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
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.
By Penny Stine
Friday, June 21, 2013
Because both like warm soil and hot weather, I planted my pole beans and malabar spinach on the same day, which I'm guessing was May 25.I planted both on this trellis, and as you can see, the pole beans are looking good.
It took so long for the malabar spinach to sprout that I ordered another packet of seeds from Park Seed and re-planted.
A week or two ago, I saw something sprouting under a different trellis where I had also planted malabar spinach and took a photo of it. I posted it and said it might be malabar spinach.
Well... it's not. As far as I can tell, it's pigweed, which is the weedy/wild form of amaranth. As you can see, I've also got lots of grass growing in this particular bed.
Although I've been experimenting with amaranth and eating it in my breakfast smoothies, I don't think I'll start eating pigweed. Although it does grow everywhere... under any condition.
I do see these sprouting in most of the areas where I initially planted malabar (and then replanted two weeks later). I have no idea if the initial seeds I planted finally sprouted or if it took that second planting to make them come up.
In all the online sites I've turned to for information, they've cautioned that malabar germinates easily and can be invasive, often returning year after year. Another site said that seeds germinate better if they've been stratified (which is a fancy term that means simulating the natural process of getting cold, perhaps even freezing and then thawing before sprouting) or soaked overnight in water, which I did before I planted the second time.
Malabar is native to the tropics, however, which means that the seeds that fall to the ground don't freeze. They do, however, get thoroughly soaked by lots of rain, so maybe soaking was the trick. We'll see if it takes off and grows like the photos I've seen. I'm hoping it will, since summer is just beginning and we've still got months of hot weather!
I'm also hoping it doesn't taste like New Zealand spinach, which I tried 10 years ago and did not like. At all. And I like (almost) everything when it come to food!
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Before I learned in my master gardener class last year that you're not supposed to plant garlic from seed, I planted garlic from seeds I got from my mom. She planted garlic in her garden in hopes it would serve as a pest control, since neither she nor my dad like garlic.
I know! How can anyone not like garlic? How can I be a direct descendent of two people who don't like garlic???
I love garlic when it's like this. Not only are they pretty, but the lovely curlicues are the scape, and they make delicious pesto. I took some to the bluegrass festival and gave it away and promised to post the recipe, so here goes:
A bunch of garlic scapes
some olive oil
toasted pine nuts (a big 'ole handful)
grated parmesan cheese
Blend all of the above in a good blender or a food processor. Tastes good on a cracker, with pasta or wherever you'd normally use basil pesto.
Sorry I can't be more specific, but I was in a hurry and didn't measure anything.
The tricky part about garlic is knowing when to pick. You don't want to harvest while it's green and growing because the bulb isn't fully developed. You don't want to wait until it's like this, because the leaves often get separated from the bulb and it's hard to find the bulb, since it's underground.
I didn't plant this patch of garlic - it's what I didn't find last year. I'm sure I'll have it here again next year because it died back so suddenly and I didn't dig it in a timely manner.
In spite of my late digging, I got this much garlic. Yes, it was dark outside by the time I took this picture. I could make up a story and say that garlic tastes better when it's harvested by the light of the moon, but really, I just didn't want to wait any longer to harvest it, so I dug it one night after working all day, going to the grocery store and doing dinner when I discovered how much the stalks had dried while I wasn't paying attention.
The next day I cleaned the bulbs with this little plastic pink brush and discovered another reason not to wait so long to dig the garlic. You lose the thin, paper-like covering that protects the bulbs and allows them to store for months.
When I tried to brush this one clean, I brushed the covering off. I'm sure this is one of the garlic planted from seed, because it's one big bulb rather than a bulb made of up several cloves. That's what you often get when you plant from seed. Although I dug several normal bulbs with decent cloves, at least half of what I dug are large garlic uni-bulbs.
Oh well. It all tastes the same. And unlike my parents, I think it tastes delicious!
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
I swap gardening stories with anyone who plants anything, so when Beckie Giles, who is an advertising sales rep here at the Sentinel, told me how well her garden was doing, I asked her to send me photos. She sent them while I was gone to the bluegrass festival, but here they are.
Beckie said this tomato is called mountain fresh, average size is 8-10 oz., matures in 76 days and was planted May 17.
I planted mine a week earlier. I have no tomatoes on my vines...
Beckie said she planted this squash from seed on May 20.
I had to wait until May 25 to plant. My plants haven't even started flowering yet. Something has eaten several when they first came up, so I've had to replant.
She planted the cabbage as plants on May 15.
I don't grow cabbage because I never think about eating it.
This is Beckie's red vein kale, which she planted May 27.
Although the kale in my garden has been fabulous for a month or so, everything else in my garden is pretty sad compared to Beckie's. That's why it's never a good idea to compare gardens, merely swap stories about what works, what's tasty and how to kill squash bugs.