When I planted my garden in Indiana I would always have a couple amazing rows of lettuce. My little girls loved to go out to the garden and pick leaves of lettuce and eat it. I never even imagined that growing lettuce was hard. It was the same with beets. I planted beets in Indiana because I had this memory of how yummy my mom's canned beets were. I never ended up canning my beets, I gave them away, but I was so thrilled with how beautiful they were. I never imagined the beets could turn on me...but they have. The beets and the lettuce have decided it is funny to not do what they are supposed to. They are not following the plan. They come up but that is about it. Then they just sit there and taunt me. Last year I let it slide. I finally just dug them up and gave up, but not this year. This year I have declared war. I have to know what the problem is. The potatoes seem happy. The beans are thrilled. The peas have flowers and pods. The tomatoes are not fraternizing with disease. But the beets and lettuce did not get the memo.
So here are the facts. The seeds germinate. They come up. And that is pretty much it. They grow a teeny tiny bit and then nothing more. I have ruled out animals. There is not a bite mark to be seen. I have given them Miracle Gro and so far no miracle. I have even spoken with them in a nice voice and an angry voice. I have finally decided it has to be one of two things, two minor things.....sunlight and dirt :) You see when my hubby kindly dug my garden we did not really communicate and I have some trees that think it is okay to give shade to part of the garden. But lettuce and beets are supposed to be okay in part sun from all I have read. The other issue could be "that dirt." I confess in all my years of gardening I have never had to acknowledge the dirt. It has always done what it should so I have just left it alone. But Massachusetts rocks and kazillion pine needles have forced me to finally recognize that dirt has needs too. In the space of a month I have become obsessed with the words acidic, lime,and nutrients. I keep reading and reading looking for which way is going to be the best for me to give my dirt the love it apparently needs. I am so desperate I have even allowed magazines that have the word organic on the cover to come into the house. :)
The thing is I really can not do much about it until Fall. And then much to my husbands chagrin I will plant a cover crop on my garden spot. Something that simply loves to put nitrogen into the dirt and I will figure out how to build a compost bin all by myself. I think with some chicken wire, an old crate and a staple gun I can do the job nicely.
But as for now. I replanted the beets and lettuce in different parts of the garden so I can see if it could be they want to live somewhere else. Maybe the sunbelt IS for them. Last year when this happened I cheated and for the first time in my life bought lettuce that was already started but let me tell you that did not feel right. So right now I have lettuce planted in 4 different places. I have not given up on my original lettuce, it is still there, maybe it will decide to grow at some point I am a believer in "leaving no lettuce behind" :) Hey, maybe the government will give me some money to make sure this lettuce gets the extra help it needs :)