next to the potatoes.  The tomatoes I seeded indoors on that same March day went into the greenhouse in early April and are thriving, almost ready to start training into the tall vines they will become by summer.  The eggplant and peppers started indoors in mid-March went into the greenhouse yesterday. They’re much smaller than their tomato cousins but will catch up soon.

Peppers, Eggplant, Tomatoes in GHAnd last week on the last day of April I planted seeds of radishes, chard, lettuce, carrots, beets, and turnips in a garden bed.  A few warm days and the radish sprouts will be showing followed soon by the first green of the other roots and greens.  As May warms and dries, I’ll plan beans, corn and squash and at the end of the month another bed of greens and roots.

There’s great pleasure in repeating these tasks every spring, planting seeds, watching for their germination, tending the growing plants, setting them out in their permanent spots. Coming regularly as they do each year makes them less a chore and more a part of the natural rhythm of the year, a link to the lengthening daylight and warming temperatures, the blossoms and leaves on fruit trees and shrubs, all signals of the welcome turn to spring and summer.

Early Spring Harvest

We were in Portland, Oregon earlier this month, timing our visit so that we could go to the Saturday Farmers Market. Even in early spring, this wonderful market inspires with a bounty of fresh vegetables.  A highlight for me was seeing bunches of kale, Brussels sprout and mustard flower bud tops at many of the stands, confirming that others enjoy these tasty spring offerings from the Brassica family as much as I do.  I was interested to see that several vendors called these flower buds raab, linking them to broccoli raab, the pungent green popular in Italian and Asian cooking.  Kale “raab” tends to be sweet while Brussels sprout “raab” is a bit more earthy and mustard “raab” deliciously spicy.

Raab PFM

Mustard Raab PFM

Raab PFM closeup

When we got home from our travels, I was happy to find all of these “raabs” in my kitchen garden. There was also asparagus ready to harvest and lots of perennial herbs, chives, new growth thyme, burgeoning mint and parsley, all welcome flavors of spring, all beautiful and all offering inspiration for this season’s meals.

A quick stir fry of mustard flower buds and asparagus created a lovely side dish.

Asparagus mustard top bouquet

Asparagus mustard raab saute

Another night, kale flower buds and asparagus became pizza toppings.

Asparagus kale top still life

Pizza kale top & asparagus

And on another night asparagus and herbs combined with last year’s frozen fava beans to make my favorite spring pilaf.

Asparagus, kale top, herbs in basket

Pilaf in pan

This time of year the landscape offers new shades of green each day and so do the contents of each day’s garden basket and each evening’s dinner. I’ve written about kale, Brussels sprout and mustard flower buds before, about asparagus and about fava beans but there’s pleasure in writing about them again just as there’s pleasure in finding them in the garden each spring and transforming them for the table.

An Old-Fashioned Cold Frame

Cold frame open 2014

We’ve had a cold frame against the south side of our garden shed for nearly twenty years.  Scott built it soon after he built the garden shed.  We hadn’t planned on making a cold frame but our observant and generous neighbor Bucky Lee noticed the empty space on the south side of the new shed and offered us two old, three-paneled wood and glass windows he didn’t need, saying that they would make a nice cold frame there.

They were just the right size, each 60 inches wide by 50 inches tall, wide enough to fit between the downspout on the west and the doorframe of the shed entry on the east and just the right height to fit up under the eaves when open.  Of course, these heavy old windows were just the start of a cold frame. Using their dimensions, Scott attached a ledger to the building 28 inches off the ground, built the sloping sidewalls, the long, low ten-inch-high front wall, added a support in the middle where the windows would meet when down, and finally attached the windows to the ledger with hinges that allow us to raise and lower them and added sturdy eyes to the window frames and hooks to the shed so we can latch them open.  Bricks work to prop the windows open when we want to provide just a little ventilation.

While Scott did the carpentry, I prepared the soil, removing sod, breaking up dirt, adding compost and raking the area level.  When the cold frame was done, it looked like it had always been there especially after we painted the frames green to match the shed windows.  The wood frames held up to the weather for the next five years before finally deteriorating to the point that we needed to replace them.  Using plexiglass and strips of wood, Scott made new, lighter covers that we’ve used ever since.

Perhaps because my father had a cold frame near the back door on the south side of our family home in Massachusetts, I’ve always thought of cold frames as old-fashioned structures, their glass tops and wood frames more permanent than today’s plastic covered tunnels and low hoop houses that can be moved from bed to bed as crops and seasons change. Attached to a building, cold frames cover the same plot of soil year after year.

