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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Ground cherries are slow to return

By Penny Stine
Friday, June 26, 2015

Last year was my first year to grow pineapple tomatillos, aka ground cherries. I loved them. They were good raw and they were great in a pie or a coffee cake. I loved them in a cucumber salad with feta cheese and peaches. I also loved just eating them in the garden.
After reading that they were notorious about re-seeding themselves and coming back, I made sure to leave some on the plants & let a few others fall to the ground and remain there at the end of the season last year. Seriously, I probably left a hundred little tomatillos on the ground.

This spring, I eagerly waiting for them to reappear. And waited some more. I also planted lettuce in the same bed, figuring that the lettuce would be an early crop that would go to seed about the time the pineapple tomatillos started to grow and take off. That strategy worked brilliantly. 

Finally, I got impatient waiting for the ground cherries to start growing, so I went to Bookcliff Gardens. They had three plants left, so I bought two of the remaining ones. When I went home to plant them, I discovered that I had one volunteer pineapple tomatillo plant coming up.

The one volunteer plant has now caught up to the two I bought from Bookcliff, although it doesn't have any fruit on it yet. The ones from Bookcliff already have a few little tomatillos on them.  

I’ve also discovered a few more coming up in other places.


Of course, most of them are all coming up in a clump.
I’ve transplanted two of the volunteers to a less crowded space. At first, they went into shock, but I think they’ll recover.
I don’t know why so few of the hundreds of seeds I left in the ground actually germinated, but I think I’ll end up with about six or seven plants, and that should be plenty.  


Mystery solved

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I was out in another area of my garden and I took a more careful look at the various cole crops, and I discovered that once they got to be a certain size, it was easy to tell what they were. Look at these tiny kohlrabi! I've never grown kohlrabi before, but when I was a teenager, my mom always planted it in our Wyoming garden. She still grows it in her Nebraska garden, which gets almost as hot as we do here. 

Kohlrabi is one of those weird veggies that you don't see in the grocery stores much, but last summer when we visited my mom, she sliced one and I remembered how much I like them. Hubby also said it was tasty, so I had to grow it in this year's garden. This kohlrabi is obviously not the purple variety, so I'll be able to compare the purple to the white and see which one I like better. For those who have never tried it, it tastes kind of like the stem part of broccoli (which is actually my favorite part), but better. You can eat it raw or cook it. 


Mysterious cole crops

By Penny Stine
Monday, June 22, 2015

Am I the only one who plants things without marking where I’ve put various veggies so that when the seeds sprout, it’s a guessing game to discover exactly what’s growing?
It’s not a problem for crops I’ve grown before… I’ve gotten pretty good at distinguishing tomatillos no matter how small they are, but these two are my current mystery.


I’m pretty sure this one is the Beira Tronchuda kale. I planted it in several places in the garden (and have several plants that look like these ones).
I know in this particular planting box, I did Beira Tronchuda kale on one side and kohlrabi on the other, and since they’re both members of the cole family of veggies, they tend to look alike as seedlings.

As you can see from these, however, they have a purplish/reddish color on the stems, so I’m thinking this is the kohlrabi, since I think I planted purple kohlrabi. If this is kohlrabi, I’m going to have to thin, which always breaks my heart. Maybe I can transplant whatever seedlings I pull from this location to a spot where they have more room.  


Elephant Garlic info

By Penny Stine
Thursday, June 18, 2015

I planted some elephant garlic last fall and have been watching it to see what it does. I'm also somewhat impatient to eat it, since I read that it's delicious grilled or roasted. You're supposed to wait until after it flowers, which you can see it's doing right now, and begins to die back a bit. 




I was making hummus for a crowd last night and wanted to use some roasted elephant garlic in it, so I dug up one of the bulbs.There were three tiny cloves on the outside that probably would have gotten huge if I would have waited, but the roasted elephant garlic was a nice addition to the hummus. 

I'm going to be patient and wait for the right time to dig the rest. I'm curious to see how big they'll get. This one was only slightly larger than a normal garlic bulb, and I'm curious to see if they will really grow into elephantine proportions. 


Learning about flood irrigation

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A neighbor’s irrigation cistern was overflowing the other day, which happens a lot when you live in a neighborhood with an old irrigation system, no HOA and every homeowner responsible for the ditch at their home. This cistern feeds a house on the street behind my house, so there’s an underground pipe that runs through my yard to their lot.
The overflowing cistern didn’t cause any problems for the neighbor who actually owns the cistern, since his house is too far away from the flood, but it created quite a river in my yard and garden. It also created a mud pond in the neighbor’s house next door.
It was the second time in three days for the river in the garden, so my plants all got a nice good soak. After the first time, I assumed it would be the only time, so I decided to make good use of all that moist soil and plant a few seeds in bare spots where something either didn’t come up or it came up but got eaten by bugs. Needless to say, I’m sure those seeds flowed downriver during the second flood and may come up in my neighbor’s mud pond once it dries out a bit.
Fortunately, the neighbor with the mud pond was able to open up the cistern and clean it out. He found a root ball and a 2X4 that were blocking the flow of water. Yes, a 2X4, which makes a mighty fine dam in a little bitty irrigation pit. As soon as he moved them both, the water level dropped and the river quit flowing through my garden.
Other than losing a few seeds, it really didn’t cause any damage, and in fact, with as hot as it’s supposed to get this weekend, it probably did my plants good to get such a good soak. I've had a hard time getting that compost bin in the pic wet enough to help the grass, leaves and branches actually decompose, so I'm sure the soaking at the ground didn't hurt that, either. 

My tomato plants certainly look happy. Some of them have caught up to the big plants I bought from the store, and I think a few might have even gotten bigger. I’ve got blossoms on several, but no tomatoes yet.
There are a couple places in the garden where the floodwaters didn’t reach, so the plants in those spots look parched and dry, gasping for a little moisture. Meanwhile, the soil is still damp everywhere else.
As you can tell by all the photos, the weeds are ridiculously happy. They grow really well with flood irrigation. I went out and pulled 10 gallons of weeds the other day, but you couldn’t tell. At all.
Dang weeds.  

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