Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Friday, January 31, 2014
I know skiers, resort owners and anyone who depends on winter to make a buck is tickled pink with the latest winter storm, but I am not.
Just when the snow and ice from December was finally melting, what do we get?
At least I won't have to water the spinach that was starting to come up and I know from past experience that this winter weather won't bother it much at all, but that still doesn't make me happy. I don't care that it's the last day of January, I live in Colorado and snow is to be expected…
When it comes to winter, I'm somewhat irrational. After a couple of months I'm ready for it to be over so I can get back into my garden.
At least I got an e-mail confirmation from both Park Seed and Territorial Seed that my orders have shipped!
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Technically, what I picked in the living room wasn't really micro greens, since the plants in my living room are older than a week. It was an assortment of several odd things I'm experimenting with in the living room, however, and micro green salad sounds better than living room greenhouse salad. I picked arugula, pea shoots and red-veined sorrel for my salad. You can tell by the pic that they're not micro greens, since some of the leaves are several inches long.
The arugula in the living room doesn't seem to be as mustard-like as other arugula I've grown in the past. Is it because it's in the gentle confines of the living room rather than the harsh reality of the outdoors?
It's certainly not because it gets watered more often than anything outside - I've been letting my indoor plants dry out between watering in an effort to rid my house of gnats. It's not working. Ditto for the sand. My peas are turning brown, however, in a silent cry for more water.
My husband says he can't stand arugula and sees no need for me to grow it, but I didn't tell him it was in last night's salad, and he said the salad was great. It's an arugula seed from Park Seed that I ordered last fall called sweet oakleaf. I still have seeds left over after planting some in the living room, so come late March, I'm planting it out in the garden, too. I don't know that I want to chow down on a plate of plain arugula, but it was good mixed with pea shoots, sorrel and cilantro. It made me feel like I was eating in a posh restaurant, except that I didn't have to pay anyone afterward. And I did have to help with the dishes.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
There are plenty of people who say that gardening doesn't save anybody any money whatsoever. They claim that by the time you add up the cost of seeds, plants, dirt, soil amendments, water, pest deterrents and the costs to actually build a garden, it's cheaper to just go buy produce at the grocery store.
Obviously, there's money in garden supplies, or I wouldn't be receiving garden catalogs in the mail every other day. These are only half of the ones I've found in my mailbox so far in 2014. My friend, Jan, has the rest.
While it can seem expensive in the years that you're putting in the bones of a garden - buying all the bits for irrigation, and the edging, boxes or whatever you're using to define the garden space, I've always suspected that yes, gardening saves a boatload of money, but people don't want to say that because it's also a boatload of work. Those that don't enjoy garden work can simply write it off as an expensive hobby they're smart enough to not pursue.
If gardening didn't save people money, why did everyone do it during the depression and World War II years? I think we eat something from my garden (either picked that day or picked from the freezer or the canning shelf) almost every day.
Because I like research (even when not done in a truly scientific fashion), I decided 2014 would be my test year to determine how much money I spend on my garden and how much produce I actually get for all that money.
I should have started this on Jan. 1, but I didn't think about it then. I'm going to include all the frozen and canned stuff that came from my 2013 garden in this year's garden credits, even though the expenses came out of my 2013 pocket.
I'll keep a running tally of garden bounty consumed and a running tally of expenses. Who knows, I may even go back and try to amortize the initial expense of changing the irrigation system and building the garden boundaries and add in a yearly expense based on a five-year amortization.
I'll keep you informed.
OK, since I posted this first thing this morning, I managed to create a spreadsheet to tally garden goodies versus garden expenses. I'd love it if a few other gardeners would join me in my experiment and will be happy to send you the spread sheet. So give me an e-mail address if you're willing to play along!
By Penny Stine
Monday, January 20, 2014
It was so beautiful out on Saturday that I had to go for a garden stroll just to see how my overwintering plants are faring.
I was pleased with this bed of kale. It should start growing again (if I remember to water it once in a while) and be producing by April.
Ditto for the beets. I think they look pretty good; I just wish more of the seeds that I planted in September would have germinated.
I was happy with this salad burnet. I think I'll trim it in late February and see what it does.
I discovered that I forgot to dig up all my celery root. This one is pretty small and I forgot where it was and it got covered in snow. I'm going to watch it and see what happens. I'll probably dig it in a few weeks just to see what's going on. Or maybe I'll let it grow and start nibbling at the tops.
I also forgot about this lettuce, which I left where it was because it was beyond bitter and tasted quite nasty last fall.I'll probably pick it very soon, because I know lettuce likes water and I don't want to make countless trips with my watering bucket. Besides, I'm curious to see what it tastes like after being frozen for more than a month. I'm about 95 percent sure that it will still be bitter and nasty.
Last, but by no means least… (drum-rolls, please!) I discovered that the spinach I planted in late October (or maybe early November) is up! Really, it's there - look carefully for the tiny little leaves that look like blades of grass. It will stay like that for about a month or so before slightly warmer weather and a little more water will help it grow. Everything else in the garden was planted last year (or the year before), but this spinach is the first crop of the 2014 gardening season!
Woo-hoo! Winter will not last forever. Spring is just around the corner. Ladies and gentlemen, start your rototillers!
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
When I brought in some of my outside planters from the patio last fall, I had a sneaking suspicion that I was bringing in more than just pots of basil and rosemary. When I noticed little critters flying around the plants in the living room, my fears were confirmed.
When my husband complained of excessive fruit flies in late fall, long after I quit keeping peaches and tomatoes all over the kitchen counter, I remained mum.
He continued to question why we had pesky little critters in the house when it was so obviously winter outside of the house…
I finally confessed that my garden in the living room might be part of the problem. By the time I confessed, he had already discovered that pea shoot salad was pretty tasty and didn't suggest I throw out all my plants in an effort to rid the house of pests. Yay for that, since I attribute my less-intense dislike of winter and January in part to the additional plants in my living room.
Nonetheless, I was tired of the bugs, too, so I did some research and figured out they were probably some form of gnat, since they didn't fall for the fruit fly trap of apple cider vinegar and soap.
Julie, in the online dept. here at the Sentinel, said she had tried putting sand all over the soil in her houseplants to rid them of their gnats. So I went to True Value on 12th for inspiration and sand. I talked to a guy who was extremely helpful. (I love True Value on 12th - they're always extremely helpful - and they usually know what they're talking about. Plus, they have an in-store cat named Smudge. Or Mudge. Or something similar.)
The guy at True Value told me I probably wouldn't want to use any of their usually recommended houseplant bug killers, since I was regularly eating many of my plants, but he said he'd heard you could sprinkle pepper or any kind of red chile powder on the soil to keep the gnats from laying eggs. So I bought a bag of sand, brought it home and mixed it with chile powder, cayenne pepper and black pepper and sprinkled a layer of doctored sand over all of my indoor plant boxes.
That was a week ago. So far, there are still a few gnats here and there, but they do seem to be disappearing. It could be wishful thinking on my part, or it could be proof that it works.
In the meantime, yay for my chisel class at Crossroads Gym, which enabled me to pick up the 50-pound sack of sand and throw it over my shoulder and walk casually out of the hardware store. (While gasping on the inside, because 50 pounds is pretty stinkin' heavy for an old broad like me!)