Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
Send stories and pictures of your horticultural adventures to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
This is a good time to get more root crops going, so I found some space near the garlic that I thought I pulled and the carrots that over-wintered. I crammed beets, parsnips and more carrots into this bed this past weekend.
The plant with the big green leaves in the center of this photo is rhubarb, which I planted several years ago and which doesn't ever get much taller. I don't know what I'm doing wrong... everybody else can grow rhubarb and mine refuses to cooperate. My husband is not too sad, since he thinks rhubarb is a waste of good garden space, but I like it.
I took a pic of the parsnip seeds because I thought they were interesting and not like any other seed I've planted.
Although I had my doubts about planting parsnips, I have to admit they are delicious when roasted with a little honey, olive oil and fresh thyme. And baked beets are equally delish.
It's way cool to have so many things already growing in mid-April. I highly recommend over-winter crops and perennial herbs - it's easier to get enthusiastic about planting if you're already harvesting something.
I'm not actually digging the garlic yet, but I do raid the greens and use them in anything I can think of - I made tuna melts with chopped green onions and garlic scape, and some of this pretty herb, which is called salad burnet and tastes faintly of cucumbers.
Seriously good tuna melts.
By Penny Stine
Monday, April 22, 2013
So we all knew the snow wouldn't last, but it was still nice to have it warm enough over the weekend to transplant the little leeks and broccoli seedlings I've been nurturing for months.
The broccoli looks pretty unimpressive, but I'm hoping once they're in the ground, the plants will take off. Saturday was a good day for it, since it was fairly cool and cloudy.
On a hot day, newly transplanted seedlings will wilt and look like they're about to croak the next day, but these looked pretty happy the next day when I went to check on them.
I'm planting two different types of broccoli this year. The green one is supposed to do well in hot weather.
This purple one is a broccoli/kale mix that sets little purple florets rather than one big head. The leaves are also edible and supposed to be good.
Don't forget, if you've started plants inside, be sure and let them transition to life outside before you plant them in the garden. A couple of days in the shade, then a day or two in partial sunshine will help them be ready for full days in the sun. And a cloudy day for planting always helps.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Yes, I know we're all deliriously happy that the mountains are receiving boatloads of snow.
Yes, my garden appreciates the moisture.
No, the blossoms on my poor little peach tree may not survive, in spite of its ghostly shroud.
By Penny Stine
Monday, April 15, 2013
OK, technically, my new Vitamix is not a garden tool. It will live on my kitchen counter, not in my garden or my garage. I will, however, use it to blend all my garden produce into lovely breakfast smoothies.
I wrote about the juicing craze that people have been using to boost their nutritional intake and/or lose weight a month or so ago, and that inspired my husband and me to start making breakfast smoothies with my old blender, which cost $5 at Goodwill and didn't really work well when it came to carrots or apples.
So I started doing some research and decided to buy a Vitamix. I bought a factory-reconditioned one from Vitamix, which came with a 5-year warranty. It was outrageously expensive, but I have been frugal about everything my entire life and decided to splurge.
The Vitamix came last week, on the day I went home early because I was getting sick. The next day, my throat was so sore and swollen it hurt to swallow.
I used my new blender four times in one day. It is the coolest kitchen appliance ever.
I took pics of one of my concoctions - I was filling it full of fruits that had mega-doses of Vitamin C in hopes that my cold would go away.
It didn't work, but I had fun playing with my new toy.
The Vitamix came with a cookbook that had a bunch of recipes for blending raw foods - lots of smoothie and cocktail recipes for all the weird things I like to grow, like tomatillos and mint.
So far, I've had enough spinach from my garden to make exactly two green smoothies, but I'm hoping that soon, I'll be able to quit buying spinach and kale from Sprouts.
Oh, and did I mention one of the best things about a Vitamix? The blades are attached to the bottom of the pitcher, so when it's time to clean it, you simply fill it half full of warm water, add a drop of soap and run it on high for 30 seconds. It cleans itself.
Now, that is my kind of kitchen appliance!
By Penny Stine
Friday, April 5, 2013
As the person whose name is the contact for this blog, I get all kinds of e-mails from people and companies who would like us to feature their products or services on our blog. Usually, I ignore them, as I'm more interested in posting pictures of tiny tomatoes than plugging someone's pest control solutions.
I got something the other day, however, from somebody trying to sell something and here is a sample of their e-mail: "Spring is here! And so begins another year of planning and planting. For others, it means self-picking of peaches in June, strawberries in July, and apples in September on farms across the country. "
Seriously, has this person ever grown peaches, strawberries or apples? Maybe somewhere else, but probably not here. Although local orchards are getting earlier and earlier varieties of peaches, I don't think anyone has a variety that's ready to pick by June. And I don't know about you, but the strawberries in my yard are usually done by July - even the Glenwood Springs Strawberry Days are held in June.
As for apples, although some might be ready by September, some of the best local apples aren't available until October.
That's why it's important to go to local sources for gardening advice and plants. Don't buy plants that won't like our soils, our weather and our growing zone because you'll just be disappointed that you can't grow blueberries like the ones you had in Michigan.
Ask the professionals at the local nurseries, not the big box stores or even online sites and blogs (yes, I get the irony... THIS is a blog!). So if you do read a lot of blogs, pay attention to where the blogger lives - if a blogger writes how easy it is to grow lettuce in Colorado, but she lives at 9,000 feet, understand that your experience won't be the same.
Most of the local pros at local nurseries are in the business because they're passionate and knowledgeable about gardening and horticulture, not because the paint department was slow and they had to help out in the garden area.
And if you hate to ask when you're not planning on buying anything, you can always call the master gardening desk at the CSU extension office! The number for Mesa County is 244-1836.
Joan Clark, pictured above, has been a master gardener for seven years. She moved here from the Front Range several years ago and discovered that what she knew about gardening in the Front Range didn't necessarily apply to our weird micro-climate and challenges, so she took a lot of the master gardening classes over again.