My father used his cold frame only in the early spring to give a head start to plants like broccoli and tomatoes that he’d later transplant to the garden.  In the summer, my mother filled it with flowers.  Here in the temperate marine northwest however, I can use the cold frame in all seasons.  In fall, I plant it with greens, either seeds or starts, and they thrive there over the winter and into early spring.  Greens planted in mid-September are ready for December salads. This year’s arugula planted in mid-November has been giving us salads since mid-February.

Cold frame open:closed

Cold frame with Mustard:Arugula

In early spring, if we’ve eaten all the greens or if the greens are going to seed and are ready to pull out, I’ll plant an early crop of lettuces, salad radishes and spring turnips.  Or if the greens last into late spring, as this year’s arugula may, I’ll skip a spring planting.

In the summer, I’ve sometimes filled the cold frame with basil, leaving the plexiglass open and draping Reemay over the frame to protect the basil from sunburn.  Other summers, I’ve planted cucumbers or melons in the cold frame and their vines have sprawled up and over the sides. Even with the cover raised for the summer the south-facing space framed by the garden shed is warmed by the sun, so some years I’ve planted several varieties of indeterminate cherry tomatoes and Scott has tied them up in front of the windows. And some summers I’ve simply left the cold frame to a volunteer riot of nasturtiums.

Coldframe with tomatoes

Cold frame with nasturtiums

By fall, whatever crop has grown there in the summer is ready to pull and I once again plant greens for winter salads.

With several portable plastic cloches in the main garden, I’ll admit that I really don’t need a cold frame.  Winter salad greens, early spring vegetables and heat-loving summer plants all thrive in these other structures, but our cold frame is so beautiful in all seasons, so much a part of the permanent garden and so sweet a connection to the past that I’ll never give it up.

Two Years of Lopez Island Kitchen Gardens

Two years ago this month I started writing Lopez Island Kitchen Gardens blog.  Thank you all for your enthusiasm and encouragement as I’ve posted stories and pictures about what I’ve been doing in the garden and the kitchen.  Your responses online and in person have been one of the biggest pleasures of writing this blog.

When I began this blog I wasn’t sure where it would take me.  What would it be like to write regularly about gardening and cooking, two activities that have been constant pleasures in my life for years?  I’m pleased to say that this blog has turned out to be a very satisfying way both to stop and think about what I’m doing and to figure out how to share my experiences and discoveries.

Many of the posts I’ve written have given me the opportunity to focus on growing, harvesting and cooking a single vegetable.  Having an excuse to pull out gardening books and seed catalogs, old article files and new Internet resources has been a wonderful way to review and build on years of lessons taught by trial and error.  The pleasures have been the same in the kitchen, revisiting favorite recipes, techniques and cookbooks, experimenting with new ways to prepare vegetables, often inspired by current ideas from favorite cookbook authors and food columnists.  There are so many engaging food and garden writers.  It’s been a treat to make the time to read them regularly.

In addition to vegetables I’ve written about garden planning and about the infrastructure that underlies the garden.  Seed ordering, planting calendars and seed starting begin each gardening year and irrigation, mulch, bean and pea structures, bug and bird barriers and protection from cold, heat and wind all help the plants thrive.

Figuring out how to share what I’ve learned from experience and research has been satisfying too.  The question “What do I want people to learn?” is left over from my years as a teacher but it continues to help me focus, to select what’s important and let the rest go. Writing a first draft and revising and revising again until I’ve found what I really want to say are processes I deeply enjoy.  And then there are the photographs! WordPress makes it so easy to insert images into the text, color photographs to illustrate stories about a beautiful vegetable, delicious meal or piece of garden infrastructure.  From the beginning of this blog, my husband Scott has provided exquisite photos.  And yes, we do get to eat all the food he photographs.

Finally, I’ve discovered that writing this blog has been a way to think more about what it’s like to be in the kitchen garden and at the table in all of the seasons of the gardening year. As I reread two years of posts, I noticed how often I referred to light, to the gradually lengthening days of spring, the long days of summer sun, the early dark of fall and winter as background to the vegetables I was planting, harvesting or cooking.  Kale buds, asparagus spears, early lettuce welcome the growing light of spring, dinner plates full of fresh green and the beginning of a new planting season.  Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, green beans highlight long, warm days and evenings, summer dinners of sliced tomatoes, crisp peppers, caponata, sweet beans.  Root vegetables mark shortening days, harvesting in nearly dark late afternoons and sharing hearty dinners indoors, blinds drawn and candles illuminating the table. Looking back on these posts I’m also struck by how quickly the year in vegetables goes by.  But writing this blog has also slowed down the garden year, giving me the chance to notice and enjoy the vegetable markers of each subtle change.  I hope I’ve given you the same experience.


