Harvest time has already rounded the corner, and it's a true fight between my furry friends outside and how bad I want to juice some fresh greens from the garden.
I'm keeping my eye on the juicy Green Leaf Lettuce in the background, as my Swiss Chard struggles to produce a leaf that won't get snatched up the second it sprouts. In the photo above, you can see I planted some marigolds to help ward off my neighborhood deer. They like to peruse my garden looking for any freebies. In the upper right, I also squeezed in three small Dead Nettle plants this spring. I have the Anne Greenway species that is more lime green with variegated leaves. This ground cover produces a delicate purply-pink flowering stem from spring to summer. Not only will this bushy plant spread and act as a natural form of mulch, it also has a peculiar smell that is supposed to ward off the deer and rabbits.
You can see where I interlaced my Swiss Chard with marigolds and strategically placed the Dead Nettle to quickly spread its stinkiness to fill in the gaps. The marigolds and Dead Nettle were an afterthought. When my chard was getting nibbled on by someone other than me, I knew I had to build up a barrier to try and stop the mayhem. So far, it seems to be helping. New leaves are sprouting.
My Red Romaine Lettuce (shown in center) are doing okay. We've had a few plants leveled, but others are growing strong. Those green stakes are also deer deterrents - more on that in another post.
The Green Leaf Lettuce is flourishing and serves as a pretty chartreuse accent to my blueish-purple catmint (in background). However, I made the grave mistake of planting the lettuce too close to the catmint this spring. That's an easy mistake to make - overlooking the amount of room your plants will need as they mature.
I also planted Red Mustard Japanese Giant (pictured below) this spring. This may be the only lettuce I don't indulge in because the leaves look simply stunning against the lime green of the Creeping Jenny ground cover. I find it quite ironic that I'm faced with the choice of gobbling up my edible garden, or leaving the plants intact for the sake of beauty. However, the lettuces are cool season plants, and once the weather heats up the flavors become more bitter. So, time is truly of essence and I'll have to flip the coin soon - to eat or not to eat!