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 email@example.com.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
This has been a tough gardening year. I had a lot of seeds that didn’t germinate and a lot of plants that died, so it’s good to see an area that’s thriving, like this one.
This bed used to be too shady to grow much of anything other than shade-loving perennials, mint and parsley, but since we cut the big tree down in the front yard, I decided to see what I could grow in here. The bed has good sunshine from about 9 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m. which is more than almost anyplace else in my yard.
I planted three sweet pepper plants, and as you can see, they’re full of peppers. They’re supposed to be orange when ripe. I’m getting extremely impatient for them to turn orange. One turned almost completely yellow, and I decided that was good enough, so I put it in a salad with cucumbers, basil and a couple of tomatoes.
The peppers are starting to drag the limbs to the ground (which means some of the peppers are also on the ground), so I'm hoping that's not an invitation to the bugs to come and make a nice dinner out of my unripe peppers.
I also planted three different types of melons in this bed, which was probably too many. I stuck a couple of tomato cages (and two shoe racks) in the bed in an attempt to get the melons to grow up instead of spreading out into the lawn. It’s kinda, sorta successful. I need a sturdier, taller support for them. A stepladder would be perfect, but I just can't see my husband agreeing to put a small stepladder in the middle of a planting bed.
I have a couple watermelons, a couple of cantaloupe and a few honeydew melons in the bed, so I’m pretty excited about that. I'm not very good at determining when they're ripe, so I'm going to leave them on the vine until I just can't stand it.
There are also three or four ground cherry bushes in there somewhere. So far, they’re not producing very many at a time, so beyond putting them in salads, I haven’t experimented with them much. I found a great coffee cake recipe, so as soon as I accumulate two cups of them, I plan on making it. (Of course, that requires me to quit eating them as soon as I find them, which may or may not happen!)
By Penny Stine
Friday, August 8, 2014
When I was out in the garden last night, I saw some enormous green beans, so I decided to pick all I could find. Seriously, I picked all the large ones I saw, in all the places where my green beans are growing.
This morning, I went out to see what was interesting and would make a good blog entry, and what did I spy with my little eye?
Yes, this honking green bean!
How did I miss it?
So then I went around to all the other places where I’m growing green beans to see if I could find a few more misses.
When I planted, I had more seeds than what would fit along the fence where I wanted them to grow or on the trellis, so I stuck a few tomato cages in the ground and planted pole beans around them.
I’m happy I did, since for reasons I can’t figure out, the beans on the fence didn’t do well. Most of them didn’t even sprout. There are only two sad little bean plants growing along this fenceline, which is at least 12 feet long, and where I planted easily two dozen seeds.
To add insult to injury, these plants are just starting to flower!
Ditto for the beans on this trellis. More than three sprouted, but they died, so this is all I have on the trellis.
When Becky at work gave me three tomato plants, I put them here on this trellis, since the beans were a no-show. At least I had someplace to put the tomatoes, and they appear quite happy.
Luckily, I had quite a few unused tomato cages and planted beans in random places, where they’re doing fine. These ones are a yellow, Romano-style pole bean, which I’ve never tried before.
They’re a little slower to produce, since I’ve picked green beans several times, but until last night and this morning, I didn’t have any yellow ones big enough to pick.
In my quick search this morning before work, this is how many I found.I probably picked about twice that many last night, when I thought I picked every bean that was big enough to pick. Obviously, they’re really good at hiding.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
I planted in this straw bale on three different occasions before finally giving up. Every time something would sprout, some critter would come along and chomp it. The last time I planted in the straw bale was probably early July. The other day, I saw this.
I tried both melons and squash in the bale, so it could be either one, but I'm leaning toward squash. I think it’s interesting that the seed was there, not germinating at all during almost the entire month of July. It wasn’t until we got the big rain at the end of the month that it finally sprouted.
The bale gets plenty of water, so it wasn’t a lack of water. Perhaps it just didn’t like the heat.
In all the seed catalogs or on the seed packets themselves, many of the directions say to sow in early spring, and then say that they can be sown again in mid-summer for a fall harvest, if you live in an area with a long growing season.
I think we have a pretty long growing season (especially compared to the rest of the Rocky Mountain Region), and I’ve been attempting to do fall crops for several years, without much luck.
