[Snakeroot Organic Farm logo]
 • What's New Here
 • Snakeroot Poultry

 • About Our Farm
 • Annual Farm Tour
 • Community Supported
    Agriculture Plan (CSA)
Directions to our Farm
 • From a Run Out Hayfield to
    a Prosperous Organic Farm
    in Ten Easy Years

 • Get Real. Get Organic!
 • History of Our Farm
 • Pictures of the Farm
 • Where We Buy
 • Where We Sell
 • Our Yearly Work Schedule
 • Just Pretty
 • Subscribe to our e-newsletter.
 • Newsletter Archive.
 • What We Will & Won't Ship

 • Working Here
 • Our Apprentices
 • Our Farm Workers
 • Pictures of Us at Market

 • Fresh Vegetables
 • Fresh Fruit
 • Fresh Herbs
 • Perennials
 • Aloe - a magical plant
 • Our Bird Houses
 • Lupines
 • Rosemary Plants
 • Lovage, Tansy & Yarrow
 • Our Product Brochures
 • Dried Vegetables
 • Dried Culinary Herbs
 • Maple Syrup
 • Maple Syrup, p.2
 • Sugarin' Is Like Ice Fishin'
 • Our New Sugarhouse
 • Tomato Seedlings
 • Tomato Seeds We Offer
 • Tomato Seed Production
 • Paste Tomatoes
 • About Garlic
 • Garlic for Sale
 • Garlic Year Round
 • Mulching Garlic
 • Growing Rounds from Bulbils
 • Whole Bulbil Cluster Method
 • Planting Garlic

 • Using Mulches
 • Combatting Quackgrass
    with Mulch

 • We Want Your Leaves!
 • In Praise of Chips

 • Buying in Bulk for
    Storage, Canning & Freezing

 • Winter Storage Tips
 • How to Freeze Our Veggies
 • Building Techniques
 • Our Outbuildings
 • Evolution of the Farm Table
 • The Story of Our Cooler
 • Prepping Veggies for Market
 • Crop Rotations
 • Drip Irrigation
 • Low Pressure Water
 • Planting with Spreadsheets
 • Greenhouse Vegetable

 • Let-tuce Begin
 • Recipe Favorites
 • Our "Remay Roller"
 • Gardening Class Notes
 • Your Most Expensive Crop

 • Being Green
 • Digging Potatoes by Hand
 • Farmers' Markets in 2012
 • History of Pittsfield
 • Hybrids or Open Pollinated?
 • Making Websites
 • Open Source Software

    Our Retirement Plan
 • How Should a Farmer Retire?
 • Impediments to the want-to-be     farmer
 • Reducing the Value
    of the Land

 • Who Will Farm Here When
    We're Gone?

 • Apprentice Terms and Stages
 • From Apprentices to Partners
 • Transferring Farm Ownership

…and now for something completely different…

At dawn
Canoe bow waves are quickly lost
    on the shoreside
But go on out of sight
    on the lake side.


The constant swish-swish of skis
    On a day long ski.
The constant swish-swish of wiper blades
    On a day long drive.


My dog, trotting barefoot
Steps on a garden slug
And thinks
Nothing of it.


Word spreads quickly
as I approach the pond.
All becomes quiet.


Hidden in the vines
a large warted cucumber
jumps out of reach.
A toad!


Delicate puffs
of marshmallow snow
carefully perched
on a branch,
await the trigger of my hat
to melt their way down my back.

Deep in the tomato jungle
Fruits of yellow, purple and red
Tell of their readiness
To go to market.

Sugarin' Chores
Snowflakes hurry through my flashlight beam,
As my boots knead new snow with spring mud,
On my nightly Hajj to keep the boil alive,
For as long as possible until the dawn,
To match the power of the flowing sap,
With my meager evaporator and will.
The prize at the finish line are jars of syrup
And Spring.


Let-tuce Begin
by Lois Labbe
(Click on photos to enlarge.)

