Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Thursday, June 19, 2014
I broke my Vitamix blender due to my own carelessness about three weeks ago and have been missing it ever since. The company is fixing it, but it feels like it’s taking forever and I miss my morning smoothies. I am not, however, ready for Soylent.
Has anyone else heard of this? It’s been in the news on and off for months. A California engineer decided food was a waste of time and money, so he developed a formula for a nutritional shake that’s supposed to replace food and be cheaper - he launched his company through a crowdsource fundraiser and touts it as a way to combat global food scarcity issues. The website asks, "What if you never had to worry about food again?" and touts the benefits of no more meal preparation or shopping.
This is the review I read a few weeks ago and I couldn’t agree more. I wouldn't necessarily miss grocery shopping, but I love to cook - with real food. Even making a smoothie in my Vitamix involves putting in real fruit, veggies, nuts and yogurt.
Food is more than simple energy for the body. It’s cultural, it’s experiential, it’s an art and it’s a hobby. It’s also an incredible social experience, and when you grow a vegetable garden, it magnifies all of that.
My favorite thing to do in the summer as a way to wind down from work is to walk out in the garden and figure out what I’m going to pick for dinner. Going to the fridge for my Soylent shake wouldn’t be the same. Sure, I’d have more time if I didn’t wander around out in the garden and then fuss with it all in the kitchen, but I believe time spent in the garden and the kitchen is time well spent.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
I was chatting about garlic scapes with Carol Clark, who works here at the Sentinel as an advertising sales rep, and she sent me a link to a recipe for carbonara with garlic scapes. I didn’t actually follow it last night, but it did give me inspiration for dinner.
I also decided to pick some fresh peas and onions and put those in the carbonara, too. As you can see, it looked like a lot of peas while they were still in the pod.
Once I started shelling the peas, I realized I’m no good at figuring out which pea pods had decent-sized peas and which had puny peas. Some of the pods seemed nice and fat, but the peas inside were still small. Of course, the smaller ones are also the sweeter ones.
Once they were shelled, it didn’t seem like a lot of peas, but it was enough since they were going in the pasta. After I sautéed the bacon, I took it out and cooked the onions and garlic scape until they were tender and turning brown, I put the raw peas in the sauté pan with a little tiny bit of water. The burner was a little hotter than medium, and as the water evaporated, the peas steamed.
Then I tossed the cooked pasta with the egg and cream mixture (to which I had added the crumbled bacon), added some parmesan cheese and all the veggies.
Isn’t it pretty? It was pretty good, too. I thought they were the best peas ever, but my husband said he couldn’t tell the difference between my fresh-picked peas and the frozen ones from the store!
By Penny Stine
Monday, June 16, 2014
I did a really stupid thing to my garden last fall. When we had our almost-dead silver maple cut down, I had someone come and grind out the stump. Although they hauled most of the tree and the chips away, I had them leave a pile of wood chips on a tarp. I hauled them to various places in my garden and mixed the wood with the garden soil, thinking it would decompose and I was doing my garden a favor by adding organic matter.
So much for thinking… I really should have known better. Decomposed stuff is great. Still living (OK, it was almost dead, but technically, that means it was still alive) is not so good. In fact, it’s downright disastrous, as evidenced by these pics.
This is a spot where I planted a tomato that remained miniature and then got chomped by a critter of some kind. Then I planted squash that never came up.
I also planted squash here. Last year, there were tomatillos here. You know you’ve done a horrific thing to your garden soil if the tomatillos aren’t coming back.
And look at my lovely bean trellis. There are a couple of beans coming up, but I probably planted 35 seeds, so five bean plants is nothing to get excited about.
I went to Bookcliff Gardens and confessed my stupidity. They said the best thing to do was to just wait until next year.
I can’t do that. It would make me way too sad. Besides, a few things are valiantly putting up a struggle to live. In spots that I didn’t put as much wood chips in, everything’s looking fine. Carol at Bookcliff said I could try adding ammonium sulfate, which is nitrogen, to my garden soil. The wood chips are using up all the available nitrogen and starving my plants, so adding nitrogen may help. I probably won’t have a great garden, but I may get something.
Most of the tomatoes I started from seed stayed small and then got chomped, although a few that I put in other places look great. I purchased some tomatoes from Bookcliff several weeks ago, and I added a little ammonium sulfate to the soil around them a week later, and most of them are looking OK.
The weeds and the love-in-a-mist flowers don't seem hindered by the wood chips. I just hope that the squash bugs think that since the garden has no squash yet, they'd better be moving on.
I’ve used up most of my seeds (replanting several times will do that), but not to worry. I had a $19 credit at Park Seed and they were running a clearance sale on seeds. I got six packets of seeds. I figure I have a couple of nights to work the nitrogen into the soil and water it, and I’ll be replanting maybe by the weekend, if the seeds come in the mail by then.
By Penny Stine
Friday, June 13, 2014
When I was a kid growing up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, my mom had a big garden and grew lots of peas. My sister in Laramie can grow great peas. Here, they don’t seem too happy once it gets really hot.
So far, mine are fairly content. I usually grow a pea with an edible pod simply because you have to grow so many to get enough for a meal if you have to shell them. This year, however, I had a ton of pea seeds left over from my winter indoor pea-growing experiment, so I planted them on my trellis.
I think the variety was called Mr. Big, and the pods do seem pretty large, with 6 or more peas inside.
I found two that looked like the peas were big on the inside when I went home at lunch, so I shelled them and ate them raw just because I was curious.
They were really, really tasty.
I think I’ll give them the weekend to fill out and then by Monday, I’ll go on a hunt to find enough to cook for dinner. Who knows how long the peas will be happy growing in my garden - it probably depends on when it hits 95 degrees on a consistent basis and doesn’t cool off to 60 at night.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Check this out. This little miniature rose bush was smothered in bindweed last summer. I’m pretty certain that the bindweed mites I bought from the Palisade insectary last summer and carefully placed on this bush migrated underground and bred all winter long.
I looked at the backside of this plant and I could see a few curled and stunted bindweed stems, but nothing like the healthy bindweed in other parts of my yard (where the mites obviously didn’t get fully established).
I did notice some weird-looking bindweed coming up in a nearby bed, so I’m hoping the mites are still alive in other places in my yard, too.
If not, I can always go back to the insectary for more bindweed mites.