A photo published on Facebook recently by a friend who owns a nursery received lots of comments from envious gardeners.
This bowl full of fresh greens was harvested in January by Alice d’Entremont.
Alice d'Entremont operates Ouest-Ville Perennials in West Pubnico, a business that's popular for its healthy plants and tidy design.
Her picture of a large bowl of freshly picked greens was very tempting with its beautiful mixture of bright, crisp leaves.
D'Entremont told me she planted the seeds for her crop in November, a few months later than she wanted to. She used an organic mix of her own that incorporated earthworm castings.
"They germinated fast. I fertilized them with Seaboost, (a seaweed based product sold at her nursery and others in Atlantic Canada.) I didn't overwater them to prevent botrytis," she said.
D'Entremont planted several pots to ensure she had plenty - some were sown with lettuce, some with Mesclun, and others with mizuna (her favourite) and "of course" spinach. The plants were grown in the greenhouse with no heat.
She told me she enjoyed her fresh salad with a King Limousin beef steak on the barbecue.
"It was a nice summer treat (in winter). Shredded carrots and poppy seed dressing, yum!" she said.
She says it’s best not to overwater the seedlings. Because the greenhouse is so damp, the greens can succumb, as mentioned before, to botrytis. This necrotrophic fungus affects many plant species and is sometimes referred to as grey mold.
D’Entremont says she became frustrated buying greens from the store.
“I had to throw half away because they get bad too fast... so plant your own. It's too easy. Niki Jabbour was a great inspiration,” she said.
Copies of the book “The Year Round Vegetable Gardener” are available at Ouestville Perennials.
The book details Jabbour’s favourite crops and the “sneaky season extenders” that she uses to harvest 12 months a year, with no additional heat.
If you visit Jabbour’s website (www.nikijabbour.com) you’ll see a photo taken in January of her posing with over 15 types of crops tucked within simple cold frames, including scallions, leeks, endive, 'Winter Density' lettuce, 'Red Salad Bowl' lettuce, spinach, mache, tatsoi and more.
In her blog, she describes sowing broccoli shoots on a Tuesday and nibbling on the tiny plants on Friday.
She’s a strong promoter of using sunny windowsills or grow-lights to inexpensively grow more food.