To make it easier to find posts on different topics, I’ve created new categories on the right hand side of the blog under the heading Browse by Subject.  Just click on Spring Vegetables, Summer Vegetables, Fall/Winter Vegetables, or Garden Planning and Infrastructure to find the posts on each of these topics.  WordPress also makes it easy to search the entire blog for specific topics.  Just type a topic into the Search box on the upper right hand side of the page above the garden photo and click the Return key.  Or just browse the blog by month.

Fabulous Fava Beans

The fava beans have been ripening over the past two weeks and I’ve been processing many pints for the freezer but I’ve also been mixing them with other vegetables of this early summer season, sugar snap peas, beets, cauliflower and mint.  Three new recipes have been hits and make me glad that there are lots of favas in the freezer.  Yes, fava beans take a while to prepare—shelling, blanching, pinching the skin off each bean—but these recipes are so quick they make up for the time spent preparing fabulous favas.

Fava beans prepared

The first is a pasta recipe from Melissa Clark and her Good Appetite column in the New York Times: Cacio e Pepe with Peas and Favas.  Clark adds shelled peas and shelled fava beans to the classic Italian preparation of cheese and black pepper on spaghetti.  Watch the video that’s part of her column to see how quick and easy this recipe is.  Coarsely ground black pepper toasts briefly in melted butter, a little of the pasta water added to this mixture turns it into a sauce, the cooked pasta and grated cheeses tossed into this sauce result in perfectly coated strands of spaghetti ready for the addition of peas and favas.  Instead of English peas I used sliced sugar snap peas because that’s what’s growing in my kitchen garden.  I served this dish with a salad of radicchio and beets, great flavors to go with the pasta.

Fava, cacio, pepe pasta

Fava, cacio, pepe pasta w: salad

The second is a salad, Golden Beets, Fava Beans and Mint, from Deborah Madison’s newest cookbook, Vegetable Literacy (2013).  Sweet golden beets and earthy bright green fava beans meld with slivered mint and thinly sliced salty cheese in lemon vinaigrette.  A feast for the eye and the tongue! Madison recommends Ricotta Salata cheese but I used Pecorino Romano, another dry, salty cheese, because that’s what I had.  Feta or goat cheese would be tasty too. Madison writes that she “adores fava beans prepared this way.”  I do too.

Fava beet salad

Golden Beets, Fava Beans and Mint

from Deborah Madison, Vegetable Literacy p. 351

serves 4

4-6 smallish golden beets or a mixture of golden and Chioggia beets

1-2 pounds fresh fava beans, in their pods

Slivered mint leaves plus a few small whole ones, a heaping tablespoon

Sea Salt

Ricotta salata cut into thin shards

Freshly ground black pepper

Lemon and shallot vinaigrette

Steam the beets until tender.  Rinse briefly to cool, then slip off skins and slice the beets into wedges.  Toss them with a little vinaigrette.

Shuck the fava beans.  Drop them into boiling water for about a minute, then drain and drop them into a pan of cold water to cool. Pinch off the skins and moisten the beans with a little of the vinaigrette.

Toss the beets with the favas and mint leaves.  Taste for salt, and, if dry, add a little more vinaigrette.  Heap them onto a platter.  Put  the cheese in the bowl and toss it with the remaining vinaigrette and season with pepper and salt, tuck into the vegetables and serve.

The third is a variation on Nigel Slater’s Asparagus, Fava Bean and Mint Pilaf from his cookbook Tender: A Cook and His Vegetable Patch (2009).  I love this pilaf and love experimenting with it by adding other vegetables.  Basmati rice cooks in a skillet slicked with melted butter flavored with green cardamom pods, black peppercorns, a cinnamon stick, whole cloves and cumin seeds.  The vegetables go in just before the rice is done.  This time I added cauliflower I’d roasted in oil and curry powder and sliced sugar snap peas along with the favas and served yogurt mint sauce and pear chutney on the side.  There were no leftovers.

