To people hesitant to rush headlong into gardening, I like to recommend a modest start that almost inevitably leads to success. Choose several lettuce seedlings—for instance, ‘Sweet Valentine,’ ‘Deer Tongue,’ ‘Schweitzer’s Mescher Bib,’ and ‘Yugoslavian Red Butterhead’—and a roomy (at least one-foot-deep) planter box. Fill it with good-quality potting mix (my favorite, E.B. Stone, is loaded with nutrients) and tuck the lettuce in tight, a mere couple inches apart, with their roots below and their leaves above the surface of the soil. Water well and set in a sunny spot. After a few days, you can begin harvesting the outer leaves of head lettuce (they grow from the center), or, with looser, leaf-type lettuce, you can cut the whole head about an inch from the base; it will sprout again before you know it.
FROM JIMMY'S KITCHEN
SWEET POTATO BISCUITS
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 envelope of active, dry yeast (3/8 tsp)
1/4 cup warm water
2-1/2 cups white flour
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat milk in a saucepan until it's just about to boil, then stir in mashed sweet potato, sugar, salt and melted butter. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a big bowl and let it sit 10 minutes. Blend flour and sweet-potato mixture into that, cover and let rise overnight. Roll out on a floured board, cut biscuits with a biscuit-cutter and put them on a buttered baking sheet to rise again for 1/2 hour-to-1 hour.
Bake at 375 degrees 15-to-18 minutes, until slightly brown on top.
Makes 12-to-18 biscuits.