I guess it's "Garden Week" here at Old Town Home, as our saga of the backyard transformation continues. Yesterday we covered our little urban square foot garden turned informal veggie/fruit/herb planting area and our process of cleaning up our yard for the year

One of the keys to this year's garden is the understanding and experience of previous years to know what likely will and will not work when planted in the space. Unfortunately, our location, space, and surrounding vegetation place limitations on what we can plant. For example, regardless of how much Alex may want honeydew melon, there's no reasonable way it's going to grow in our garden. Instead it will likely wilt and die when the temperature gets hot.

The main bummer about these limitations is the fact that lettuce just doesn't seem to grow for us. I think it's a combination of lack of sunlight, as well as the roots of the tree and ivy restricting the lettuce from really taking hold. The past two years the lettuce in the garden has started to grow early, then wilts and disappears as we head towards June. I know the lettuce also doesn't like the heat, so that compounds the problem as well.

This year, rather than trying to force the lettuce to grow somewhere that it won't work, I've opted to plant the various types of lettuce I want in a few containers so that I'm able to create a little lettuce container garden in our backyard.

This way the lettuce won't be choked out by the other roots, can be moved based on the sun (maximizing the sun's effect), and can have its own dedicated and deeper dirt with plenty of water.

I planted several different types of lettuce in two primary large planters. The list of lettuces I hope to be enjoying at the dinner table in a few weeks is:

  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Radicchio
  • Rainbow Chard

To prepare the pots for our lettuce I emptied them of their old plantings. These previously housed many of our herbs, so the soil was in decent shape and just needed to me freed up a bit.

I then topped off each planter with a little extra organic soil to make sure the lettuce has a sufficient and maximum amount of soil to take hold in.

Much like our vegetable garden, I made holes in the dirt for the lettuces and planted them slightly lower than the surrounding dirt, making a bit of a dish around the base of the plant's stem to collect water.

After just a few minutes I was the proud owner of a couple nice little lettuce container gardens.

While I was at it I also planted a few other herbs in other containers in the yard. This year, once again, we have many of our favorites:

  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Mint

I was also really excited to finally be able to enjoy one of my favorite Christmas gifts from 2012. These sweet ceramic herb markers, made by a local artist in Ohio, were a gift from my Aunt Margie (known to our readers as the master behind Chess Noels) and Uncle Jim. Seriously, does it get any cuter than a polka dot ceramic tag with copper stand? I think not.

Though I was largely planting herbs and veggies, I also made time for a few pretty little plants that add a little happiness to our yard, like these little purple flowers, left over from our urns out front.

We also have several items from last year that are returning very nicely, such as this large hydrangea that will look beautiful in just a few weeks.

In all, I consider this year's garden to be a preliminary success. We'll see how it goes with the bugs, squirrels, and other pests, but I'm cautiously optimistic for what the year will bring. If I'm lucky, I'll be able to share our lettuce bounty with our favorite lettuce hound, Lulu.

Have you ever planted a container garden with lettuce? If so, what were your results and experiences? Any tips on how I can help maximize the output?

Comments 10


4/18/2013 at 3:04 PM
I'm living vicariously through your recent garden posts as I don't have any sun in my backyard to plant a veggie garden. My front yard is the only area that gets full sun and I don't think my neighbors would appreciate me planting a bunch of raised beds there. Here in Texas, everyone LOVES their grass, (ha, ha).

But, what I really wanted to comment about are those garden tags you have for your herbs. As I was scrolling through the post, I saw the tag and thought "Stop the bus! I have those EXACT same ones!" Now that is too weird!
Your aunt must have purchased them from my favorite artist, Kate Lally (Dayton, OH area). I have had my garden tags for many, many years. So if that's any testament to their durability, there it is. I'm also a huge fan of her husband's work (Powers Photography) and have several photo's of his.

Good luck with your upcoming party!
Oh my gosh, Phyllis, that's exactly who the tags are from! My aunt included her card in the box so I'd know more about the artist. I actually went on her site yesterday to see if I could purchase more, and I didn't see any. I might have to email her because they are just so cute!
4/19/2013 at 9:44 AM
Wendy, I was in the same position last year as I wanted to expand my container herb garden, but didn't have enough of Kate's tags to complete the project. So I ended up contacting her via email and she was able to make some extra tags for me. She even let me choose the colors so that they would coordinate with what I already had...sweet! She's super nice and very easy to work with. Have fun! :)
Thanks for the tip, Phyllis. I'll definitely have to give that a try. :-)
Kelly C.
4/19/2013 at 2:33 PM
I love those tags! Let me know what she says when you contact her. What a great gift for your aunt to give you! I'm also in Texas and my lettuce has totally taken off this year. This is our first year for trying the square foot gardening approach. So far, so good. We have the same problem you do with too much shade. We've taken up a bit of our yard (grass) in the back just to put more garden area that gets sun. I've already been enjoying salads made with fresh, organic home grown lettuce! Nothing better - well until the homegrown tomatoes come in!
Mmm. Homegrown tomatoes are the best! We've struck out at our attempt in the past, but I'm giving grape tomatoes one more shot this year!

The spindly tall plant is actually a plant, not an herb. We planted it last year with a geranium, and it survived the winter. I think it's called a corkscrew plant if memory serves me.
Kelly C.
4/19/2013 at 2:37 PM
And, I meant to ask what the spindly tall herb is in the 5th picture (back left). Is that a form of rosemary?
4/23/2013 at 4:58 PM
Where did you get those adorable pots from? I'm about to start my own garden project and I'd love to have some variation in my containers, not just the standard orangey-red.
Hi Lindsay. The turquoise pots are...wait for it...from Ross Dress for Less! They were a total steal! The white ones I picked up years ago from the Crate & Barrel Outlet here in town. I find the garden stores charge outrageous sums for cute pots, so I always look elsewhere. Good luck!
Kathy S
4/23/2013 at 7:11 PM
Umm... I'm not sure about this, but if you were going to eat the lettuce and not let it be decor, shouldn't they be spaced farther apart so they can grow? Or have less of them in your lettuce pot?

Regardless, it all looks pretty!
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