Let's Get Dirty

A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.

Send stories and pictures of your horticultural adventures to letsgetdirty@gjsentinel.com.

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A little buried

By Penny Stine
Monday, February 1, 2016

There are carrots that I left in the ground because they were too small to pick last fall, as well as some little tiny spinach seedlings that I spied after the December snowfall melted (and before this latest snow fell) under all this snow.
I’m sure the spinach will be quite happy. Not so sure about the carrots. I still haven’t figured out if overwintering works for carrots. Last year, I had quite a few carrots that overwintered, although they were a bit on the short side. It was a lot warmer last winter, and I didn’t bother mulching any of them this year, so we’ll see if I’m pulling carrots in May.
The garlic and additional spinach in the back yard is also buried under four inches of snow. It will probably be twice as tall when the snow finally melts, thanks to all the moisture in the snow.
Right now, NOAA still says upper 30s over the coming weekend. It cannot melt fast enough for me. If I wanted to live in snow, I’d move to Minnesota.  


This is a cool thing to grow in January!

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My son bought me an oyster mushroom kit for Christmas, and it has given me something to grow in the dreary cold of January. Last year, I bought a kit from Park Seed, and although it wasn’t difficult to get started, it was a little messier. This kit was incredibly simple, with no mess.


The directions on the box are easy to follow in order to get the mushrooms to start growing, and what’s cool is that they grow in a plastic bag (after you've gotten the soil thoroughly wet & put a couple slits in plastic) right in the box.

When I first started it, I put it on the floor in a corner of my kitchen next to a heat radiator. That was a bone-headed thing to do. After several days of no action, I realized my mistake and moved the box to the kitchen counter.

Within days, I could see some growth. To be honest, it looked a little icky at first… after all, mushrooms are a fungus. They grow and change every day, which is pretty cool. Even my husband, who is not a gardener, has been intrigued with these. This would be really great with kids.

I’ve been Googling to see when to pick them, and to be honest, I’m not sure I’m gonna get it right. All the photos of oyster mushrooms that I’ve seen show these cream-colored mushrooms, so I’m waiting until these change color. Or until I can’t stand it anymore and decide to pick them.

As you can see by this second pic, they get bigger every day, so who know's what they'll look like when I go home from work. The box says 10 days to harvest, but unfortunately, I forgot to write down the day I moved them to the counter. 

What’s cool about this particular kit is that after you harvest the mushrooms on this side of the box, you start the growing process all over again, so mushrooms grow out of the other side of the box!

I’ve never cooked with oyster mushrooms simply because the grocery stores don’t carry them, but I’m planning on doing a stir-fry with them as the star.

For gardeners like me who are anxiously awaiting springtime, a mushroom box is a pretty cool way to get your growing fix.
This one is from a company called Back to the Roots, and they can be ordered online for $19.99.


January spinach

By Penny Stine
Monday, January 18, 2016

I went home at lunch and decided to stroll out to the garden spot in the back yard, since that was the only garden spot that wasn’t still covered in snow. Look what I found!
For those who don’t recognize it, that’s what spinach looks like when it sprouts. 


What’s growing in January?

By Penny Stine
Monday, January 11, 2016

While snow is still covering most of my garden, at least the mounds of snow aren’t (for the moment) growing. In fact, they’re starting to melt. So yesterday afternoon, when I was tired of feeling like a prisoner in my house, I decided to walk out to my garden areas and see if the spinach or garlic was up.
The spinach was still buried under the snow in all the places that I remember planting it. It may have sprouted, but I wasn’t going to dig under the snow in search of it.
The elephant garlic, however, is up in one area! Woo-hoo!
I try to change where I plant garlic every year and don’t remember where else I might have planted it, but I’m sure it will sprout as soon as the snow melts.
Yay, spring is coming! There may be Grand Junction folks who love the winter, but for me, I just try to endure and overcome in the wintertime. January lasts longer than June, July and August combined…. 


Tomatillo fix: Neutralizing the acidity

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I made some posole in the crockpot on Sunday, and I used a large pork roast and some frozen tomatoes and tomatillos from my garden. Although it was good, it was a little too meaty and not very soupy. I had tons left, so I froze half of it and decided to make the other half soupier by adding a home-canned jar of tomatillo sauce. 

After dumping in an entire quart, I stirred and let it cook for a bit before tasting. Then discovered that it was so tart and tomatillo-ey, that I knew my darling hubby wouldn't like it. I mean, I didn't really like it. So I frantically googled to see what I could do. If I had a stronger background in chemistry, this solution might have come to me, but since I have a strong background in conjugating verbs, it did not. I read a kitchen fix that said to add baking soda, so I tried it, one teaspoon at a time. It bubbled up when I first added it, but after stirring it in thoroughly, I gave it a try. It was amazing what a difference it made. Still tart, so I cautiously added more baking soda until it lost that acidic bite that can make tomatillos so unappealing. I think I ended up adding about 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda to my stew. 

Of course, I forgot to take a photo. Trust me, it was good, although truth be told, it wasn't that appealing to look at... 

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