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ALISON JENKINS: Beginner gardener rebuilds after lettuce loss in rural P.E.I.

Beginner gardener proudly presents the harvest.
Beginner gardener proudly presents the harvest. - Alison Jenkins

Hi again!

I planted a tiny indoor garden on March 26 and it has exploded into a salad of epic proportions.

Last time I wrote about separating the lettuce plants to let them spread out - well it worked!

May 3 - Harvest!

Snipped the largest lettuce, mizuna, spinach and greens into my salad spinner.

I trimmed all of the pots, leaving some smaller leaves to see if they’d fluff out again. The "great salad harvest" overflowed the basket so I pulled it out and filled the outer bowl of the spinner as well.

Then, to keep the lettuce production flowing, I planted several little fibre pots with a few seeds each - planning to sprout them and move them into a bigger pot later.

For supper that night, I took around one-third of my harvest and added a grated carrot, some green onion and a sprinkle of walnuts, then and tossed it all in a lemon vinaigrette. It was enough for two big servings.

May 4 - Leftovers!

I hard-boiled an egg and had it for lunch with some more of my home-grown salad mix.

Also, it turns out the four plants I thought were hot peppers were, actually nasturtiums (an edible flower) I forgot I had planted. So, I guess I’ll have to plant some more peppers if I want any.

May 10 - Dryness disaster

I was coasting all week on the happiness of my first harvest.

Normally the indoor garden gets water every two to three days, but I must have lost track of time.

Until, on Sunday, my partner Mark peeked in on the plants.

“Umm…” he sent up a warning flag.

I went to investigate, trying to tally how long it had been since I watered. Too long, as it happened.

While the trimmed plants were re-growing vigorously, all the new lettuce sprouting in the little fibre pots had dried beyond hope. The little pots were always the first to dry out, but it seemed the issue was getting worse. The fibre pots also have some white fuzz on the outside. I am not a fan.

I sadly tidied away the lost lettuce and considered a better way to keep the garden going.

Beginner gardener Alison Jenkins shows off two home-made eavestrough gardens.
Beginner gardener Alison Jenkins shows off two home-made eavestrough gardens.

May 12 - Gutter garden

Inspired by other gardeners, I scrounged some eavestrough in the barn with a vision of an indoor/outdoor setup.

I knew I had picked up some parts that we never used and I was sure I’d seen short bits of eavestrough.

Sure enough, in the rafters were three, four-foot lengths of the white vinyl gutter (as well as some old skis, and the weed whacker, and the snow shovels … what to people do without a barn?)

Re-purposed eavestrough becomes a new place to grow vegetables.
Re-purposed eavestrough becomes a new place to grow vegetables.

I drilled some holes in the bottom - I didn’t note the size of the bit, around four millimetres - and capped the ends. I had two real ends and made some out of pink styrofoam, also stashed in the barn, and taped them in place with that red “Tuck Tape”.

Then I made a little drip tray for them out of old garden centre basket trays and some vapour barrier I got on the Facebook marketplace because I thought it was exterior house wrap.

The idea is to move the trays outside onto some sort of stand fashioned from random bits from the barn. I have my eye on some two-by-fours and an old firewood holder.

Stay tuned!


Alison Jenkins is a local journalism initiative reporter. She can be reached at alison.jenkins@journalpioneer.com.

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