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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October tomatoes

By Penny Stine
Friday, October 24, 2014

Look at all the pretty, multi-colored tomatoes I’m picking right now. Yes, right now, with just a week or less before the garden will most likely freeze.
Why, tomato plants? Why couldn’t you do this two months ago? Not that I don’t appreciate your bounty now, but I really wanted tomatoes in August. Maybe even July.
I guess it’s my own fault, since I killed all the tomato plants that were planted in the prime spots. This plant isn’t in a bad spot, but it doesn’t get any sun at all until about 11 a.m., and then it’s full sun until 5 or so. It was shaded in the early summer by pea plants, and I think that stunted it’s early growth. It’s got lots of big, green tomatoes on it now.
I took these pics last night, right before Howie and I took a walk. Howie appears uncomfortable sitting next to these plants, since normally, I discourage him from hanging out in the garden.
The plants he’s next to were given to me by a co-worker, who had started them from seed and never found space in her garden to plant them. I think it was June before she gave them to me and I got them in the ground. They get a fair amount of shade, so it’s no surprise they weren’t bearing ripe tomatoes in July, or even August. I think I picked a couple in September, but when tomato plants don’t get enough direct sunlight, they take a lot longer.
Next year, I will treat my soil kindly and will have healthy tomato plants in the sunniest spot in the garden.  

And Saturday night, we're eating pasta with fresh tomato sauce. 


More purple potato pics

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, October 22, 2014


I dug the remainder of my purple potatoes last weekend. The vines had all died and all but disappeared, so I figured it was long past time. The potatoes were on the small side, but I don’t know whether that was because purple potatoes don’t get huge or because mine were in a semi-shady area.




Yesterday, since it was supposed to be rainy, I figured I’d make baked potato soup.Mostly I was just curious if the purple potatoes would turn the entire soup lavender.


As you can see, the potatoes retained their purple color when baked, even after I chopped them up to put them in the soup.

I didn’t have any cream, but I had a small amount of buttermilk (I can’t remember why I had buttermilk in the fridge) and some sour cream, both of which went in the soup, along with a bunch of milk.


Sometimes I put cheddar cheese in baked potato soup, but I didn’t want the yellow of the cheese to affect the color of the soup, so I added just a few crumbles of blue cheese.



This is what it looked like on the stove. Can you tell it’s slightly lavender?







This is what it looked like in the bowl.

Potatoes are fun to grow, especially if you’ve got kids (or grandkids) to help dig them at harvest. I like growing odd varieties that you can’t find at the grocery store, like these purple ones. At the local nurseries you can find quite a few varieties of seed potatoes in the spring, but usually just red and white varieties. For a greater variety, try going to an online source. I think I got these purple ones from Territorial Seed.


Lack of water impeding late season gardening efforts

By Penny Stine
Monday, October 20, 2014

I’ve been periodically checking the three Brussels Sprouts plants I have in various places in the garden, but no little sprouts have formed anywhere. The plants are pretty big, but they’re not doing much.

I think they really could stand a little more water than they’ve received, but for some reason, we don’t have enough flowing in our ditch to run our sprinklers. They haven’t turned off the water yet in my neck of the irrigation woods, so I don’t know what’s going on.

The lack of water may finally convince those big green tomatoes still on the vine to ripen, but the Swiss chard, kale, carrots, kohlrabi, peppers, tomatillos and these sprouts aren’t too happy about it. Or at least that’s what they told me.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping the 50 percent chance of rain for tomorrow turns into a good soak for the garden.

I’m also hoping that these itsy bitsy little sprouts (they’re currently so small that you can’t even see them where the leave breaks off from the stalk, but really, they’re there - and they’re about 1 centimeter across) have an “aha!” moment and decide to grow bigger.  


One more way to use kale

By Penny Stine
Friday, October 17, 2014

I think I must have the perfect growing conditions for kale and tomatillos. I told myself I was going to figure out something that combined the two, but so far, I haven’t done anything inspiring that uses both. I have been dreaming up new uses for them separately, including this kale and picked beet salad I made last night.
In addition to the pickled beets, I also put in a bunch of blue cheese, some dried cherries and a few ground cherries from the garden, a splash of olive oil and a glug of the pickled beet juice. The vinegar in the pickling juice helps to take the bite out of the kale. Simply delish.  


Red flannel hash

By Penny Stine
Friday, October 10, 2014

Yesterday was rainy and cool, and I decided to try something new called red flannel hash for dins last night. How appropriate, given the weather. I found it when I was looking for something interesting to do with the two beets I found in the garden.



There were several different recipes for it online, but the recurring theme was beets and potatoes. I decided to include onions, garlic, half a chile, some greens, as well as two beets and both purple and Yukon gold potatoes, all of which I picked from the grocery store growing in my garden.

I chopped them all into fairly large chunks, which I prefer in hash. My husband said he’d prefer that I use my blender to chop everything, but my blender works too well. It would be a hash smoothie, and I don’t think that would be tasty.


We smoked a beef brisket last weekend, and I decided the last of the leftover brisket would be perfect in the hash, so I chopped it, too. 

I boiled the potatoes and beets first, just to get them tender and partially cooked. Then I sautéed onions, garlic and chiles and threw in beef, potatoes and beets. When everything was done and well-mixed and beets and taters were soft, I added the greens and a bunch of green onions.
When hubby came home, I poached eggs on top. I also threw on more green onions because I have them growing everywhere in my garden.
Hubby said it tasted better than he was anticipating. His patience for my culinary adventures knows no bounds. He had seconds, so I know he wasn’t just whistling Dixie. He did think the look of it was rather unappealing, but I thought it merely looked like red and green checked flannel. (I took the pic before I added the greens - the addition of the greens was even more colorful!)

I thought it was really tasty, and was quite happy to bring leftover red flannel hash for lunch, although in my head, I keep hearing that silly Toby Keith song about red solo cup whenever I think about my lunch.  

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