I planted Swiss Chard, carrots, a lettuce mix and beets sometime in mid-July, and this is the only plant that came up. It’s a Fordhook Giant Swiss chard. At the time, I didn’t realize how much the ground cherries would grow and crowd everything else. Swiss chard can get pretty huge, so I think this one will hold its own.
Last week, I decided to use up the rest of my seeds (and I even went out and bought a few additional ones) and try one more time for a fall crop. I planted on the last Monday in July, and we got soaked with rain on both Monday and Tuesday night of the same week.
I bought some kohlrabi seeds Tuesday after work and planted those when I got home, so those got a nice soak, too.
So far, the only sprouts I can see are these, which I’m pretty sure are beets.
I’m sure all the little seeds underground appreciated this week’s rain, too. We’ll see if any more begin to sprout now that the sun is returning.
I’m not sold on the idea of mid-summer planting for a fall crop. Maybe it works well in other areas, but so far, I’m not seeing stellar results in my garden.
Btw, ever since my rototiller broke, I’ve decided to be a non-rototilling gardener, which means I often have stuff that grows where I didn't plant it, but where the plant from the previous year went to seed or where the compost sprouted.
Here’s the healthiest kale I have in this year’s garden, growing where I certainly didn’t plant it last spring.I only planted one new variety of kale last spring and it didn’t sprout at all. Good thing it comes up on its own.
This potato plant is growing in a bed that’s overrun with columbine, overgrown wild kale, some weeds and flowers because it's too shady to grow many vegetables. How that potato got there, I certainly do not know, because I’m fairly certain that I didn’t put it there!
By Penny Stine
Monday, August 4, 2014
Last week, someone who knows I love unusual produce gave me two long Asian green beans and said that she likes them stir-fried. Two wasn’t enough to make a meal, so I went out to see what I could find in my garden to add to it. More green beans, a long green chile, some ground cherries, and of course, tiny onions and garlic.
Hubby still wasn’t home, so that was enough for just me.
I started by sautéing the onions and garlic until they were crispy, because everything is better with crispy onions and garlic. Except maybe peach cobbler. That would just be weird.
Then I tossed in all the other veggies and got them on the crispy side, too. Because I was going for an Asian theme, I added finely chopped Thai basil, too.
Finally, because I was working on the peach section last week and read that peaches originated in China and China is the world’s leading grower and consumer of peaches, I decided to add a peach to my stir-fry.
The peach was somewhat overwhelming, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It wasn’t so sweet that it was weird, and I left it in the pan until it was warm, soft and delicious.
Not a bad Friday night dinner at all.
By Penny Stine
Friday, August 1, 2014
Last night, my darling hubby wasn’t home for dins, which meant I got to cook something that he probably wouldn’t be thrilled about. So I experimented with roasted beets (he’s not a fan) and peaches.
I had some leftover grilled chicken, so I diced that and threw it in my salad bowl, too. I diced the roasted beets and the peaches, then I went out in the garden in search of greens. I was hoping to find some arugula (because I had looked at a couple recipes online and they said to serve roasted beets and peaches over a bed of arugula), but my arugula had all grown two feet tall and went to seed. I think I managed to find about five decent leaves.
I did find some baby kale, and then went and picked some lemon balm. After scrounging around my ground cherries, I found about a dozen ripe ones, so they went in the salad, too.
When I assembled the salad, I ended up chopping both the arugula and the lemon balm fairly fine, while tearing the kale into bite size pieces. The ground cherries were tiny, but I halved most of them anyway, in hopes of getting the juice to mingle with the rest of the ingredients.
I tossed in a little bit of goat cheese, then squeezed a small slice of lime over my salad, letting it sit for about 5 minutes to allow all the flavors/juices to interact with each other. Fresh lime juice also takes some of the extreme bite out of kale.
As you can see by the photo, letting it sit also let all the colors mingle. Well, they didn’t all mingle - almost everything but the kale got influenced by the beets and turned pink. I thought it was kinda pretty.
It was also very tasty. The combination of the roasted beets and peaches is one I’ll continue to play with this summer. Maybe I’ll even get my hubby to like it.
I haven’t decided if I love gardening because I also love to cook, or if my enjoyment of cooking has increased because I love to garden. What do you think? Or is it like asking whether the chicken or the egg came first?