Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
I bought a packet of hybrid cucumber seeds a month or so ago from Park Seed with the intention of growing them in my living room this winter.
What? doesn't everybody garden in the living room in the winter?
Normally, cucumbers need bees for pollination, but this particular seed was supposed to produce all female plants that didn't need to be pollinated. According to the seed catalog, it's also supposed to produce cucumbers in 45 days.
It's been seven weeks since I planted the seeds, so these are a little slower than advertised. I have to admit, however, that the growing conditions in my living room aren't the best. I'm not using any artificial light or heat, so these cukes are getting just what comes in through the picture window.
And we're cheap and chilly - we have programmable thermostats that we turn down to about 60 degrees at night and only turn up to 67 for a couple hours in the morning and back up to 65 for a couple hours in the evening.
I don't know if you can tell by these photos, but this plant is about to blossom and there is a little tiny cucumber already forming at the not-yet-opened flower. Pretty cool. Even if I don't get many cucumbers this winter in my living room, I'm thinking these will be a good addition to the garden in the spring, where they probably will produce cucumbers in about 45 days.
This particular seed is called Cool Breeze Hybrid and it's on sale right now on the Park Seed website for $1.50 per packet. So much cheaper than therapy.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Every day, our mailbox is full of catalogs. I look through a few and admire the flannel shirts from L.L.Bean and then toss most of them in the recycle bin.
Except for these.
That's right. My first three catalogs of the 2014 gardening season, full of promise that my garden will be beautiful, tasty and the best-producing garden ever.
With snow and cold temperatures lingering for who knows how long, these catalogs will become more and more important to my sanity.
By Penny Stine
Monday, December 2, 2013
I guess this really is the end. With more snow forecast for tomorrow and the next day accompanied by even the cold-hardiest killing frosts, I should probably go pick the few remaining leeks and the one remaining celery root.
If I wait, the ground will get too hard to pull anything loose.
I picked these a week or two ago when we got snow on a Saturday and my husband decided it would be a good day to make vegetable beef soup. Although we used some fresh and some frozen vegetables, we also used leeks and celery root that I pulled that day.
Yes, I had to uncover the celery root before I could pull it. Luckily, I remembered where it was, since the garden was covered in snow.
I still have a few herbs out there that I'll try to pick tonight, too, even if I end up picking by flashlight, since it's almost dark by 5 p.m.
I'm sure the neighbors think I'm nuts, since they drive by and wave to me when I'm out bundled up in the garden in December, but I don't care.
After all, I've got this to show for my efforts - isn't it a beauty?
OK, so celery root won't win any prizes for its looks. but it is kinda cool to be pulling something out of a garden this late in the season.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Yes, I know, it's not the lettuce's fault that it's bad. As a responsible gardener, it's my duty to provide the right growing conditions if I want a specific crop to be good.
I planted this lettuce at the beginning of fall, thinking that it would be quite happy in the cooler weather. It's a butter crunch type of lettuce, which I've grown in the past and which has been sweet. Sometimes.
I thought it was the hot weather that made my lettuce so awful, but after tasting this lettuce, I realized it was probably a lack of water, since I try to water about once every three days during growing season. I didn't water as much in the fall as we were nearing the end of irrigation season, and this lettuce hasn't received any extra watering from me since the irrigation water has been off.
After picking a few leaves (which I was hoping to add to my pea shoot salad), I tasted them and discovered they were bitter beyond belief. So they went in the compost bin. I left the lettuce in the ground out of curiosity, just to see if the cold weather kills it or weather it will survive the winter. You never know…
But I did learn that next spring, I should plant lettuce next to the newly seeded carrots, which I always water more often than other parts of the garden to encourage those little carrot seeds to sprout. Of course, the lettuce will probably bolt by July and the tomatoes won't get ripe until August, but maybe I'll have a couple early season salads.
By Penny Stine
Monday, November 25, 2013
I decided the pea shoots in the living room were large enough to try to star in a salad. I found a recipe that just used pea shoots and shaved parmesan cheese in a lemon vinaigrette and decided to give it a whirl.
I meant to take a photo of the salad in the salad bowl, but forgot. So here it is on my plate.
The good news is that it was good - what there was of it. My husband also thought it was tasty, but he agreed that he could have easily consumed more. When pea shoots are the only real ingredient in a salad, you need a lot of them. I probably had a scant three cups before adding the dressing, which reduced it to less than two cups of salad.
The good news is that I finally confessed to my husband that I was growing a little garden in the living room on my plant shelf. Not that I was hiding it - the planters are out in plain site and all, but he never noticed them. Since he thought the pea shoot salad was fab, he didn't seem to care.
So of course, I planted more the next day...