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 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.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, June 27, 2013
I have way too many things in my garden that I didn't plant. Although I try to pull the weeds, I have a hard time pulling all the volunteer plants, like this amaranth that reseeds itself every year.
It's such a cool-looking plant...
It's also an edible plant. I'm not too crazy about it raw in salads and it tends to be very grass-flavored in smoothies. Not that I graze often, but it just makes my morning smoothies taste like what I think breakfast would be like if I were a cow.
Amaranth leaves are sturdy, however, like kale, so I decided to experiment last weekend and try roasting them. We were having company for dinner and I thought I'd better make a few experimental ones for me to test before I served them to our friends.
I used a little too much olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning on these. When I roasted them later for dinner, I restrained myself on the seasonings and discovered they are as good as roasted kale.
Hmm... Maybe I'll try eating bindweed next...
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
I'm becoming the official chronicler of Daily Sentinel gardens. Diana Pace in our circulation department shared some lovely garden photos with me.
She wrote: the pictures are from first day of planting 4/28/13...
to the most recent one taken on 6/23/13.
Penny's note: here's one from June 15
Diana said they have already harvested carrots,lettuce, tomatoes, bell peppers, beets, sweet peas and "fooled ya" peppers.
Corn has tassels and beans have grown to over 5' tall.
Penny's note: Look at her squash!
Diana promises to share more photos in the future, and Penny promises not to be jealous of a garden space that gets more than 5 or 6 hours of sunlight per day.