Salad Fail

Greens are easy to grow. I’ve grown them many times in the past couple of years, and normally I don’t have a problem at all (aside from foraging squirrels digging up my spinach seeds).

You may recall that last year I topped off my big raised bed with a hefty layer of leaf mulch. Overall, it really seemed to help the soil – I noticed so many more earthworms, and the texture was better. However, there was one thing that I didn’t really account for. One techy, sciency, but very obvious thing: in their final stages of decomposition, leaves will take nitrogen up from the soil. It’s usually just a surface issue, so if you don’t till or turn the leaves under (which, uh, I did.). And when they do finally decompose, that nitrogen obviously goes back into the soil and makes it even better.

But…it’s probably not a good idea to seed a large area of a leaf-mulched bed with a shallow rooted crop of something that requires LOTS of nitrogen. Spinach, lettuce, and arugula would probably all fall into this category, by the way.

Case in point? Everything sprouted well – that wasn’t an issue. However, it never really got bigger.

I noticed that it was looking a little sad and somewhat yellow but I didn’t make the connection myself. Jason mentioned the slow growth and yellow leaves to hi’s business partner, who actually used to be a chemistry teacher, and well, you can probably guess what he said.

Boy, do I feel dumb!

I’m also kind of bummed about it. I’d been dreaming of fresh spring salads ever since I seeded the greens patch back in early April. I’m going between laughing at myself and kicking myself (figuratively). I really should have figured this thing out sooner!

I gave them all a good dose of fish fertilizer this past weekend to try to salvage things, but if they haven’t shaped up by next weekend, I’ll just count my losses and move on to using the space for warmer-weather crops  (mainly cukes and squash). I’ve also learned that, for the time being while the leaves finish composting, everything will need a good dressing of composted manure and a dose of fish emulsion!

I may try to give my carrots a chance- they look tiny, but they are maturing, albeit very slowly:

Oh well. There’s always fall for another round of greens!

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4 Responses to “Salad Fail”

  1. Never give up. I guess you just have to learn from your mistakes.

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