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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June garden purchases (yes, I need more tomato plants)

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, June 2, 2015

I like to start plants from seed, even plants like tomatoes and peppers. Because I started them late, my tomatoes were pretty tiny when I first planted them. Most of them have survived and are looking healthy, just not very big, as you can see. 

The weeds, of course, look ridiculously happy and healthy. Dang weeds... 


I have at least 22 tomato plants that are all about this size. I think I have seven or eight varieties, including some heirloom, some hybrid, some beefsteak and some Roma. Any normal, sane person would say that’s enough tomato plants.
When it comes to gardening, I’m not sure I’m a normal, sane person, because while I was at Bookcliff Gardens over the weekend, I bought two more tomato plants.


In my defense, I bought plants with tomatoes already on them so I wouldn’t have to wait until August to get my first home-grown tomato.

 

I also bought two pineapple tomatillo plants because in spite of leaving hundreds of little pineapple tomatillos on the ground last fall, I didn’t think any overwintered, sprouted and grew, like my regular tomatillos do every year.
Then I got home, pulled a few more weeds out of the pineapple tomatillo bed and discovered this tiny little tomatillo growing here, next to the bug-chewed zinnia. I can’t tell by looking at it if it’s a pineapple tomatillo or a regular one, but since I never had regular ones growing here and had hundreds of pineapple tomatillos fall to the ground in this bed, I’m assuming it’s a pineapple tomatillo.
I also planted a few peppers and melons and scattered zinnia and marigold seeds in the bed, so it should be a wild-looking jungle by August.  

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Do perennial flowers change color from year to year?

By Penny Stine
Friday, May 29, 2015

I have a bunch of perennials in my gardens because I don't want to plant annual flowers every year in addition to all the veggies I plant in the garden. Last year, I let the columbines do whatever they wanted and I learn that what they want to do 

is take over the world, so this year, I pulled a lot of them out and reclaimed the space to plant potatoes, kale, Swiss chard and beets. I didn't feel bad at all, especially because my columbines were a simple, boring, monochrome yellow. 

So here is one columbine I decided to let grow. See the pretty two-tone color? I would almost swear that it wasn't this color last year... I really like the yellow and peach color, but if it self sows and spreads columbines everywhere, I will be ruthless and yank them out next spring. I like plants I can eat more than pretty flowers. 

 

 

In some places, I have flowering perennials because the area is too shady for vegetables, like here, where there's a catmint and some ever-present columbine, which is also two-toned, with yellow and red instead of the yellow and peach color. I don't remember seeing a yellow and red one last year, either. 

Does anyone know anything about columbines and their color? I know hydrangeas will change color, depending on soil conditions. Is it possible that columbines also do that? So much to know...

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Even when I’m out of town, I can’t stay away from the dirt

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, May 27, 2015

We went to Denver last weekend to visit our sons. While we were there, I helped our youngest son with his front yard garden. Be still, my beating heart, and yes, I do  think it's pretty cool that my 23-year old son likes to grow flowers and veggies in his front yard. 
We pulled tons of weeds and grass, which he should have done last summer, but didn’t. He likes to plant veggies so they grow in between the flowering perennials in front, and then he has a strip on the side that runs the length of the house that’s covered in giant sunflowers. It actually looks pretty cool, although his tree needs another coat of paint.
 

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Lettuce reconsider

By Penny Stine
Friday, May 22, 2015

Just when I say I’m done with lettuce, I take a nibble and change my mind. I planted the lettuce in this pot back in late February. The red leaf lettuce grew quickly and was big enough to pick long before the green was. I picked it and it was disgusting. Bitter, vile and nasty.


The green leaf stuff was quite a bit smaller, but I sampled it and it was OK. The other day, I was picking spinach for a salad, so I decided to try the green stuff again now that it’s a little bigger. It was actually good! So I picked a bunch to put in my salad and a bunch for my morning smoothie.

 

The red stuff was still awful. At least it’s pretty in my container.

 

 

I discovered this lettuce growing out where I’ve transplanted raspberries and am expecting the tomatillos to take over later in the summer. It’s called Trout’s Back lettuce, and I planted it last year. It must have gone to seed, since I have more this summer. Last year, it was just OK. I sampled a tiny bit (since it’s not quite big enough to pick) and it wasn’t too bad, so I’ll leave it be in hopes that all the cool, wet weather will help it taste better than it did last year.

 

Back in February when I planted the lettuce in the containers on my deck, I had a few seeds left over, so I scattered them in a southern flower bed. Although I watered, they didn’t germinate. Until just a few weeks ago, and now here they are, looking ready to produce greens for the next month or so. Good thing it’s the green leaf and not the red leaf, or I’d just yank it out.

There’s also a zinnia starting to grow next to the lettuce. I like to scatter zinnia and giant marigold seeds in this bed, where I also have sweet peppers and melons. It’s right out in front of the house, so the flowers make it seem more like a cheerful flowerbed than one more vegetable plot.  

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What not to do when planting asparagus

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Since I don’t know where I can find asparagus growing near an irrigation ditch, I had to plant some in my garden. I decided to scatter it and plant it in several areas, like I do with almost everything else I grow in the garden. That was a really stupid idea.
For one thing, I tend to forget from year to year where exactly I planted it, and since it grows in the spring and then disappears, occasionally I have dug or chopped into the roots by accident later in the summer or fall or the late winter before it starts growing.
When I’m checking for asparagus, I pretty much have to do a full garden stroll, since it’s now growing in four different areas in the yard. It is kind of like looking for buried treasure, except that it's not buried. It is easy to miss, however, when it's growing and surrounded by something else, like the mint in the photo. Sometimes, I’ll forget to check one area and then go out a few days later and discover a beautiful stalk of asparagus that’s now two feet tall, stringy and inedible.
I do love having asparagus in the yard, and since I’ve been fertilizing it this year with the Alaska Fish Fertilizer, I’m getting a lot more. It tastes so much better than anything I’ve ever purchased. Plus, it’s one of those spring crops that provide inspiration to get out there and plant.

I bought the roots at Bookcliff Gardens, and this is a variety called Purple Jersey, I think. It seems expensive when you buy it, but it's a perennial plant that will continue to produce for years. Worth the money if you like asparagus.  

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