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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More tasty goodness from the seed catalog company

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Look what I found on my doorstep last weekend! Just when the outside garden is winding down, I got my grow box full of mushroom spores!

Some women get excited about jewelry; my heart goes pitty-patter over a box of dirt and fungi.

The mushroom kit came with instructions, which were pretty simple to follow.




Open the big box. Take out the plastic bag with the spores and add water.




Dump the wet mess on the compost in the box (the box is lined with a heavy plastic bag).


Make sure the compost is all thoroughly wet, then fold the plastic back over the compost.
Close the box. Stick it in a dark place and leave it alone for a week.
I did all of that on Friday night. This Friday, I think I’m supposed to check on it and spritz it with a spray bottle full of water. I don’t remember whether I’m supposed to close the box back up again or not, but I kept the instructions.
I’ll take photos as I see something growing.
The portabella kit was a little pricy - I think it was $34.99 plus shipping. Shipping was a boatload because the box was full of compost, which isn’t exactly lightweight. Button mushrooms were cheaper, but I like portabellas and they’re pretty pricy in the store, too.
Besides, I need garden therapy in the winter, too.  


Garden pizza uses a little bit of everything

By Penny Stine
Monday, October 27, 2014

Last Friday, I got home from work and didn’t feel like working hard to make dinner. My hubby had done a lot of driving that week (to Evanston, Wyo., to Vernal, Utah, to Denver - all in one week!), so the last thing he wanted to do was get in the car and drive to a restaurant for dinner.
So, I grabbed the pizza crust I had in the freezer for exactly this type of situation and got creative. (Helpful hints from Penny: when you make homemade pizza, make enough dough to make an extra pizza. Go ahead and roll it out, put it in your spare pizza pan and put the sauce on it. Then wrap it in foil and stick it in the freezer for a night when you’re beat and don’t want to go out.)
I also hate going out to eat when I know there’s perfectly lovely food in my fridge or in my garden if I would just take a few minutes and prepare it.
So I went out to the garden and picked a small amount of a bunch of stuff and chopped it all up, as you can see by the photo.
We didn’t have any regular mozzarella, but I had two pieces of string cheese, some Mexican queso fresco, some hard Romano cheese and a half-package of some four-cheese shredded blend. I shredded the string cheese and the queso and put a thin layer of that on top of the sauce. Then I scattered the veggies. As you can see, there were a ton of veggies on the pizza. I think I counted eight different veggies from my garden. 

No, I didn't grow the olives in my garden. I did, for the first time ever, put a few green beans, some broccoli, two types of baby summer squash and various other normal pizza toppings, on my pizza. 

Then I covered the veggies with the Romano and the four-cheese blend, stuck it in the oven for 25 minutes and drank half a glass of wine.
You tell me what you think of my finished pizza. My husband thought it was wonderful, and he’s a carnivore-loving guy who, if left to his own devices, will always go with the double-pepperoni, sausage, mega-meat monster kind of pizza.
It was truly delicious. It took me less time to go out to the garden, wash and chop the veggies and assemble the pizza than it would have to drive to a restaurant and wait to be seated. (Especially on a Friday night in GJ - have you ever noticed that every restaurant in town is packed on Friday nights?) 

It's supposed to freeze tonight, and even though we've had a nice, long fall, I'm still not ready for it. 


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.  

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