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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Daffodils in a new, sunny bed

By Penny Stine
Friday, March 21, 2014

I was home at lunch a couple of days ago, so I snapped this photo of my March daffodils. They’re loving the warm weather and sunshine, as you can see.

In the summer, this flower bed is inundated with parsley and mint. There’s also some thyme in there, along with a pretty daisy and a large clump of fuchsia yarrow. The parsley and the mint kinda take over, and I always let them, because this bed used to be shady all summer, thanks to a silver maple tree that grew in the front yard.

As you can see by this pic, the silver maple is gone. It had been slowly dying for three or four years, so we put it out of its misery last fall. We planted a sensation boxelder, but it’s still pretty small. Howie the dog loves the sunny yard. At least in March. Come July he'll be hanging out under a shade tree. 

My gardening buddy, Jan of the awesome garden, pointed out this is now the sunniest spot in my yard.

Needless to say, I’m going to be digging up all the mint, which has already started to grow. Once the daffies and the tulips behind them finish blooming, I’m going to dig those up and replant them somewhere else.
The yarrow, thyme and daisies can stay. The mint and parsley are dead to me now. I’m going to put a couple of pepper plants, a cantalope and a couple of pineapple tomatillos in this valuable, sun-soaked space.


More early crop news

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I said I'd give an update and here it is (but first the back story.)  I saw the first crocus blooming in my yard in February. I also noticed some sunny spots that are shady in the summertime due to leaves that show up on neighbor's trees. So I wondered if I could plant cold-hardy beets in those sunny spaces. I did and look what I saw today.

I'm pretty sure this is a tiny beet. Well, actually it looks like two tiny beets, which is weird because I made sure to plant only one seed. I read somewhere that beets have a tendency to produce more than one beet from a seed, so thinning is necessary even if you're careful to plant one seed at a time. I also have a few beets coming up in the other plot.

Was it necessary to plant them in February? I don't know. They're getting some nice sunshine right now that they won't get by the end of April thanks to the leaves on the trees. I'll have to hand water them, but hey, I might be picking beets by May.

Cool, huh?


Let the 2014 outdoor garden season begin!

By Penny Stine
Monday, March 17, 2014

Technically, my 2014 gardening season began last November, when I planted garlic and spinach to overwinter for 2014 harvesting. Or maybe even in February, when I planted beets outside and got some plants started inside. But we won't worry about technicalities. Once I start setting up trellises and planting entire packets of seeds, that's when I know it's serious. 

My mom, who lives in Nebraska and gives me all sorts of good gardening advice, told me that St. Patrick's Day was the traditional date to plant peas. Since I had to work on St. Patty's day, I planted them on Sunday. I still had four and a half packets of pea seeds left over from my pea-growing winter experiment, so I planted them on both sides of this trellis.I didn't attach the netting as firmly as I normally do, since I was just happy to finally get it untangled and was done messing with it yesterday. So I may have to retrieve it from where it has blown into the fence and spend another half an hour untangling it. 

This garden is shady in the morning and sunny in the afternoon. I'm hoping it will be a good place for peas. Usually, I plant snow peas, but since I had all those leftover packets of regular peas, that's what I planted. I'm sure I'll eat some of the plants as pea shoots while allowing some to grow up the netting on the trellis. I wanted to use up all the garlic before I planted peas, but I didn't, so now I'm thinking I'll plant a couple of tomatoes in the middle of my row of peas, because by the time it gets warm enough to plant tomatoes, I'm sure the garlic will be picked and turned into pesto. 

It was so exciting to be outside planting in the garden. I had to drag out the hose to spray a little water after I planted, but that's OK.

Btw, if anyone is wondering, I planted beets outside a day or two after the first crocus bloomed in my yard. I think I see a few sprouting. It took a while, but then again, it has been pretty chilly at night. I will take pics in a couple of days when I'm sure that what is sprouting is a baby beet plant and not a weed!

Why do weeds never have any issues with sprouting too early and freezing?  


It’s free! It’s fun! and it’s cheaper than therapy

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Springtime! It was beautiful over the weekend and it feels like it could snow today. We set up one of my trellises over the weekend so I can plant peas next weekend. Between now and then, I have to pick the garlic that got overlooked last year when I was harvesting and add some more compost to the soil.

When I got home from work last night, it was nice enough for one of my favorite activities, thanks to daylight savings time.

Yes, last night, I went for my first garden stroll of the season as soon as I got home, found a few herbs (and onions) that were big enough to pick and incorporated them into to my dinner plans.


I picked some garlic, and as you can see, the bulb's not much. Not a problem, I wanted the greens. Garlic scape (as the greens are called) is wonderful. If you let it grow to full size, some types of garlic do this awesome curlicue. Even if they don't curl, they taste delish, with a mild garlic flavor.



I added that to my pasta sauce.


Then I picked some green onions, sorrel, arugula and peas. OK, I had to pick the peas, arugula and half the sorrel from my living room planters. I added all of that to a salad.
It was all good, and wandering around in my garden, even if the majority of it was still brown and dry, made me happy.
I'm telling ya', gardening is so much cheaper than therapy and probably just as effective.  


Signs of spring veggies

By Penny Stine
Monday, March 10, 2014

I was out cleaning up my garden yesterday and look what I saw!

Hmmmm…. I better explain what it is.

This is the tiny tip of a stalk of asparagus. I planted some sort of purple asparagus from Bookcliff Gardens last year and ignored it. Some experts say you're not supposed to harvest for three years, while others say harvest sparingly starting in year one. Last year, the stalks were extremely thin and spindly, so I didn't pick a single one.
This one, however, looks like it could be big enough to eat once it emerges fully from the ground. So, of course, I will be happy to chow down on it. Before I can do that, however, I'll probably have to drag a hose out to the garden, since irrigation water won't be in for another month, but that's a small price to pay for spring veggies from the garden.
Speaking of spring veggies, some of the spinach I planted in November is getting its true leaves. It will remain small throughout March (unless I give it more water), but should be big enough to start picking in April.  

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