Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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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.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
I've got snapdragons growing in various places in my garden, which I love because I don't have to do anything to them to make them look pretty. Usually, they're a single, solid color. In fact, I don't remember seeing two-toned ones before, but a fellow gardener here at the Sentinel said she remembers her mother having two-toned snapdragons in her garden, so I guess they're not that unusual.
They are kinda cool-looking.
By Penny Stine
Monday, June 9, 2014
This is the best time of year for garlic lovers everywhere, because it’s the short one or two-week harvest season for garlic scape.
Personally, I love the look of garlic scape and I love the flavor.
When I noticed mine was ready to harvest, I immediately began thinking about different ways to use it.
It went in the dressing for a shrimp and lettuce salad with a garlic/anchovy/lemon dressing.
It went in scrambled eggs.
I grilled some with other veggies.
My husband thought the grilled scapes were just OK, but the grilled portabellas, with olive oil, rosemary and basil, were wonderful.
Last night, I made hummus with garlic scape.I took a photo after I put the scape and garbanzo beans in the food processor, but forgot to take a pic of the finished product. It looked like plain hummus, but boy, did it have some flavor! I put fresh basil in it, too.
Tonight, I’m going to make refried beans with garlic scape to go with my guacamole with garlic scape to go with the huevos rancheros we’re having for dinner.
There's probably still enough scape to make a little bit of garlic pesto, which we will take with us to the Bluegrass Festival, where we will share it with our neighbors so the aroma doesn’t repel them.
Why does garlic smell badly when it’s on someone else’s breath, but taste so delicious when it smothers our own?