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, March 6, 2015
A few years ago, I got to interview Joe Cocker because he wanted to talk about tomatoes. He was a lovely person and he had read some of my old Stine’s Lines columns, where I had written about the frustrations of starting seeds. He gave me a seedling heat mat, which I treasure because how many people can say they have gardening supplies given by Joe Cocker? The man definitely knew his way around a tomato plant.
When we started seeds a few weeks ago, we filled one of our bio-dome (as Park Seed calls their seed-starting planter) with only peppers and put that planter on the heat mat. You can see by the photo that most of the seeds have germinated and some plants have their first two little leaves.
Because we’re growing a variety of sweet and hot peppers, we had more seeds than would fit in this one bio-dome, so we put pepper seeds in domes that had other types of seeds in them. In addition to peppers, we also started broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and kohlrabi. Unlike peppers, they don’t really need to be started indoors, we just like to do it because it means we’re planting seedlings in early April in the garden as soon as we have water. We also started several types of basil because basil is an extremely slow grower at first.
As you can see by this pic, whatever cole crop is planted in this dome (which is not sitting on a heat mat) has germinated and is doing nicely (it’s the tall stuff on the left). Even the basil is up (it’s the little stuff on the right). That leaves the rows in the middle with nothing germinating. Those are pepper seeds that didn’t fit in the dome on the heat mat.
The moral of this story for me is: buy another heat mat and make sure that all of my heat-loving plants are in the same planter.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
I took a quick garden stroll to check out the Brussels sprouts, which are continuing to overwinter in my garden. As you can see, the little sprouts on this portion of the stem have started to open up like little flower petals, which is a sign that I should have picked them weeks ago.
I didn’t want to pick them because they weren’t very big. I kept hoping they’d get larger.
As you can see by this pick,there were other little sprouts on the plant that still look like teeny tiny little cabbages. I decided they probably weren’t going to get any bigger, so I picked them.
I also pulled a couple of green onions and decided to do a veggie medley with some purple cabbage, orange sweet peppers, mushrooms and garlic. I sautéed some of the veggies and roasted the cabbage and the Brussels sprouts. I had to combine the sprouts with a bunch of other veggies in order to make enough to bother eating. If all that was standing between me and starvation was my overwintering veggies, I would have been dead several months ago.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, February 26, 2015
I got some of my seeds started over the weekend. Because peppers grow so slowly at first, my gardening buddy and I started those and we also started some cold-weather loving plants. We could have direct-sowed the cold-lovers in April, but we wanted to give them a little head start.
This year, I’m growing a giant kohlrabi variety that my mom recommended (which has already sprouted, as you can see in this pic) as well as an orange cauliflower, a normal broccoli and a weird broccoli variety that has stems like asparagus. We’re also trying a new kale variety that’s supposed to be sweeter than regular kale, some leftover Brussels sprouts seeds and a purple savoy cabbage. Oh, the excitement of new varieties… be still, my beating heart.
Most of the cole crops have already sprouted in my southern window.
We ordered several different types of pepper seeds, and we also used some left over pepper seeds from previous years. My friend, Jan, wants purple jalapeños, which we had leftover, while I want to continue growing the hot Fresno peppers, which were leftover. We’re trying one new hot pepper called a cayennetta, which is supposed to grow well in a pot.
We’ve got a combination of new seeds and old seeds for peppers, too. I’ve got my planters with peppers sitting on my heat mat, but so far, none of the peppers have sprouted.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
I made a cauliflower with blue cheese recipe that needed green onions. So I wandered out to the garden and look what I found!
Yes, I’ve got enough onions that are big enough to pull and use green. I also had these odd little cabbage-type leaves that I plucked from on of my Brussels sprouts plants, which I roasted with the cauliflower.
I picked the sage to go into an apple/pork chop recipe that was OK, but nothing to write home about.
It made me quite happy to do a garden stroll and find something to harvest that I could use in dinner.
Btw, the cauliflower was delicious. I highly recommend the recipe.
By Penny Stine
Monday, February 16, 2015
Another lovely week last week, with warm temperatures and no snow or rain, so I dragged the hose around on Sunday to water the plants that are growing in the garden this winter.
I was pleasantly surprised to see how tall this garlic is. It’s quite happy in this spot, which gets quite a bit of winter sun, in spite of the blue spruce planted directly west of the tree.
In the winter, the sun is in the northwest, so the tree doesn’t block the sun as much as it will start to come March, April and May, as the sun heads toward the southwest.
I also have this big tree in the front yard that’s east of the garlic spot. During the winter, as you can see, it has no leaves, so it doesn’t block the sun, either.Once the leaves are on the tree, the bed in which I planted garlic gets a lot of shade, which is why it’s a great place for over-wintering plants.
I love and hate the tree, which I think is a honeylocust. It gets those long, black pods that fall in early winter, after the city's leaf pickup service has made its last run through the neighborhood. The tree does produce nice shade for the front yard, which feels great, but makes it harder to grow a garden.