Favas in pilaf

A Pilaf of Asparagus, Fava Beans, and Mint

from Nigel Slater, Tender: A Cook and his Vegetable Patch, p. 32

enough for 2

a couple of handfuls of shelled fava beans

a couple of handfuls
of thin asparagus spears

2/3 cup white basmati rice

4 tablespoons butter

3 bay leaves

6 very lightly crushed green cardamom pods

6 black peppercorns

a cinnamon stick

2 or 3 cloves

a small pinch cumin seeds 

a couple of thyme sprigs

4 thin green onions

3 or 4 sprigs parsley

Wash the rice three times in cold water, moving the grains around with your fingers. Cover with warm water, add a teaspoon of salt, and set aside for a good hour.

Cook the fava beans in deep, lightly salted boiling water for four minutes, until almost tender, then drain and slip off skins. Trim the asparagus and cut it into short lengths. Boil or steam for three minutes, then drain.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the bay leaves, cardamom pods, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, cloves, cumin seeds, and sprigs of thyme. Stir them in the butter for a minute or two, until the fragrance wafts up. Drain the rice and add it to the warmed spices. Cover with about 1/4 inch (1cm) of water and bring to a boil. Season with salt, cover, and decrease the heat to simmer.

Finely slice the green onions. Chop the parsley.

After five minutes, remove the lid and gently fold in the asparagus, fava beans, green onions, and parsley. Replace the lid and continue cooking for five or six minutes, until the rice is tender but has some bite to it. All the water should have been absorbed. Leave, with the lid on but the heat off for two or three minutes. Remove the lid, add a tablespoon of butter if you wish, check the seasoning, and fluff gently with a fork. Serve with the yogurt sauce below.

Yogurt sauce:
Stir 2 tablespoons of chopped mint, a little salt, and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into 3/4 cup (200g) thick, but not strained, yogurt. You could add a small clove of crushed garlic too. Spoon over the pilaf at the table. 

Carrots: Selecting Varieties, Growing, Harvesting

Carrots grow year-round in my kitchen garden.  Perhaps that’s why I don’t look forward to them with the quite same anticipation I have for, say, asparagus or peas in the spring or the first frosted kale in late fall. Still, what other vegetable has the complex sweetness of a carrot? And carrots have preparations that distinguish them throughout the seasons. In spring and summer, they show up as salads, raw or marinated. In fall and winter, softly caramelized carrots are part of a roasted vegetable platter or slowly braised with meat they are part of a stew.

Carrots in Scapece

Carrots and B sprouts roastedBut carrots haven’t always been such an easy presence in my kitchen garden. My first attempts to grow them when I moved to the northwest over thirty years ago were disappointing both in germination rate and in flavor and it took me a while to sort out what wasn’t working.

For germination, I finally succeeded by using the suggestion in Steve Solomon’s Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades to mix carrot seeds into fine compost and distribute this mixture along the row. For a five-foot long row in my garden, I thoroughly mix a generous eighth of a teaspoon of carrot seeds into a half-gallon container of compost and spread the resulting mixture in a shallow, three-inch wide depression patting it down with a little more compost.  With regular watering and a covering of Reemay, the seeds germinate in a week or two in their soft compost bed and the seedlings are usually spaced far enough apart to minimize the need for thinning.

Carrots growing 1

For flavor, I eventually figured out why my carrots sometimes tasted bitter and even soapy.  It’s the terpenoids!  In a 1993 article in National Gardening Magazine, Shepherd Ogden explained that sugars and a class of compounds called terpenoids determine flavor in carrots.  As carrots grow, terpenoids develop first and create a resinous flavor in carrots.  Sugars develop later and balance out the terpenoids to create the unique carroty flavor. But if carrots are pulled before sugars develop, the terpenoids dominate resulting in those bitter, soapy flavors I’d tasted in some of my carrots. Carrots can look ready, full and orange, but Ogden writes: “It is only when the sugars have built up that we get the full flavor of a first-class carrot, which can take an additional week or two depending on soil moisture and the weather.”

Once I figured out how to plant them and when to harvest them, the next project was to find carrot varieties that tasted really good.  The Nantes varieties are especially sweet and I tried lots of them: Scarlet Nantes, Bolero, Merida, Nelson, Yaya and the eventual winner Mokum described in the Territorial Seed catalog as “still the finest fresh-eating carrot we know.” It’s the only carrot I grow now, even for over-wintering.  I probably should branch out and try some others but for now, Mokum is the one.

