Harvesting Lettuce Seeds

From November through April, I don’t buy salad from the grocery store. No need. I get all I need from my garden. I wish I could tell you the same held true for spinach, but in Central Florida, I’m having a tough time growing the greens. Spinach prefers a cooler climate–something I don’t have.

lettuce and scallions

Lettuce doesn’t like the heat much either, but thrives in Florida six months out of the year. I’ll take it. Nothing beats walking to the garden and harvesting fresh greens for a salad.

plentiful kale

I usually grow bibb, arugula, red sail and kale. And when spring rolls around, I’ll allow a few to go to seed and harvest them for next year. Once the plant goes to flower, the blooms will close up and form seeds. To see how it works–watch this quick video.

lettuce going to seed

Sustainable gardening. It’s a gift from nature.

The Sweetest Success

Comes after failure.  In my life, failure seems to be an integral part of the process.  Take my sprouts.  Just look at these pumpkins!  Not literally speaking, you understand, but what adorable, beautiful, brilliant works of art.  To the average eye, I realize they’re simply another tray of seedlings, but to me, they’re an amazing success story. 

This past spring, I worked so hard to get my tomato sprouts to sprout, to flourish, but to avail.  I watered, I waited.  Didn’t feed as much as I should have, but thought my organic dirt was sufficient.  It wasn’t.  None of my sprouts made it.  But I learned my lesson.  Because I failed, I learned the value of early fish emulsion, painstaking attention to moisture and the finicky nature of the seeds themselves…

It’s all part of the process!  For instance, my first batch of tomatoes took 2 weeks to begin shooting sprouts.  My second batch?  A week!  My first round of peppers set off without delay, my current round of peppers seem a bit slow.  Why?

Dont’ know.  Conditions, seed quality…  What I do know, is that with every failure, I become a better gardener.  With every loss, each success grows my joy, tenfold.

Much like in life.  Persistence is everything.  Whatever happens, take responsibility.   Re-frame your perspective.  Insead of failure, think in terms of results.   “You failed?” they may ask.

No.  I simply haven’t succeeded yet.  It’s only a matter of time.  And effort

Desire.  Will.  You’ll never achieve abiding success without commitment.   This premise holds true in every facet of my life — if I let it.  Knowing when to let go is important.  Knowing when to change direction is a talent gained best by experience. 

Every season my garden improves.  I learn by doing, I enjoy the process.  And I don’t sweat the mishaps.  Swing with emotion over mishaps — yes — but I don’t sweat them. 

So next time you’re experiencing a setback, remember, this too shall pass.  The real question is where will you be standing when it does?

Superwoman lands in the garden!

The other day, my daughter and I were working a row of weeds.  Actually several rows, but since I promised her we’d only tackle one row a day — the trick to securing her continued return — I was doing the bulk of the weeding.  Which I don’t mind.  Surrounded by sprouts and vegetables in varying stages of growth, I feel productive.  And all the better: I’m not folding clothes.  So life is good!

It was a warm, but beautiful day when she rose from her aisle of hay and exclaimed, “All done!”

The relief on her face was too funny – and predictable – and I couldn’t help but tease, “Already?  Wow.”  I surveyed her handiwork.  “You’re amazing.  How about another?”

Mom,” she replied sternly, slapping a dirt-covered hand to her hip.  “You promised.  Only one row.”

“I know, I know.”  I chuckled.  “It was worth a try.”  Dismissed, she trotted off to find her brother.

Only to return an hour later.  Kneeling down in the row beside me, she began to pick at weeds.  I glanced at her, surprised.  “What are you doing?  I thought you were finished weeding.”

“I am,” she reassured.  “But I’m bored, so I thought I’d come help.”

I sat back on my heels.  “You’re always welcome to help.  In fact,” I added, “I like being in the garden with you, just us girls.”

This drew a smile from her, but she maintained focus on her task.  I resumed my leaf pluck expedition down a line of eggplant, and together we worked in silence.

Until she murmured, “Mom, you are Superwoman.”

My heart sung!  My spirit soared!  “Superwoman?”  I tried to conceal my glee. I mean — could it be trueShe finally noticed?

She nodded.

Warmed by the sentiment, I smiled, flattered she noticed.  It’s because I’ve devoted my life to you, isn’t it?  I’ve signed on to be Girl Scout leader, always offer to be school volunteer, I’m ever the reliable athletics chaperone…

Basking in the glow of my daughter’s admiration, my imagination flittered about, enthralled with a sense of validation, honor, and the glorious reward for my years of dedication.  I lost all sense of good judgment and replied, “That’s so sweet.  But you know, baby doll, I’m not Superwoman.”  I didn’t want her to invest any time in unrealistic goals and expectations for herself, her future, so I told her, “I’m just a woman, doing what she loves.”

Her expression twisted in confusion.  “You love weeding?”

I pulled back.  “Weeding?”  Now we were both confused.  “No…”  My hands fell to my sides, and landed in dirt.  “I was referring to your Superwoman comment.”


“Why did you say I was Superwoman?” I asked, but could feel the hoe slicing through the air, its blade headed straight for me.

“Cause you have endurance!  I don’t know any mom who could weed as much as you!”

Ouch.  Bubble-filled fantasies popped.  My ego deflated.  Humidity clung to my skin like a wet noodle.  There’s a kick in the rear.

But as those innocent green eyes held me in their gaze, I knew I couldn’t be upset.  I had to take her at her word — the one she meant to be a compliment.  And while it may not have been the one I had hoped, it was her own, and wholly genuine.  Heartfelt.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

mother-daughter love

Rising from my knees, I walked over and placed a kiss on the top of her head.  “Thank you, baby.  I appreciate that, and it was kind of you to say.”

She beamed, pleased with herself.  I grinned, heartened by her self-contentment.  Both of us were satisfied with the moment, the kind which may prove scarce as she grows into adolescence.

So me, I took my lump of sugar when and where I could — as any smart mother would.  One never knows when the next batch will arrive!

Lookee who I found in the compost pile!

My neighbor warned this might happen.  I’ve been so busy tossing everything into my compost pile, planning for my next growing season, I didn’t pay attention to what was growing in it this season.  A tomato plant!  I knew right away what it was, because there’s one thing about tomato plants and that is – they are aromatic.  I’m no “olfactologist,” but I can tell a tomato plant when I smell one – it’s a distinct fragrance.  


And I’m excited!  Another experiment in the making – woohoo!  But due to the fact that I yanked the thing out of my compost pile like the intrusive weed that I mistook it for, my expectations are somewhat dimmed.  Tomato plants are not known for their transplanting capability.  And while I have a few in my garden disproving that notion, this one might not survive, as its roots were fairly ripped.  And torn.  (I can be fairly aggressive when there’s work to be done.)

But looking on the bright side of the compost pile, it might just be the stimulation this little guy needs to get busy and get growing.  It’s already day two, and he hasn’t shown signs of stress, yet!  Give him time, my husband says.  Give him time