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Signs of Life in the Garden

February 21st, 2012

Yesterday was a beautiful day, sunny with the highs reaching up into the high 30’s low 40’s. I decided it was the perfect time to sow some lettuce seeds. After spending a few minutes clearing away the mustard cover crops that winter killed, I sprinkled 2 packs of lettuce seeds on the bare earth. This are of the garden has a semi-south facing slop so the ground was already starting to thaw. What kind of lettuce did I plant?

‘Rouge D’Hiver’ from Grow Organic described as: (Latuca sativa) (aka Red Winter) French heirloom described in Vilmorin’s The Vegetable Garden (1885). Produces a compact 10-12″ head with a green heart and brownish-red leaves. For spring, summer, and fall planting. Romaine, 60 days

‘Brune D’Hiver’ from Baker Creek described as: Compact, hardy, French butterhead-type lettuce that was introduced in 1855. Crunchy green leaves are blushed in reddish-brown color. Plants require little space when growing, and are perfect for fall plantings. Hard to find in America.

After sowing the lettuce seeds I took a stroll around the garden to see if I could spot any signs of life. In addition to the snowdrops which are gathering steam and starting to show up in higher number I noticed more green in the garden. There were chives coming up, the sweet autumn clematis is already sprouting new growth, the Pink Mediterranean Heather is blooming beautifully on the front hillside, the daffodils are putting up green shoots. There are still overwintered leeks that will be harvested soon and the wild spring greens will be in season shortly. In fact I harvested some bittercress for a salad last night!

Are there any signs of life in your garden yet?

To read more about using cover crops in the garden I highly recommend this book:

20 Comments to “Signs of Life in the Garden”
  1. George on February 21, 2012 at 8:08 am

    Do you suspect that those are the same seed, just sold with slightly different names by the seed sellers? I grow the rouge lettuce and like it very much. George

    Reply to George's comment

    • Susy on February 21, 2012 at 9:36 am

      Actually I don’t think that – one is a butterhead type and one is a romaine type. So one will be very tender while the other will be really crisp. I have grown the butterhead type for a few years and it does really well. I’m adding the romaine type to mix with the butterhead type for extra texture.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Melissa on February 21, 2012 at 8:28 am

    I was out weeding this past weekend and noticed lots of signs of new life- My iris that my mom gave me are coming up! The hellebores will be in bloom soon. The forsythia is about to bloom- 3 weeks early but well it’s been a warm winter!

    Reply to Melissa's comment

  3. daisy on February 21, 2012 at 8:30 am

    How inspiring it is to see the new growth come up.
    I envy that you can grow your lettuce all summer-too hot here.

    There are signs of life all over our yard. I’m eatin’ it up!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  4. Brittany P. on February 21, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Lots of bulb plants are coming up in the bulb bed and one of our pears is leafinf out. The crabapples are begining to leaf out as well. I just love Spring! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply to Brittany P.'s comment

  5. Kim on February 21, 2012 at 8:57 am

    I am a bit jealous of you actually having a winter. We have not had any winter here in New Orleans, even by our standards. Nothing has even seemed to pause for the few cold spells we had. My husband has been vocal more than once about having to cut the grass constantly. It can be great as I have fresh basil constantly, but usually means really hot summers and overly active hurricane season.

    Reply to Kim's comment

  6. tj on February 21, 2012 at 9:27 am

    …I would love to know how to plant a cover crop and which one to plant. To me it’s all so intimidating because I know absolutely nothing about the subject. Maybe ordering the book you recommended is a start, eh? :o)

    …The Pink Mediterranean Heather in your 3rd photo is lovely. That is a perennial in your zone? If so, I believe purchasing some is in order this year.

    …Thank you for sharing the beautiful photos!

    …Enjoy your day you two!

    …Blessings :o)

    Reply to tj's comment

    • Susy on February 21, 2012 at 9:37 am

      The heather is technically a zone 6 plant – but it’s planted on the front south facing hillside among lots of large rocks so it thrives there with the microclimate.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Teresa on February 21, 2012 at 9:32 am

    So far I’ve resisted planting anything. Our soil was lovely and warm this weekend, but our temps are still fluctuating all over the place.

