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, July 9, 2013
My husband and I went to Nebraska for the 4th of July. My mom's garden is looking much better than mine, thanks to glorious sunshine all day long. She composts everything, so she often gets volunteer plants that spring up all over her garden. This year, she had at least a hundred volunteer tomato plants.
We dug up as many as we had room for in the car, and I brought them back to GJ to transplant to my garden. They weren't too happy after riding on the floor of the car and getting transplanted on a hot day, but the rain that fell on Sunday hit my house and soaked them after I'd already watered them. They were quite happy about that.
However, after the 95 degree temps yesterday, I went out to see how they fared.
Most of them were a little shocked.
Some of them were a lot shocked.
At least one or two were downright dead. (I didn't take a pic of those - who wants to be reminded of dead plants?)
Since we probably have a good two and a half to three months before we freeze, I figured it wasn't too late to transplant tomatoes. And doesn't everyone need 25 tomato plants in her garden?
Well... I suppose not if they look like this one.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
No, these aren't from my garden. I got to work this morning and found this pic in my e-mail inbox, along with a note from Beckie Giles, who has lovely sun all day long in her garden, saying, "First tomatoes of the season!"
At least I now have plenty of green tomatoes on several plants...
Happy July 3rd, everyone! May your picnic tables tomorrow be overflowing with friends, food and love.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
After reading a bit more about the optimal time to dig garlic, I decided mine was ready.
You're not supposed to wait for the tops to turn completely brown, like I did with my earlier garlic. If you do, the bulbs aren't left with enough of the paper-like husk that allows them to store for months. I ended up with a lot of garlic that I need to use quickly.
Although I planted the hardneck garlic in one place and the softneck in a different spot, when I dug them, I just dug the bulbs that I thought were ready, and that included a few of both.
OK, it included a lot of both. Especially since I already have a couple dozen garlic bulbs.
I let the garlic cure outside on my deck, where it sat in the shade and out of the sun (which can change the flavor of garlic, according to some experts) for a couple of days.
Then I discovered the reason for the names hardneck and softneck. I think this photo really says it all. The hardneck dries brittle, whereas the softneck remains pliable. While growing, the hardneck forms the delicious scape, but the softneck is said to store longer.
Then I went online and read about making garlic braids. I found several youtube videos (here for softneck, here for hardneck) and thought it would be easy-peasy, especially since I've been braiding my own hair for more than three decades.
Ha ha ha.
After multiple attempts and quite a few sessions rewatching the video, I was eventually able to braid the softneck garlic.
I never did get the hang of how she was doing the hardneck variety. It was getting dark and the mosquitos came out, so I left it on my picnic table and went inside to take a photo of the one I did manage to make.
By Penny Stine
Monday, July 1, 2013
Red, white and blue are great for a day, but I love the other colors of July, too. I know the white flowers pictured here in my parsley/mint bed are shasta daisies and there is some Russian sage in the background. I can't remember what the little pink flowers are. It was some sort of drought tolerant perennial that I bought at Bookcliff Garden for a couple bucks in a two-inch pot. It's spread quite a bid and seems to be able to hold its own in the never-ending battle for supremacy waged by the parsley, mint and bindweed.
Who doesn't love the bright orange tiger lilies that are blooming all over town right now?
I'm also a big fan of yarrow. This is the pink version. I've got white and yellow somewhere in my yard... the yellow flower in front of the yarrow is goldenrod.
I'm happy about the petunias in my flower pots on the deck. I started them from seed and they were still incredibly tiny when I transplanted them outside.
The purplish ones are supposed to be a brand new type of petunia with pointed leaves. I got the seed from Park Seed, but I can't remember what it's called. I looked on their website and none of the names sound familiar, either.
The tiny petunia plants looked silly in this big pot, so I transplanted some morning glory that was coming up where I didn't want it, which is why my flower pot has a tomato cage on it. Not sure if the petunia will survive being shaded by the morning glory wants it takes off, but it's pretty now.
Now here's an interesting flower. This is a pepper plant. I'm growing six different types and I have no idea which kind this is. But it has purple flowers! Every edible pepper plant I've ever planted has had tiny white flowers.
I've got giant marigolds and zinnias growing happily in my garden, so I should have some nice color there in a few weeks, too.
Don't the colors of summer just make ya' happy?
By Penny Stine
Friday, June 28, 2013
I don't like to rototill my garden because I have some perennials thrown into various spaces. I also have a lot of self-seeding annuals, herbs and veggies that I'd prefer not to disturb or scatter elsewhere.
Just for grins, I thought I'd take a stroll at lunch a take a few pics of things I didn't plant this year, but are obviously doing just fine regardless.
Tomatillos and cosmos. I bought tomatillo seeds several years ago and started them indoors and fretted over them. I've never bought them since. In fact, I probably dug up and gave away more than 70 tomatillo plants this year.
I bought seeds about 10 years ago and haven't had to replant it since then. Unfortunately, the dill is ready now, and my biggest cucumber is about an inch long. I tried freezing it one year and drying it the next, and it just wasn't the same.
This is borage. I bought the seeds because it was supposed to be a good companion plant for strawberries. The flowers are edible, kind of sweet like candy. They look cool on a salad.
But once you have it, it tends to go all sorts of places you'd rather it didn't. Like the yard.
I've chatted about amaranth before and have now resorted to eating it.I didn't plant these in my flowerpots this year, last year or ever, but I did use my own compost in this pot last year and it sprouted an amaranth or two. So now I have a dozen.
That's OK. In addition to roasting the leaves, I also discovered they're not bad in a smoothie if you also add this, which is red leaf perilla, or shiso, as it's also called. I have it coming up all over the place. I had a bigger plant that would've looked better in a photo, but I stripped all the leaves and put it in my morning smoothie with the little amaranth leaves and mint.
Anyone who's ever had mint knows you never have to plant it more than once.
I've also discovered that chamomile is self-sowing.Some varieties are supposed to be perennials, but I'm pretty sure I planted the annual.
It doesn't seem to make a difference. I've got it in several places, and the plants are bigger and have more flowers than last year's plants.
Here's perhaps the strangest thing I didn't plant this year, in two different pics. I planted carrots in both of these places last year and was disappointed when they didn't come up. So I figured the area was too shady and planted an herb called salad burnet in one spot last summer and planted kale in the other spot this spring.
A week or so ago I discovered that the carrots I planted last year finally came up!
And so did the kale.
I'm glad I have so many things that came up without me actually planting them this year, because I also have planting beds like this one, in which I planted something (carrots? kale? beets?) that decided not to grow this year.
Perhaps they'll sprout next spring.