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, March 3, 2014
This bed may not look like much, but that's because you didn't see the before photo. There were dead sunflower stalks, dead mint plants and all kinds of mean, nasty ugly things out there.
On Saturday, my husband locked us out of the house when we were on our way to go someplace and he grabbed his work truck keys instead of his personal truck keys. Fortunately, he had a shovel and two pairs of gloves in his work truck (as well as bottles of water), so while we were waiting for the locksmith, we pulled weeds, cleared out the dead stuff and cleaned up this area, where the irises will bloom in another month or so.
Normally, he leaves the gardening to me, but since we were locked out of the house and the truck, he pitched in and we filled the garbage can with debris. Yes, I could have composted it, but since it included weed and sunflower seeds, I didn't want to. Since dead weeds and sunflowers were in this bed all winter, I'm sure thousands of seeds have already fallen to the ground, but I didn't want to add to them by throwing it in the compost pile.
Next time, I'll just ask for his help instead of using my amazing mind-meld powers to cause him to forget his keys so he's got nothing better to do while waiting for the locksmith to rescue us.
By Penny Stine
Friday, February 28, 2014
At this point in 2014, my garden is costing me more than it's saving me. I've been trying to keep track of everything we eat from the garden, (via the freezer or the canning shelf right now) but I'm pretty sure I've forgotten to record a few.
I've already ordered seeds and paid for my irrigation water for the 2014 season. We would pay for irrigation even if we didn't have a garden, but I figured since I use it to water my garden, I'd charge half of the yearly cost to my garden. It's irrigation water, so even though it was twice as much as its been in the past due to capital expenditures, it was still only $106. Not bad for all the water I need in my garden for six months.
My year-to-date costs are $141.65, which doesn't count some seeds that I've ordered, but haven't actually paid for yet.
I didn't start keeping track of the produce I've used until the middle of January, but so far, I estimate that my garden has supplied me with $49.47 worth of produce. Not bad for half of January and February.
That means that my garden has cost me $92.18 so far this year. I'm pretty sure the pendulum will swing the other way once I actually have things growing outside in the dirt, but I plan on continuing my garden cost calculator throughout the year just to see.
Of course, I can't calculate the value of my mental health, which is greatly improved every time I look at a seed catalog in the winter or go for a garden stroll in the spring, summer and fall.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Starting plants from seeds is pretty simple when you've got the right equipment. It's also a lot less messy if you use a plastic dome like the ones my friend and I splurged for a couple of years ago. We got ours from Park Seed, but I think other seed companies or garden supply companies also make something like it.
Here's why they're cool:
We planted this bio-dome with broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts seeds on Saturday. I took this photo last night - on Wednesday. When I checked on Tuesday, about half were germinated and up. The bio-dome keeps seeds and young plants moist.
Some of the basil and pepper seeds have already sprouted, too.
Spring cannot come fast enough.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
It was so beautiful over the weekend and I thoroughly enjoyed spending several hours outside playing in the dirt, cleaning up my gardens and plotting where I would plant everything this year.
While I was out in the front yard garden on the east side of the yard, I noticed that the winter/early spring sun hit it much better than the summer and fall sun. Not only is the angle of the sun more of a direct hit, but the surrounding trees are bare, so there's no shade. Well, they're pretty overgrown, messy trees. There's not as much shade.
It was warm and the ground was nice and soft. Plenty of bugs and worms already active in the soil, too.
The urge to make the most of the sunshine was too strong. I had to plant something! I did a quick review of seeds I had that were left over from last summer or fall and discovered a packet of beet seeds. I tried planting beets in the early fall, hoping for a harvest before Thanksgiving, but they didn't do so well. No sense letting a half-packet of beet seeds just sit there.
I did a quick online search and found one gardening source that said it was OK to plant beets two to four weeks before the final frost. A different one said six to eight weeks prior to the last frost. I still have a couple of beets in the ground from the ones I planted last fall. They're small, but look like they'll survive if they get a little water. I figure beets are hardy and can take the spring weather.
So I found two patches of dirt that looked promising and planted at least three dozen beets. The soil was already moist, but I went ahead and gave it a gentle soak with the hose. I figure I'll have to drag the hose around at least once a week, but that's OK. That's the garden where I have spinach coming up, too, and it won't hurt to give those little plants an extra drink, too.
Yay! It's only February and I've got something new planted in the garden.
By Penny Stine
Monday, February 24, 2014
Oh happy day… my gardening buddy, Jan of the awesome garden, came over on Saturday and we organized our seeds and got some seeds started in our bio-domes.
It was fun to have all our seeds spread out all over the table. While the seeds are on the table, the gardens in our heads are still perfect with possibilities. Once the seeds are actually planted and growing… well, that's when imperfection rears its ugly head.
It's too early for tomatoes (they'll get way too leggy if you start them inside now), but we figured that it was fine for slow growers like peppers, basil, leeks, celery and celery root.
As you can see by the labels on the domes, we tried to be organized so we'd know exactly what was growing and where it was growing.
We also started broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, because they can all be planted outside in April, so we figured starting them now would give us nice-sized plants by the first week of April.
We planted the herbs first and then did the rest. By the time we got everything else labeled and planted, I took a peek at the basil seeds and saw that they were already starting to swell up and look interesting. Pretty cool, considering that they're two-year old seeds!
We still have one bio-dome left, which we'll use to start tomatoes. I thought we had enough space for everything in our bio-domes, until I remembered that one of our experimental plantings this year is pineapple ground cherries (i.e., pineapple tomatillos), and we're going to start those when we start tomatoes. Guess I'll have to clean out my small black plastic pots and go buy some seedling mixture.
There's nothing like starting a few seedlings to liven up a Saturday afternoon in February.