    On the other hand, I have a lot of seeds for lettuce and some really hardy greens like arugula and tatsoi. Might as well give it a try!

    Reply to Teresa's comment

  8. Josie on February 21, 2012 at 10:20 am

    I keep thinking I could get peas in the ground, we are 7a here and its been such a mild winter for us. This is my first year with a garden though so I am honestly nervous to mess it up. Just when I start to feel brave the temps drop to the low 30’s at night. Spring is tricky. We did get two full raised beds made this weekend and 5 more frames and placed, they just need to be anchored and filled with soil and compost. We have a large comunity compost facility and I am trying to wait patiently for the next open to the public compost day. The bulbs are all showing here, and the tress have buds on them. I still have decent broccoli, and lettuce I planted in October…uncovered. Its been that mild here.

    Reply to Josie's comment

  9. Josie on February 21, 2012 at 10:28 am

    P.S. Hey Suzy I noticed your reading some “house” books. Have you heard of Ross Chapin? Very beautiful home designs in the smaller catagory and also “country plans” website, the one that comes to mind is a couple who built a fantastic small home in Maine on a 125,000 budget. The home was featured in “Fine homebuilding.” I thought these might be something you would enjoy checking out.
    I love the idea of building a house to meet your personal needs and ideals.

    Reply to Josie's comment

    • Susy on February 21, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Thanks so much – I’ll definitely check them out. I’ve noticed the houses in “The Not So Big House” are actually all pretty huge for our standards. We’re definitely small cottage type of people!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. MAYBELLINE on February 21, 2012 at 11:22 am

    Brune D’Hiver grew fine in my garden.
    This winter lettuce has been the star in my salad patch.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  11. S on February 21, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I just started Rouge d’hiver too, though indoors for now. I think you guys have an earlier spring than us, even though we’re similar zones. I do have a few plants that overwintered in the hoop house.

    I love that heather! We have a project this year on our south-facing hill and that might be a great addition, I had no idea it could bloom this early (granted, it’s a strange winter this year).

    Reply to S's comment

  12. Peaceful Valley/ on February 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm

    Susy, We’re so proud that you planted our organic Rouge D’Hiver lettuce seeds! Spring is starting here in the Sierra Nevada foothills, with cherry blossoms just out, and the Daphne odorata blooming like mad and scenting the air. We could get more snow though! Think of your California friends when you crunch into your lettuces :-)

    Reply to Peaceful Valley/'s comment

  13. KimH on February 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    I’ve got crocus & hellebore blooming right now.. They both have just sprung up in the last day or two.. Not all the crocus are up, but a good handful anyways.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  14. Liz J on February 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Yes, I am jealous also! It’s too cold here. Actually last December my hosta were popping through ~ unreal. They have since gone back to sleep. I am looking forward to the asparagus making it’s arrival ~ bring it on!!!!

    Reply to Liz J's comment

  15. SixBalloona on February 21, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I am still harvesting some sweet carrots from my garden these days too. Simply a wonderful treat.

    Reply to SixBalloona's comment

  16. Chicago Mike on February 22, 2012 at 1:34 am

    Looking at that first picture on this post reminds me that this blog was the one that pointed me in the direction of Baker Creek. Thats awesome.

    And my garden is showing more signs of life than I want it too. I am worried that we have one more brutal stretch of cold weather ahead. Of course, I live in Chicago, what do I expect? :)

    Reply to Chicago Mike's comment

  17. Sheila on February 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    You planted lettuce already? You’re further north than I am … maybe I should go ahead and try! I’m just antsing to get growing stuff again. Today I couldn’t help myself and planted some peas. It was just so warm and summery it was impossible to resist. Worse comes to worst, I just lose a dozen seeds and plant again in a few weeks. But who knows, I might get something out of these.

    Reply to Sheila's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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