Iceberg used to be the only lettuce we ate when I was younger—little did I know!!!! At our farm, we grow over a dozen varieties which we are always changing, to try to improve the quality, harvest window, and marketability. How well the variety holds up at market is one key to growing for market. There are several varieties we have stopped growing because they are too tender to bring to market, although they make a perfectly fine lettuce for the home gardener. Of course the ultimate goal is to have it sell so fast that the hot sun or wind will not have a chance to take its toll. But in the real world of Farmers' Markets, that does not always happen.

I try to grow a range of varieties: romaines, buttercrunches, bibbs, even an iceberg type which forms a nice little head. You also have color, the range of which is tremendous: freckles, light red, dark red, greens, burgundy colored. The textures are all different as well, very tender such as a buttercrunch, or more substantial like a romaine. Furthermore, there are leaf types, which range smooth, frilly, oak leaf, etc. So it is not just a matter of lettuce anymore.

The next step is to decide which types do better in our diverse and challenging growing season. There are types that grow well early or late in the cool seasons but do not tolerate the heat of July and August. These also vary widely and it can get quite confusing as the season progresses. If you want to keep a steady supply, lettuce needs to be started every seven to ten days, with several varieties in each planting. If the plantings overlap that's alright, usually they do, at least that's the plan. When a lettuce starts to get past its prime, it is better to turn it under then try to sell it because it becomes bitter.

Lettuce is very forgiving, and if you properly select your varieties it can recover from freezing solid, and will stand up well in the heat of July—it all depends upon the variety. If you make succession plantings, the bolting from the heat won't be a problem. You can start it early in the season and very late in the season. I will usually start lettuce in flats in March for transplanting out when the ground is thawed and prepared. Then we plant all season long into September. Direct seeding begins as soon as the ground can be prepared which of course varies with the weather, the ultimate goal is to have lettuce to start the early Markets. We are also planting in our greenhouses in the ground. This works until it gets to hot, for then it starts to bolt quickly. You can tell when lettuce is bolting. When it is cut it will have a milky substance coming from the cut stem. Also, the plant will start to get taller and the leaves will start to separate forming a very pretty tree from three to five feet tall.

Read the variety descriptions, to find out what variety does the best in each kind of weather. The next step is to figure out how much lettuce you want to plant and how often. If you have a very large family and neighbors who appreciate fresh lettuce, then you can do a large planting every 10 days or so. It can either be direct seeded or transplanted, spacing is not terribly critical, because, as the lettuce begins to grow, you can thin to single lettuces, and use the baby lettuce in salads, etc.

For transplanting, I plant lettuce in 72 cell trays, then as it emerges I thin to one plant per cell (above photo). I use the thinned lettuce to make up 6-paks to sell at market or another 72 cell tray for us to transplant. So this is also something to consider, let the farmer do most of the work and buy seedlings.

Another way of growing lettuce, which has become very popular, is to grow a lettuce mix. With this style you don't need to worry about thinning or transplanting or variety. The packets are all made up by the seed company. Most have ten or more varieties including reds, greens, ruffles and so on. These are often referred to as “cutting lettuces” in the catalog . They can be harvested two to three times before they start to bolt. So if you planted every two to three weeks during the summer, you can have a fresh supply of salad greens all season. This is also good because you can plant in anything if you don't have a lot space. It can be planted in a window box or in the ground. It does very well if it is crowded, so, as I mentioned before with direct seeded lettuce, spacing is not a problem.

Lettuce grows from the center. So when harvesting try not cut too close and it will give you two or three cuttings on a single planting. You can also just pick off the outside leaves.

When planting lettuce, the things to remember are; lettuce seed needs light to germinate so sprinkle seed on top of medium, tamp seed into soil and cover lightly. If you are top watering, be careful not to wash the seed away. We place our flats in soaker trays, which are available at most garden supply centers. Don't forget to water every few days, do not let the soil dry out until seedlings emerge. It usually takes a week to ten days and it is harvested when the leaves are two to three inches.

27 Organic Farm Road, Pittsfield Maine 04967
owned and operated by
Tom Roberts & Lois Labbe
Tom: Tom@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5417
Lois: Lois@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5418

Gardening for the public since 1995.

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