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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Happy spinach

By Penny Stine
Friday, May 13, 2016

The spinach in my garden is doing really well this year, although once the temperatures consistently hit 80, I know it will be gone. In the meantime, we're eating a lot of spinach salad. And spinach and scrambled eggs on weekend mornings, and spinach in my morning smoothies and spinach in pasta, rice and anything else. Good thing we love spinach. 

There's a specific bug that preys on spinach and sucks the green out of the leaves. I could spray to get rid of it, since I can see the affects, but I'd rather not spray if the plant is still holding its own and producing well. 

I also set up my cucumber trellises and planted cukes last night. I'm trying a new variety called suyo long here. It's supposed to produce cukes that are up to two feet long, and if grown on a trellis, they're supposed to simple dangle down, long and straight for easy picking. We'll see if that actually happens. 


Perfect time to plant

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Although the weather was lousy for doing anything recreational outside last weekend, it was pretty perfect for transplanting my ridiculously small tomatoes and peppers that I started from seed. The cool, wet weather gave them all a chance to keep their roots wet and only a couple of them went into immediate transplant shock.

I put a lot of hot pepper plants in this little bed. It’s in the front yard, which is the south side of my house, so it gets a lot of sunshine. Because it’s carved out of the lawn, it only gets watered when the lawn does, and it doesn’t get as much water as the beds where I’ve put in a drip system. I’ve noticed that hot pepper plants will do fine with less frequent watering, which seems to help the peppers actually be hot.

I’ve got guajillo, Trinidad perfume, lemon drop and flaming flare peppers in this box. I also put in five tomato plants, but I’m not sure what type they are. I didn’t bother marking them, because I’m not growing any tomatoes that look alike. I’m guessing there’s at least one cherry tomato called indigo cream, one early pink and one costoluto genovese tomato in here.

My husband helped me assemble my tomato trellises, too. He had to reinforce them because they’re getting a bit wobbly. I think they’re about 7 years old. I was able to plant 20 tomato plants on these two trellises. I’ve got mostly large, heirloom type tomatoes on the trellises. I’m growing black pineapple (which is actually a green & purple tomato), black from Tula, Virginia Sweet, Hughes and a red tomato called Kosovo on these trellises.
I know, why in the world does any sane person need more than 25 tomato plants in any given year?
I took a quick look at the plants this morning after my walk with Howie the dog and they all seemed to be hanging in there!  


If only I knew what I was doing

By Penny Stine
Friday, May 6, 2016

I've got a bumper crop of mushrooms in the yard after all the rain. If only I knew if they were edible or not.

My husband kicked these ones before he mowed earlier in the week, scattering spores across the yard. I'm sure we'll have an even bigger crop after this weekend's rain. 


A never-ending chore

By Penny Stine
Monday, May 2, 2016

I spent hours on Saturday pulling weeds in my gardens, tacking this small east garden first, since it has more actual produce growing in it than the other gardens.

I call it my spring garden, since I seem to plant a lot of early spring stuff in it, probably because I can stretch the hose over to that garden pretty easily if I need to water in March. 

Once I finished the east garden, I moseyed on over to the west garden. I did the front half, where I hope to plant a bunch of tomatoes this weekend, if there's no freeze in the forecast after Mother's Day. 




I even weeded the back half of the west garden, where I've already planted potatoes, onions, cauliflower, cabbage, peas and brussels sprouts, and where the chives are growing to ridiculous size.

I filled my 35-gallon trash container. 

I went out to take a couple of photos afternoon of the results of all my hard work when I went home for lunch & realized I could fill another 35-gallon trash container full of weeds.  

On a positive note, however, I was incredibly pleased with the carpet pathways I laid a month or so ago. It was so much easier to kneel on the carpet than it had been when it was a rocky path. And so far, the weeds are staying away from the carpet!


What a difference

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I’ve tried all kinds of different fertilizers in my garden, from cow and alpaca poop to Soil Pep and Alaska Fish Fertilizer. When I first started gardening, I didn’t use any fertilizer at all, I just brought in a truck load of Mesa Magic every year.


This year, I bought a bag of fertilizer granules from Bookcliff Gardens. It’s their own brand, which means that they probably buy it wholesale by the truckload from somewhere and simply have it packaged in a bag that says Bookcliff Gardens.
It was relatively inexpensive, and whoever waited on me assured me it was what they used on all their plants. They do a spectacular job of raising plants, so I thought I’d give it a try.






So far, me and my plants are quite happy. I’ve been picking spinach since March, which is probably the earliest I’ve ever harvested it. I have it planted in three areas (all of which got the fertilizer), and it’s growing well in all three areas.



I’ve also used it in this bed, which has carrots, broccoli, onions, parsley, at least one potato hill, and more spinach. As you can see, the plants are pretty dang happy.




Ditto for this spot, where I planted baby bok choi a few weeks ago.

The Bookcliff fertilizer isn’t organic, but frankly, I’m not too concerned about that. Usually, my spinach gets attacked by these chlorophyll-sucking bugs that do severe damage, but I've seen very little evidence of them this year. I remember learning in the master gardening class that healthier plants can fight off bugs better than struggling plants.

Plus, I’d be willing to bet that my veggies, which come straight from my garden to my kitchen table (sometimes with a detour to the stove or in the oven) are still healthier and more nutritious than anything I could buy at the store. And thanks to the fertilizer, I think this year will be an amazing garden year. Of course, I say that every spring…  

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