My sister recently told me that her lettuce wasn’t doing very well because she hadn’t had time to water it. I told her that shouldn’t matter, and she argued with me, telling me that lettuce needs lots of water. I like to test these “rules” in my own garden, which often makes for some interesting arrangements and results.

On May 5th I bought a mix of lettuce and planted it. I watered it on the day of planting and once after. As you probably recall, we had very little rain in Southern Ontario in the month of May, so my watering was the most the lettuce got.

I was pleasantly surprised how much my lettuce grew in that time.  I had my first salad from my garden this past Monday, and it’s still growing strong, ready for another harvest today. (I know we had a fair amount of rain this past weekend, but I my lettuce was growing very well before that).

My low water lettuce, with one harvest already done.


A little about the conditions of my garden; I have a raised garden/retaining wall, which is south facing and has a sandy loam soil mix (thanks to the previous owner). The retaining wall is crumbling, adding to the “well-drained” conditions of the raised garden. I have wood mulch throughout, and lots of it (the other day I was planting some Kale and realized there was over 6 inches of mulch in once area of the garden).

I grow a mix of perennials, annuals and vegetables in my garden, most planted somewhat haphazardly as I use my garden to test and experiment, rather than as a visual masterpiece. Sometimes this works in my favor and a neat little colour combination of plants will reveal itself…

Using lettuce to create foliage interest in your garden.

For the first time ever, my other half actually commented on how great the garden looked, and how beautiful the colours looked (he prefers grass to EVERYTHING).

Dianthus with some chartreuse lettuce for an unexpected colour combo. Both get very little water…

Am I telling you to push your plants into a perpetual state of thirst? Not at all. But stop over-pampering your plants, they are living things and they will adapt to the conditions to survive. They have root systems which will quickly grow or move to find moisture, and at the same time, they will shrink and limit growth if there is too much water. Play with the “rules” of gardening a bit and see what great results you may end up with. Less water will typically amount in better results than too much.

Happy Gardening!


Garden Trends for 2012

January 26, 2012

It’s that time of year where we see what the trends in landscapes will be for the upcoming year.  There are common themes across the country, with a few differences in what the hot colours will be. One things for sure is the move back to sustainable gardening. Its time to put down the hose, connect the rain barrel and look for colour from something other than those water hungry impatiens.

Water soaked gardens are no longer trending... Say goodbye to those water hungry impatiens

From the Ottawa Citizen….

I love the oranges and blues in the garden. Got a wet shady area? Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica) is a wonderful native plant, but only if the area has good moisture or you have a rain barrel nearby. Got a sunny, dry area? Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is gorgeous plant, but it won’t grow until mid-June when the soil warms up. It needs well-drained soil that won’t soak its root tuber over the winter.

Butterfly Milkweed (Asclepias Tuberosa) a wonderful option for a dry sunny garden.

From the Vancouver Sun….This has Amber and Black as trendy colours.

From Canadian Garden Centre and Nursery… This one puts water conservation up front.

From our neighbours to the south…

Start planning your sustainable garden for 2012!