Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Friday, July 22, 2016
I planted three different types of cucumbers from seed this year, Suyo long, Sir Crunch a-lot and Marketmore. I ordered the first two from catalogs, but picked up the Marketmore at a hardware store when I realized the bugs every every single cucumber I planted on my front cucumber trellis. They then proceeded to eat all the Marketmore ones, too. I have one more cucumber plant in a flower pot, and I can’t remember what kind it is.
The bugs didn’t find the Suyo long, which are growing on the trellis in the photo. There’s also a morning glory on the trellis that came up on its own. The last (and only) time I planted morning glory in that spot was probably six or seven years ago. I recognized it and thought it would be pretty on the trellis, so I let it stay there this year. It does look good in the morning.
The Suyo long cucumber plants are supposed to be extremely prolific, producing cukes that are never bitter and last all season long, so the reviews say. I had three on the vine, and although they’re supposed to routinely reach 12 to 18 inches, I was curious and tasted the first one when it was only six or seven inches long. It was bitter, and I was so disappointed.
I mean, every other cucumber plant died, I’ve got these Suyos thriving, but producing nasty cucumbers! I decided to let the other two on the plant get a little bigger and try again later. The catalog said to plant them on a trellis if you wanted straight cucumbers. I planted mine near a trellis, but am not getting straight cucumbers, even from the vines that are growing on the trellis.
Can you see the bright green cucumber curving around the pepper plant in the photo?
I’m happy to say that when I tasted the one I picked last night, it wasn’t bitter at all. It didn’t have the crisp crunchiness of other cucumbers, but it wasn’t mushy, either.
And even though it was probably 10 to 12 inches long, I think I picked it a little too early. I’m going to let the other one remain on the vine for another few days before I pick it. I saw that the plants are forming lots of little cucumbers, so I’m hoping they remain sweet.
By Penny Stine
Monday, July 18, 2016
I’ve had some bad bean luck this year. I set up a trellis in a new area and planted both sides of it with a variety called tenderstar. Half the seeds got washed away by an irrigation problem, and those that came up got chomped by an unknown bug.
I reordered from Vermont Bean Seed Company, and got two different types of pole beans, blauhilde, which is a purple-podded pole bean and a long bean called liana. Both germinated well, and in spite of a liberal sprinkling of Sevin, something chomped on the tender first leaves of almost all of the liana and some of the blauhilde. I'm hoping to get quite a few of the purple ones even though fewer than a third of the seeds I planted seem to have survived. Pole beans produce a lot of beans.
Yes, I know there are a lot of weeds and grass in there. There is not enough time in my life to grow a weed-free garden.
I had a few tenderstar bean seeds that I planted along this tomato cage, and as you can see, they’re looking pretty good.The flower on these is red, but the bean is green. It’s a cross between a scarlett runner bean and some type of bean that’s supposed to have delicious flavor.
I also have my coat rack, which I always use for beans and this interesting teepee-type of support that I built when I cut branches off the neighbor’s annoying Russian olive tree that hangs way, way, way over my garden. I planted a variety called northeastern, which is a flat-podded Roma. I love flat-podded Roma-style beans.
Look what I found when I did a quick garden stroll at lunch time! I’m going to have to do more careful searching after work today. Perhaps I actually have enough to eat with dinner.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
I love growing summer squash, although here in the Grand Valley it can be a challenge due to the presence of squash bugs. I hate squash bugs. They have no redeeming qualities. After they chomped several of my squashes and destroyed them as soon as they got out of the ground, and I found two more squash bugs cavorting on a tiny summer squash, I decided to get serious about pesticides and bought a spray bottle of Sevin, along with a shaker can of Sevin dust.
It worked, and the plant survived. I could see little squashes forming before the plant had even bloomed. As they got bigger, I could tell they were a new variety I’m trying this year, Bossa Nova hybrid. It’s supposed to produce earlier than other varieties (it did!) and last longer in the season, after the other ones have quit producing. The light green color with darker mottling is also interesting, although it may make it trickier to find the squash once the plants get bigger.
I had two that were 8 to 10 inches long, but I forgot to take a photo of them on the vine, or even on the counter after I picked them. The photo is the portion of one that didn’t get used in my summer squash lasagna.
I sampled some raw just to see what it tasted like, and I was very impressed. I don’t usually enjoy chomping down on raw squash, but this was pretty tasty. It was also delicious in the lasagna.
The plant has a couple more little squashes forming, and I’m looking forward to eating them. I’ve also got some of the yellow enterprise hybrid forming on a different plant, which I grew last year, with very favorable results.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, July 7, 2016
I hate to accuse the seed catalog of lying, so I'll just say that perhaps in an ideal garden, the Clear Pink Early tomatoes really are ready 58 days from setting out transplants. Mine, clearly are not. Although these are not a cherry tomato variety, they are on the small side. I don't think the largest one in this pic will get much bigger, so perhaps it will begin to ripen. I know a watched pot doesn't boil, but I firmly believe that the more times I wander out to inspect the tomatoes, the more the plant will make an effort to get them ripe.
By Penny Stine
Friday, July 1, 2016
I’ve been digging up my garlic in the last month, starting with the Korean red garlic and then continuing with the other varieties (and I can’t remember what they are). The Korean red was an early variety, and it was definitely ready to dig. I thought my other garlic was, too, since it was starting to dry up, with the tops turning brown.
When I dug it, however, the papery husk wasn’t quite formed, and that’s what helps the garlic stay good for months, so I decided to leave the rest of it in the ground for another week or two. Now I just hope the tops don’t turn brown and wither away, since I won’t remember where exactly, I planted the garlic.
I’m not too worried, since I have quite a bit already.
So far, I like the flavor of the Korean red, although to be honest, I can’t really tell it from any other garlic.
I like to leave the garlic out on my picnic table without washing it for several weeks (and sometimes a month, if I get lazy), which allows it to cure. Then I can brush away the dirt and either braid it, if the tops are soft and pliable, or just chop off the top and store it in a canvas bag in the fridge.