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, October 7, 2013
My gardening buddy (who's also my canning buddy) and I have been picking tomatoes like crazy, peeling them and then sticking them in gallon freezer bags. Both of our freezers are full of tomatoes, so we decided it was time to can. Seriously, we had 38 gallon size freezer bags full of tomatoes, so it was definitely an extravacanza.
We can in my kitchen because it's nice and roomy, with a stove that can fit two canning kettles and access on both sides. As you can see, we needed all the room we could get.
What this photo doesn't show are the bags (and bags) of frozen/thawing tomatoes and the empty-but-soon-to-be-filled jars.
We worked pretty much from 1 p.m. to about 7:30 p.m., canning about 60 quarts of various flavors of tomatoes (we did some with tomatilos, some with Italian herbs, some with green chiles) and 13 pints of salsa. A fine days work. We still have eight frozen gallons of tomatoes that we ran out of time and energy to can, so we made a date to can again in two weeks. Maybe by then all the green ones I picked last week and the few I left on the vine to get bigger will also be ripe.
I think there's lots of pasta sauce, chili, soup and Mexican food in my culinary future this winter.
By Penny Stine
Friday, October 4, 2013
In anticipation of the possible frost coming our way tonight, I picked a few things from my garden.
It made me sad. Look at all those gorgeous green tomatoes! I need about another month. Maybe two.
They'll ripen on the counter, but it won't be the same as going out and finding a big, juicy red tomato on the vine. I left a few out on the vine because my bowl was full and one forecast said temps would only get down to 34. Hope springs eternal.
On the other hand, my gardening buddy, Jan of the awesome garden, gave me some of her cherry tomatoes because she has had all she can handle. I roasted two pans of them last night and will freeze them and use them all winter. The smell of roasting tomatoes is definitely one of the good things about autumn.
By Penny Stine
Monday, September 30, 2013
I blame it on the basil. I have it growing in three of my pots on the deck, along with a very healthy rosemary plant. I can't stand the idea of just letting them freeze, so I decided I'd bring them inside before the first freeze.
Then I noticed there was a little bit of room in the pot for something else, so I remembered I had some lettuce seeds. I figured I'd grow salad greens in the house this winter in my sunny, southern-facing window.
Then I got on the Park Seed catalog website to order spinach seeds so I could plant them in November and I saw a hybrid cucumber that didn't need bees for pollination. The cuke was also supposed to do well in cooler temperatures, which is an apt description for my living room in the winter. Since I'm going to try to grow lettuce and cucumbers indoors this winter, I thought I should buy some pea seeds. Pea vines would look cool climbing up my plant shelf and they, too, would appreciate the balmy 62 degrees that I keep my house.
So I ordered a few seeds from Park Seed. They came on my birthday, which made me happy, but I must have checked on the wrong box because instead of getting a packet of pea seeds, I got five packets of peas.
My plant shelf isn't that big.
While I was on the web site, I saw a beet that only required 30 days and that could be planted up to two weeks before the first frost. Since I believe in living dangerously, I bought those, too, and planted beets on my birthday in my sunniest little bed right here. Maybe we've got two weeks until it freezes. This bed used to hold cucumbers and green beans. They were tired and done, so I pulled them out, added a wheelbarrow of compost to the bed, dug it all in and planted beets.
Oh, happy birthday!
I don't think I'm going to start my winter indoor garden until November. I may plant lettuce in the pots with basil and rosemary after I bring them inside, but I think I need to take at least a week or two off.
By Penny Stine
Friday, September 27, 2013
I've been watching the weather online. Earlier in the week it said a low of 39 tonight. No problem. Then it got downwardly adjusted to 37. Still no sweat. This morning, the low was predicted to be 34 and right now, there's a freeze warning in effect with night time temps of 32 predicted.
No! Just when everything is looking so pretty.
I'm not ready to say goodbye to my garden yet. I'm not ready to quit going for garden strolls when I come home at night.
I've got bunches of tomatoes that aren't ready to be picked, too.
I know that all good things seem to come to an end, but with the forecast predicted to go back into the 70s during the day next week with lows in the 40s, I'm sure my tomatoes, melons and peppers will get ripe with a little more time.
On the other hand, some of the stuff I'm growing this year is supposed to taste better after the first frost, so I haven't pulled many carrots or beets. And I haven't pulled any of the leeks (see them all in a row in the middle of the photo?) or the celery root (pictured in the photo below), so I guess I have something to look forward to.
I don't normally fight the inevitable, but given the forecast for better days ahead, I think I'll try and drag some sheets or plastic to drape over the plants that have the most tomatoes. Just in case.
By Penny Stine
Friday, September 20, 2013
Last spring, my son and I tackled the grass on the sloped area of his Denver yard. He wanted to get rid of the grass and put in annual flowers and perennials that wouldn't need mowing.
He preferred sunflowers so they'd act as a privacy hedge as well as an interesting color contrast. I suggested some zinnias and marigolds, too. We bought five or six different packets of sunflower seeds, in various yellow, orange, burgundy and rust hues.
The zinnia packet said they were purple. As you can see, they're not. But the pink color works well with the sunflowers.
Like all sunflowers seem to do everywhere... they grew
and grew and grew some more.
The neighbor warned him that he'd never get anything to grow in this side yard. The kitchen window looks out over these flowers and my son said it made him smile when he did the dishes to look out over and see the sunflowers, amaranth and cosmos.
Frankly, it makes me smile just to think he does the dishes even if we're not planning a visit!
When I visited my mom in July, I dug up some of her root-bound iris bulbs and replanted them in my sons' front flower bed.
We're planning a trip in October, and I'm thinking I may have to plant a few more spring and early summer bulbs.
Needless to say, I'm having fun playing in someone else's yard.
We also threw down some kale and cucumber seeds even though we did nothing to amend the soil. The kale grew enormous and the cucumbers produced like crazy.