Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Tuesday, June 11, 2013
For the past couple of months, my husband and I have been drinking smoothies for breakfast. My rule of thumb is to combine at least three different veggies and three different types of fruit. Boy, does that make it easy to get your daily recommended dose of fruits and veggies!
I almost always try to add something green, like spinach, kale, Swiss chard or beet greens. I do it for the nutritional content, not for the color. I've discovered when you add green leafy veggies, toss in a carrot or some cucumber, then add strawberries, frozen pie cherries or any other red fruit, you get a really yucky-looking smoothie. Tastes good, it just looks bad.
Today's smoothie actually had amaranth leaves instead of something green. I was hoping the red leaves, combined with carrots, sweet red peppers, strawberries, grapes and a banana would make it an appetizing color. I don't think it did, but we drank it regardless. It tasted just fine.
I've been able to use greens from my garden since about the middle of April, which has saved me a fair amount of money. It's also made me want to find more greens that will grow here in the heat, since my spinach now looks like this. I've got kale growing, but I'm on a quest to find something else, too.
Which led me to this. No, this is not a glass of red wine, it's a glass that had red malabar spinach seeds soaking in water overnight.I planted some red malabar spinach seeds a few weeks ago, but so far, I don't think any have sprouted. Being the impatient gardener that I am, I ordered more seeds. After planting the first seeds a few weeks ago, I read that the germination rate is better if you soak the seeds overnight before planting. So I did. I'll probably have it coming up all over the place.
While I was planting the seeds (which were nice and swollen, about twice as big as were when dry) I noticed this. It could be a weed. It could also be a tiny seedling of red malabar, since I have no idea what they look like.
All in all, it's shaping up to be a fine gardening mystery. The malabar is supposed to have bright red stems and brilliant green leaves. No telling what that will do to the color of my morning smoothie.
I've been pulling amaranth in multiple places, trying not to let it have the run of any of my gardens, flowerpots or planting beds. I thinned the ones in this plot, but decided to let them grow as big as they wanted. The bed also has some rhubarb I recently transplanted, asparagus, winter squash and a trellis with green beans and malabar spinach, so I figured it would look very interesting in another month or two. Oh yeah, it also has a nice patch of grass, but we'll just ignore that.
By Penny Stine
Friday, June 7, 2013
I was chatting with Kathy Kimbrough, owner of Garden Scentsations and president of the Lavendar Association of Western Colorado about an article I'm researching. We got off on a tangent about our own gardens (I know, go figure!) and Kathy told me she'd love to have her yard featured on the garden tour, but doesn't think she'll ever manage to pull it off, because she's often experimenting, trying new things and frequently dealing with dead or dying plants in various places in her yard.
She said that her entire yard never looks as good as it could all at the same time, but that she has pockets of greatness, which I thought was an apt and hilarious description.
So I begged her to go take a couple of photos of her current pockets of greatness so I could post them on this blog. Here is a nice shot of some lawn area, surrounded by inviting shade trees, with that lovely bench tucked away in the corner. Doesn't this make you want to get a glass of iced tea and go sit on the bench?
These are huechera, which like the shade and are a brilliant (literally, look at that color!) choice to put under a shade tree. As you can see, the plants come in multiple colors and are very showy - like brightly colored bras under a white shirt, only not so tacky!
I'm sure you'll all agree that these are, indeed, pockets of greatness!
I'm pretty sure this is lavender, along with two other types of flowers that I can identify as pretty, but can't offer anything more specific than that!
If you need help turning your ho-hum yard into one with occasional pockets of greatness, give Kathy a call. She's also a master gardener who's done a few curb appeal makeovers for Realtors to help them sell their properties quicker, at prices that make their sellers happy.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, June 6, 2013
Everyone loves wildflowers, so doesn't it sound lovely to have an area in your yard that's a designated wildflower area? Yeah, I thought so, too, when I scattered wildflower seeds out by the mailbox/irrigation cistern about 12 years ago.
Ever since then, I've been trying to tame my wildflower area. Two years ago, I planted some iris bulbs that a friend gave me out there. Last year they looked OK, this year they were fabulous ,especially since they were blooming before the weeds got huge.
Because they were included in that first packet of wildflower seeds, I get sunflowers and cosmos out there every year, which look pretty good at the end of the summer. I also gets lots of grass and weeds, which is pretty common in a wildflower area. Every year, I add more perennials or self-sowing annuals to the area in hopes they'll overpower the weeds and grass. It hasn't worked yet, but I have discovered awesome flowers like the one above, which I think is a purple mallow and which seems to reseed and spread all over the place.
I'm transplanting morning glories and amaranth to the area, in hopes that they both will reseed and spread themselves all across the area, too. If I can't get rid of the weeds, I may as well hide them behind nuisance flowers.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
I like color in my garden, which is why I tolerate this plant, called Love in a Mist. I think I'll re-name it invasive love, since it seeds itself and spreads everywhere. I've been yanking it out before it flowers - not because it will go to seed, but because once it flowers, it's too pretty for me to pull.
This is also giving my garden nice color this June. I bought a seed mixture that was supposed to have multiple colors, and most of the columbines are either yellow or white. I think this is the third year for the flowers, and it's the biggest and best they've looked.
Here's a color I didn't expect. I went out this morning to pick some kale for my morning smoothie and I saw this pretty pink leaf. It was on one of my Russian red kale plants. I guess it's a pinko kale... and that's an incredibly corny joke that only someone who remembers the Cold War will get.
I threw it in the blender with the rest of the kale and Swiss chard and then added cucumber, honeydew, mango and pineapple. It was pretty good. I have no idea if the pink kale tasted any different from the rest, nor do I know why that particular leaf was pink, but it looks kinda cool.
By Penny Stine
Friday, May 31, 2013
While there are many who would agree that my gardening obsession is a bit much, specifically, I need help in knowing what to do with this mustard, which is now coming up in several places in my garden. (It's the pretty red-leaved plant.) It's also strong and a bit on the hot and spicy side - think horseradish rather than habanero. I'm not from the south; I have no idea what to do with mustard greens. Or reds, as the case may be.
I also need suggestions for these, which are chamomile flowers. I could probably pick this amount of chamomile flowers every day. Yes, I know I can make great tea, but it's only May and the plants continue blooming through October. I don't drink that much tea.
Let me know if anyone has a suggestion for either one. I don't think combining them is an option...