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, May 8, 2015
Irises are so pretty in May when they're in bloom. They're a relatively easy flower to grow, but the bulbs do get a little root-bound after being in the same place for a decade or two. If you've ever dug out root-bound irises, you'll swear you'll never plant them again.
I dug out root bound irises planted by the former owner ow my house (and was able to give the bulbs to the owner when she called on a whim and asked about them) and resisted the urge to plant irises anywhere in my yard for a couple years, then relented and planted them in this wildflower area out by the irrigation cistern. They make the area look really pretty in May, before the grass, weeds, mint and sunflowers take over.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
While I had enough rain in the years that I lived in Seattle to last a lifetime, now that I've been gone 15 years, I don't mind it so much. There are plenty of living things that absolutely thrive in this cool, wet weather, however, and several of them are growing in my garden.
The baby bok choy is quite happy...
as are the potatoes that recently came out of the ground and are growing like gangbusters.The beets that I left in the ground last fall are looking good, too.
The peas along this fence are thriving in the wet weather.
My perennial herbs are happy, although I'm not as happy with some of them, like this salad burnet.
It has a tendency to spread, so now I have little baby salad burnets popping up everywhere. I wouldn't mind it if the plant were particularly striking or delicious, but while it's kinda fern-like and interesting, it doesn't taste like much. So far, I'm letting it grow in shady spots, but I'm thinking I'm going to dig it out and plant other things.
And of course, the weeds are delirious. Dang weeds...
By Penny Stine
Monday, May 4, 2015
Last week, I had to give up on lettuce, but that doesn’t mean I had to give up on salad from the garden.
Check out my spinach patch. I have a few plants growing elsewhere, too, and I can pick spinach every other day and get enough for a nice big spinach salad. This year, the beet leafhopper isn’t sucking the color out of too many of the leaves, which is always a good thing.
In addition to the spinach, I’m also picking from the two planters on the deck with peas. I’m not waiting for them to flower and form peas, I’m snipping the greens, which I discovered a year or so ago were called pea shoots and were a trendy food item. They’re a tasty addition to spring salads. Especially when your lettuce is disgusting.
I was able to get a pretty good basket of goodness from the garden for salad. I added a few green onions and a couple of asparagus stalks, because I never have enough asparagus ready at the same time to actually use it as a side dish, so I just eat it raw in a salad.
The salad turned out pretty tasty. I sautéed a few shrimp and scallops in lime-infused olive oil and added those, too, along with a chopped orange pepper and a chopped frozen peach, which deteriorated into peach juice and made a great dressing.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Every year, I vow that I won’t be suckered into attempting to grow lettuce, regardless of the descriptions on the seed packets or catalogs or the tips that someone shares with me. In the 14 or so years that I’ve been gardening in the Grand Valley, I’ve been able to grow lettuce that tasted good once.
Once! That’s it. I’ve tried lots of different varieties, I’ve tried different areas in my garden; I’ve tried growing it in the fall and this year, I’m trying to grow it in pots on the deck after Julie Norman had great success growing lettuce in a container last year.
I took a taste of one of the red leaves. At first, it seemed OK. Not great, but OK. Then the bitterness began to grow. It soon overwhelmed me in a rushing tide of nastiness. Bleeaachhh!
Next, I tried this pot. There are a couple radishes in here, along with some green leaf and red leaf lettuce. I tried the green first. It was OK. Not great, but not disgustingly bitter, either. I tried the red and found it to be just as terrible from this container as it was from the other.
I used to think the lettuce I grew in my garden was bitter because of the summertime heat, but it’s not summer and it hasn’t been hot. I have been faithfully watering these little pots of lettuce, and I freshened up the soil with new soil and fertilizer.
I think it’s time to give up on lettuce.
I feel like I should go out to my containers full of lettuce and start singing, “Say something I’m giving up on you. I’m sorry I couldn’t grow you… Anytime, I would have grown you…”
Obviously, me and lettuce just weren’t meant to be.
Does anyone else have trouble trying to grow lettuce here?
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
I wanted to post these pics to show the difference between the elephant garlic, which is what these plants are and other types of garlic, which are pictured below. This is my first year to grow elephant garlic, but I read that you’re supposed to let it flower, and it gets a big, purple flower that’s quite pretty.
The garlic bulbs are supposed to be as big as a fist, and are also supposed to be milder and sweeter than regular garlic. Elephant garlic is more closely related to leeks than to regular garlic. I've got a few growing in another corner of my garden, too.
I’m growing both hard neck and soft neck varieties of regular garlic, and I can’t remember whether the garlic in this pic is hard neck or soft neck. Personally, I can’t taste the difference in the bulb, but since only hard neck varieties form scapes, I’ll know which is which based on which ones have the curly, pig’s tail growth on top.
Then I’ll promptly forget by the time I dig the garlic a month or so later.
I should remember, however, because the soft neck garlic varieties are more pliant and easier to braid for storage. They also last longer.
Elephant garlic doesn’t store for long at all and most recipes that I’ve seen say to grill it.