I just picked these greens — or at least, I had just picked them when I started this post last night, but then I had to make the dinner for which they were destined, and seeing as how it was Abdoulaye's birthday and he's never seen The Sting, well, there went the evening, and the post languished, neglected. (Abdoulaye, our visiting potato specialist from Mali, has a terrific sense of humor and excellent taste in movies, as witnessed by the fact that he likes all our favorites. When I mentioned recently that his English comprehension is excellent–much better than it was when he first lived with us back in the fall of 2005–he credited the movies I gave him for a going-away present back in 2007; especially, he said, My Cousin Vinny.)
To get back to the greens, the subject of this interrupted post: the harvest pictured above is the second picking from a tiny basement garden I planted in January, which grows under a cheap florescent light in a room which averages about 55-60 degrees.
This is a pair of 4ft. full-spectrum florescent bulbs in a wide reflector, but they're Home Depot or Lowes quality, not the fancy (and pricey) sort you can get at garden supply stores. The whole set-up cost about fifty bucks. I did invest in a timer (spending less than $20, I think) and it was well worth it; it has saved not only the plants, but my sanity as well. For the first two months the lights were on from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. This is significantly more than I've seen recommended, but I'm not arguing with the results.
Below the light are two plastic planters and a bunch of small pots, all reused. I measured everything for this post, but the numbers are so odd I wonder whether my measuring tape (though metal) has stretched or shrunk. The planters measure not 30" by 6", but 29" by 7", while the pots, which I assumed were a standard 4" square (isn't 4" square standard?), actually measure 31/2" on each side. Maybe this is like 2 x 4s, which aren't actually 2" by 4" but significantly less. Or else I've got weird pots, which would make sense.
Everything is planted with parsley or with greens: chard, lettuce, and above all, spinach. "Above all" refers not only to quantity, but to height, for some were brushing the lights above them. (They had good stout stems and were quite bushy, but they'd gotten BIG.)
For the first salad a week or so ago, I snipped off individual leaves; this time, I cut back the biggest spinach plants pretty drastically, leaving just a couple of leaf nodes where the second growth has already sprouted. These are densely seeded planters, so if and when the spinach seems past its prime, I'll cut it off at dirt level and let something else take over.
In the meantime, the parsely has precedence for a while; sometime soon, I'll use it in a pesto. (AND I've just discovered that I never posted about last fall's parsely pesto. Hmm. Got some catching up to do.)
This basement garden is a pretty small-scale experiment, but overall, I'm pleased.