As part of the big spring planting we will do a box or two of lettuce. T-W-O like Romain and I’m not even sure this is technically a lettuce but it is very tasty compared to a flat leaf lettuce (and it’s one of the only ones he’ll eat). We have a bit of a wet climate out here at the foot of a mountain (hill for US people), refer back to the precipitation diagram you drew at school. The sun over the sea, the land and the mountain. The water evaporates from the sea and makes a cloud that gets blown over to the mountain. The cooler air makes the cloud into water again which falls on us!
The slugs love our garden and despite the best efforts of Donald duck to eat them all even he is defeated by the shear numbers. I confess that I do resort to slug pellets every now and then, usually when I’m on my second lots of seedlings as the first lot have been devastated by the beasts at which time I will have lost my temper. The problem with pellets is that I have to keep the chickens and Donald off them so I then cover the plants in chicken wire. It all gets very complicated and they are not good for the wildlife either.
After all this I decided to plant my lettuce seeds in a box in the greenhouse. After a bit of thought and some luck I found that our local supermarket leaves old wooden apple boxes for customers to recycle as food carriers. I was elated (really I was, it strange the things that please me) and I secured one by filling it with shopping.
The boxes are made of thin strips of wood and stapled together. To help retain moisture I lined the boxes with old news paper or cut down layers of chicken feed sacks and filled them with a mixture of shop brought and home made compost. I scattered the seeds onto the compost and finished it with another fine layer of earth. Left to germinate in the greenhouse they quickly sprouted. The lettuce box only works if you remove lettuce to eat at various stages of development. Take small juicy young lettuce from the box to eat and let a few well spaced heads mature.
Once the weather has improved a bit the box gets moved outside. I either set them down in front of the greenhouse where I have a bit of a graveled area or by the side of the path. on a few stones. The idea is to stop the slugs making the climb into the box somehow, the gravel helps enormously and I also grow my courgettes in this area.
The boxes are not unattractive for a recycling idea although I appreciate they are not quite pretty terracotta tubs. The best bit is that once the season is finished the boxes starting to rot and then they can be used again. I empty the spent compost and paper onto my compost heap. Then if the bottom of the box has rotted away I brake it up a bit more and chuck that on the heap as well. It does take a while to rot down but it’s already on it’s way remember.
Any wood that is ok I brake up and use as fire lighters or kindling on the wood burner. The bits of metal staples drop into the ash box and can be removed then if you wish. I have collected a couple of boxes in preparation and I am considering planting spinach in the same way as it has become so expensive in the shops and again would suit the growing cycle where you take young leaves first.