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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Seeds sprout quickly

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.  


It may be too early, but I planted seeds outside anyway

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.  


Seeds, seeds, glorious seeds

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.  


Super exciting, breaking, thrilling garden news!!!

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Check this out!!!





  I went home at lunch and what did I see in my newly cleaned out flower bed? A flower blooming in February! 

Is that the most exciting news you've heard all day or what?  


(Don't you just love crocuses?)


I grew arugula and actually liked it

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I decided to make a salad out of the greens growing in my living room last night. I've let the peas on the farthest edge of the plant shelf grow up to be big, vining pea plants and they're keeping the little shoots from getting much sunlight, so I didn't have many pea shoots to pick. (Plus, there's the small detail of me forgetting to water them - they're kinda dry and brown.)

This pot, however, is looking fabulous. It has a few pea plants, a basil plant and a bunch of arugula. I don't know why I bought arugula seeds. I planted it before in the garden and although it grew well, no one (not even me!) really liked the way it tasted. I've had it in salads in good restaurants, however, and came across a variety description from Park Seed that said it was supposed to be sweet, so I bought some seeds and added it to my wintertime living room garden.

Arugula was the main green in my salad last night. I also added some thinly sliced cucumbers, blue cheese,  a few pea shoots and a few leaves of red-veined sorrel. (also growing in the living room greenhouse) Then I made a dressing out of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and two finely chopped medjool dates.
Even my husband loved it.

The red-veined sorrel was also an experiment and I still have seeds which I'll sow outside in the spring. I hope it will grow bigger outside. I think it's supposed to do well in the shade, and since I have tons of shade, I thought I'd try it. The leaves are good, with a lemony flavor.  

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