Tasty Turkey Taco Salad!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I can't remember the last time that Venus and I purchased a head of lettuce -- or any other leafy-green item from our local grocery store or farmer's market. I really can't.

I know this may sound like bragging to some, and perhaps it is, but it really isn't intended to be that way. I might, however, might be bragging about my wife's green thumb when it comes to anything leafy-green in the garden. Sorry, but that's allowed.

Venus isn't just growing greens. She's growing greens on some kind of steroids.

The photo to your left is just an example of what comes out of the garden on a nightly basis. And we can't really get to all of it before it goes to seed. The greens to your left include Swiss Chard, Arugula, two types of Mustard greens, Kale and Collards.

Venus loves to grow all types of lettuce and spinach, and they do grow well in the fall, winter and spring months. But when the hot weather of summer begins to set it, as it always does, the lettuce can't take the heat.

Last year we invested in seeds from a variety of lettuce developed in Israel, and guaranteed to produce greens in the hottest of desert heat. And it promptly bolted about five seconds after sprouting. We learned the hard way that what stands up well in Israel, doesn't exactly transfer into success in Sacramento.

But, trial and error is what gardening is all about.

We'll keep trying, of course. There are hundreds of varieties of lettuce to experiment with. It's just that 99.9% of them start to bolt to seed once they get a taste of Sacramento's summertime heat. Perhaps lettuce does better in foothill areas? I'm not sure. What I can tell you is this: it's tough to grow in the riverbottom.

But for now - the monster chard, mustard, arugula, kale and collards are doing a fine job of lettuce immitation. It may not have the water content of your standard head of iceberg lettuce, still one of my favorites, but it sure is tasty.

The lettuce and peas featured in this colander went into one of my favorite meals the other night -- tasty Turkey Taco Salad. That salad also contained freshly harvested radishes from the garden, and yes, the second and third ripe Bloody Butcher tomatoes to come from the summer tomato garden.

Do those tomatoes have that fresh, ripened on the vine, summertime zing that tomatoes usually have? Almost -- but not quite. They may look red. They may be soft to the touch. They may look quite ripe. But they're not quite "there" yet in terms of that summertime *ZING* of fresh tomato taste.

But, I can tell you this much: It's better than anything coming out of neighborhood stores at this point.


Carri said...

All of my lettuce has pretty much bolted, except for ones that I grew in partial shade, and the Batavian Broadleaf Endive. But yeah- I'm in the same boat as you, still searching for the perfect summer lettuce that'll stick around for a bit.

Bill Bird said...

There are gardening operations that are in the business of lettuce only. Most of them are located back east, but we'll keep searching for the right variety. The quest is to find any type of iceberg variety that will grow here during July. I know that sounds next to impossible for those with experience, but we'll keep trying!

Sherry Barker said...

My garden is getting waterlogged right now with all the rain and I am afraid I will have to replant a lot of my seeds. I sure could use $100 from Home Depot to buy more seed, since I am 65 years old and living on a small social secruity pension. I depend on my garden to produce my food for the winter!
Sherry Barker

Brenda Berry said...

What a great blog, Bill. How lovely that you and Venus are teaching your little niece and nephew about gardening! Looks like you have at least one future greenthumber, and one future animal control officer who will be wondering "Why Kitty Hide" for her upcoming career! On a more personal note-as for your "struggle"-have hope. It took 10 miscarriages and the absolute refusal to believe when doctors told me I could NOT have children. My lovely 14 year old daughter would beg to differ with their assesment! Hang in there-like any garden, sometimes the seed for a child just needs to be planted and grown in an unusual or creative way. You and your lovely wife are clearly wonderful gardeners. Prayer and faith will get that extra garden sprouting in its time, I am sure. Thanks for the interesting and fun blog-I enjoyed it very much.

Mimi Morris said...

I started my Furlough Garden in February, following the Square Foot Garden method of Mel Bartholomew. I love Home Depot for their soil amendments, seeds, seedlings, pitchforks! I could use a $100 gift card to buy more seedlings/seeds to replace my beet crop section which has already been harvested and consumed with gusto (roasted, with a little olive oil and salt and pepper!) Yum! Tomatoes are still mighty green!

Strawberries have been providing steady enjoyment for the last six weeks.

Rhubarb is coming in strong -- great to cut/freeze and save for winter pies!