Carrots in mulch

Carrots basket close-upMokum is an orange carrot but carrots do come in other colors.  John Navazio, a Senior Scientist for the Organic Seed Alliance and a Plant Breeding and Seed Specialist for Washington State University Extension wrote an inspiring article  for the National Gardening Association describing the best of the non-orange carrots and their health benefits. And in her wonderful new book, Vegetable Literacy (2013) Deborah Madison suggests more varieties of non-orange carrots. Yellowstone and Amarillo are two yellows; Dragon, Atomic Red and Cosmic Purple are purple with orange flesh; White Satin, Lunar White and White Belgian are white-fleshed carrots.  Even more tempting, her recipes for “Ivory Carrot Soup with a fine dice of Orange Carrots” and “Carrot Almond Cake” made with yellow carrots  may be what it takes get me to add carrots of another color to my favorite Mokum.

Carrot colors PFMaine

Happy Summer!

Basket of veg 6:21Here’s what I harvested from the kitchen garden on the first day of summer: Snow Crown cauliflower, Purplette onions, Kestrel and Touchstone Beets and Oasis turnips.  The rounded cauliflower surrounded by the red, yellow, white and purple globes looked like a vegetable solar system.  I couldn’t resist asking for a photo before cooking them all.  Then we celebrated the Solstice with a feast of roasted vegetables.  Happy summer!

Platter of veg 6:21

And for anyone curious about when I planted each of these vegetables: I started the cauliflower indoors February 20th and set it out March 25th; onions indoors March 1st and set out April 18th; beets directed seeded April 22nd and turnips direct seeded May 22nd.

Lettuce Seed Mixes

Lettuce mix close-up 2I really like lettuce seed mixes, those packets that contain seeds of lots of different colors and shapes of lettuce.  I’ve been planting them each spring for the past five or six years and I’m hooked.  I’m not sure what took me so long.  I used to pour over the lettuce section of seed catalogs, reading descriptions of each variety, admiring the pictures, trying to select a green and a red, a ruffled and a smooth, loose leaves and crunchy heads and all the best flavors.  That’s a lot of seed packets and they translated into lots of lettuce, more than I really needed.

I’d gotten free gift packets of lettuce mixes over the years, most often with my Territorial Seeds order, but I’d never planted them, unreasonably biased toward my selections.  Then in an open-minded moment I planted a row.  The seeds were a range of whites and browns and the leaves that came up were a lovely array of dark and light greens and reds.  As they grew, each leaf revealed its own distinct shape.  Each time I checked the row there was another surprise.

Lettuce mix small row

As the leaves got big enough to add to a salad, I started thinning the row, gently pulling a selection of colors and textures and leaving the rest.  They grew bigger, I did more thinning, made salads of bigger leaves, and the thinning/growing sequence continued until the last leaves standing had formed full heads, each one almost a salad by itself.  The whole process was so much fun.  And there was none of the waste that sometimes happened when I planted all the varieties I used to order.

Lettuce mix big row

Another part of the fun was figuring out just what varieties I was harvesting. Territorial Seeds has several lettuce mixes including London Springs, the mix that started me on this path.  It includes Red Sails, Flashy Trout’s Back, Outredgeous, Hyper Red Rumple, and Bullet. I identified the named varieties from the catalog pictures and guessed about others.  The description of another of Territorial’s mixes, Garden Heirloom Blend, contains names as well as details: “Redder Ruffled Oaks, a loose-leaf with red on green oak-shaped leaves; Devils Tongue, a romaine with green leaves overlaid in deep red; and Speckles, a tight bibb-like butterhead with lime green leaves splashed with bright red and brown.”  Yet another of Territorial’s mixes, Wild Garden Lettuce, sounds very fun though identifying each variety would be a challenge.  “This mix is a vast assortment of literally dozens of varieties, including selections of lettuce that remain unnamed and not available anywhere else other than in this unique mix. If you discover a certain selection that you are especially fond of, let a few plants go to seed, and save your own. Bred by Frank Morton, Gathering Together Farm.” I want to try it.

Lettuce mix in salad bowl

Lettuce grown from these mixes makes beautiful and delicious spring salads, combinations of colors and textures and subtly different flavors.  Maybe I’ll find one variety in these mixes that I just have to have more of and will buy a single pack of that seed, but for now lettuce mixes work for me.