I've got a confession to make: our first harvest wasn't radishes. It was actually lettuce.
I guess I got so excited that after all the digging and planting and weeding in the big garden we finally got to harvest the fruits (or in this case, the vegetables) of our labour, that I'd forgotten about our little patio garden that's been quietly growing just outside our kitchen door.
The Plan is to convert much of the existing house garden to a herb and butterfly garden, but that'll take time and I don't have much of that to spare right now. So besides the basil, parsley, oregano and thyme that I'd grown from seed and transplanted into the big garden to keep the tomatoes and peppers happy, we've got our cooking herbs growing in pots on the deck.
There's oregano, two kinds of basil, sage, thyme, rosemary, dill, chives, coriander, parsley and mint, each with their own delicious texture and aroma.
Besides the herbs, we decided to grow a few pots of lettuce for convenience but also to see how they grow compared to the lettuce growing in the big garden. Already I've come to appreciate one big advantage to pot-grown lettuce -- there are no slugs on the deck!
There's the Tennis Ball lettuce, an heirloom introduced in the 1850's, that produces loose heads measuring only 7" in diameter.
We're also growing a gourmet heirloom leaf lettuce mix, featuring a blend of Green Oak Leaf, Black Seeded Simpson, Australian Yellowleaf, among others.
I always knew there was an incredible range of lettuce varieties far beyond iceberg and romaine. Even the grocery store produce section now offers a hopeful selection of leaf shapes and varieties in pre-bagged mixes. Unfortunately, my experience of those mixes has often been one of disappointment, with the greens being bitter or tough or worse, tasteless.
Growing my own herbs and greens on this little deck garden is not only easy, it's helped heighten my wonder at the range of sensory experiences associated with eating and food. So often we eat just to fuel ourselves, but savouring something as simple as a just-picked herb or a lettuce leaf can introduce a world that stimulates not only the taste buds, but your sense of smell and touch too.
There's an immense sensory delight in gently rubbing herb leaves between your thumb and finger and releasing their rich fragrance. Then there's the intense flavouring that fresh herbs add to a meal -- who knew that parsley could tickle your tastebuds so much? And fresh-picked leaf lettuce has not only an exceptional taste but a gorgeous satiny texture.
Whenever I write about our life here on the farm, I'm always conscious of the fact that not everyone can, or even wants to, do what we're doing here. But the great news is, anyone can do this. It just takes some sun, seeds and soil, and a hunger for eating food that's good for you and the earth.