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, February 7, 2014
Check this out:
Every year, I take a photo of these determined little bulbs that push their way out of the ground as soon as the snow melts outside the back door of the Daily Sentinel.
Every year, I identify them as crocuses. I'm proved wrong a few weeks later, when the real crocuses pop up and start blooming on their very first day out of the ground, while these gradually get taller and bloom a few weeks later and I realize they're daffodils.
So I'm staking my reputation on the line here and saying these are not crocuses. If I'm wrong, they'll be blooming by Monday, so that's a win. If I'm right, the crocuses won't be too far behind, so it's still a win. And these will be blooming in another month or so, so it's a double-whammy win.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Usually, when I'm using something from yard or garden this time of year, it comes via the freezer (or the living room greenhouse). On Sunday, we were going to a party to watch the football game that must not be named, and I wanted to make an unusual appetizer using figs.
I googled fig appetizers and found one that combined figs, blue cheese, fresh sage leaves and prosciutto. It sounded intriguing and although my sage looks sad and half-dead, the leaves are still full of flavor.
I had the figs at home, but had to buy the blue cheese and prosciutto. Then I went out into the cold to pick a handful of sage. Like I said, it looks pretty pathetic this time of year, but the flavor is fine.
I cut off the hard stem of the fig, stuffed it with a bit of blue cheese, topped it with a sage leaf and then wrapped it in the prosciutto. The recipe said to grill or sauté them, but I didn't feel like doing either one, so I I broiled them for a few minutes.
I thought they were pretty good, but they didn't seem to be a hit at the party, which meant I got to take leftovers home. I wasn't sure how they would taste after sitting in the fridge for a day, but when I got home from work and working out after work last night, I was hungry, so I popped one in the microwave for about 7 seconds just to take the chill off and warm it slightly.
It was fabulous. Seriously, it was better than I thought it was when I first made it. I have no idea whether the flavors gradually melded together to create a better taste sensation or whether hunger just warped my taste buds. Either way, I'm quite pleased that there are five more in the fridge.
By Penny Stine
Friday, January 31, 2014
I know skiers, resort owners and anyone who depends on winter to make a buck is tickled pink with the latest winter storm, but I am not.
Just when the snow and ice from December was finally melting, what do we get?
At least I won't have to water the spinach that was starting to come up and I know from past experience that this winter weather won't bother it much at all, but that still doesn't make me happy. I don't care that it's the last day of January, I live in Colorado and snow is to be expected…
When it comes to winter, I'm somewhat irrational. After a couple of months I'm ready for it to be over so I can get back into my garden.
At least I got an e-mail confirmation from both Park Seed and Territorial Seed that my orders have shipped!
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Technically, what I picked in the living room wasn't really micro greens, since the plants in my living room are older than a week. It was an assortment of several odd things I'm experimenting with in the living room, however, and micro green salad sounds better than living room greenhouse salad. I picked arugula, pea shoots and red-veined sorrel for my salad. You can tell by the pic that they're not micro greens, since some of the leaves are several inches long.
The arugula in the living room doesn't seem to be as mustard-like as other arugula I've grown in the past. Is it because it's in the gentle confines of the living room rather than the harsh reality of the outdoors?
It's certainly not because it gets watered more often than anything outside - I've been letting my indoor plants dry out between watering in an effort to rid my house of gnats. It's not working. Ditto for the sand. My peas are turning brown, however, in a silent cry for more water.
My husband says he can't stand arugula and sees no need for me to grow it, but I didn't tell him it was in last night's salad, and he said the salad was great. It's an arugula seed from Park Seed that I ordered last fall called sweet oakleaf. I still have seeds left over after planting some in the living room, so come late March, I'm planting it out in the garden, too. I don't know that I want to chow down on a plate of plain arugula, but it was good mixed with pea shoots, sorrel and cilantro. It made me feel like I was eating in a posh restaurant, except that I didn't have to pay anyone afterward. And I did have to help with the dishes.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
There are plenty of people who say that gardening doesn't save anybody any money whatsoever. They claim that by the time you add up the cost of seeds, plants, dirt, soil amendments, water, pest deterrents and the costs to actually build a garden, it's cheaper to just go buy produce at the grocery store.
Obviously, there's money in garden supplies, or I wouldn't be receiving garden catalogs in the mail every other day. These are only half of the ones I've found in my mailbox so far in 2014. My friend, Jan, has the rest.
While it can seem expensive in the years that you're putting in the bones of a garden - buying all the bits for irrigation, and the edging, boxes or whatever you're using to define the garden space, I've always suspected that yes, gardening saves a boatload of money, but people don't want to say that because it's also a boatload of work. Those that don't enjoy garden work can simply write it off as an expensive hobby they're smart enough to not pursue.
If gardening didn't save people money, why did everyone do it during the depression and World War II years? I think we eat something from my garden (either picked that day or picked from the freezer or the canning shelf) almost every day.
Because I like research (even when not done in a truly scientific fashion), I decided 2014 would be my test year to determine how much money I spend on my garden and how much produce I actually get for all that money.
I should have started this on Jan. 1, but I didn't think about it then. I'm going to include all the frozen and canned stuff that came from my 2013 garden in this year's garden credits, even though the expenses came out of my 2013 pocket.
I'll keep a running tally of garden bounty consumed and a running tally of expenses. Who knows, I may even go back and try to amortize the initial expense of changing the irrigation system and building the garden boundaries and add in a yearly expense based on a five-year amortization.
I'll keep you informed.
OK, since I posted this first thing this morning, I managed to create a spreadsheet to tally garden goodies versus garden expenses. I'd love it if a few other gardeners would join me in my experiment and will be happy to send you the spread sheet. So give me an e-mail address if you're willing to play along!