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 letsgetdirty@gjsentinel.com.

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Tomato trauma

By Penny Stine
Thursday, May 23, 2013

I planted tomatoes a couple of weeks ago and was so excited about the size of the plants, which I had raised from seed. I had at least seven different varieties, including two pink Caspian tomatoes, which I started because Dixie Burmeister said they were wonderful. The ones on this trellis are doing just fine.






The weeds are, too. But the weeds will be history after this weekend. 




I marked almost all of the plants with a color-coded yarn system so I could keep track of which tomatoes I liked and which were flops. I ran out of different colored bits of yarn in my pockets, so this one is marked in blue tape. Really, it is. I put the tape higher up on the trellis because I'm counting on the tomato plant to get a lot taller. It's a Cherokee chocolate, which I've never grown before. 


Much to my great distress, something ate my pink Caspians completely down to the ground within the first couple of days.







As if that wasn't traumatic enough, something gnawed through the stems of at least three other tomato plants. 


Bookcliff Gardens has pink Caspian tomatoes this year, thanks to Dixie's polite nagging of Dennis Hill. Even though I spent tons of time and money on seeds and raised all those tomatoes, I went to Bookcliff and bought a pink Caspian to replace the two I lost. 



On the positive side, the cucumbers that I was waiting ever-so-(im)patiently for finally sprouted!


A surprise in every seed

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, May 14, 2013

I've planted hundreds of seeds. Actually, in the last decade, I've probably planted thousands of seeds, from flowers to veggies, fruits and herbs. I should not be so surprised and pleased every time a seed sprouts and those little green leaves (or maroon, if you're planting amaranth) shoot above the ground, but I can't help myself.

If the seeds don't sprout after a few days, I'm often tempted to go poking around in the dirt, just to see what's happening. I resist the temptation, telling myself to be patient and that the seeds will sprout when conditions are right. I manage to convince myself that the seeds aren't going to germinate, that those carrots will not sprout, that it was too cold to plant the cucumbers or that the birds managed to eat all the beet seeds.



After planting seeds, I watch a spot, checking every day to see if anything sprouts.




Lo and behold, they do... and every time, I'm amazed. Btw, if you're planting carrots, (like the little sprouts in this photo) be sure and water often. I've learned by trial and error (mostly error when my carrots had such lousy germination rates) be sure and water a little bit every day until they sprout. Carrot seeds like to be kept moist. 










The funning thing is that I've got plenty of stuff growing in my garden that I didn't plant - or at least that I didn't plant this year. The plants manage to re-seed themselves all over the place, with no help whatsoever from me, like this red mustard.
God has been perfecting this growing thing for a long time. I really should accept that he knows what he's doing.  


Petunnies potted

By Penny Stine
Friday, May 10, 2013

Although I planted almost all the seedlings I started inside last weekend, I had a few herbs and petunias that I just didn't get around to planting. So on Monday and Tuesday after work, I planted sorrel, basil and celery root in the rain. I didn't take any pics because it was raining. Duh. No, I do not have sense enough to come in out of the rain.
The poor little petunias were water-logged by Thursday, so I decided I should get them in my flower pots.
They are not impressive, but they grow like crazy once they're in the ground, so I hope that soon my flower pots will be overflowing with brightly colored petunias. These are a new strain of petunias, but I can't remember what they're called. I think I also have a few very expensive white petunias called Coconut Shock Wave, but I didn't pay attention to which was which, so I'll be surprised.

I've also scattered zinnia seeds in these pots because hummingbirds love zinnias and I love to sit and watch the hummingbirds flit by my flowerpots. 

Grow, little flowers, grow!


Grounded… finally

By Penny Stine
Monday, May 6, 2013

I worked like a crazy woman to get all those little tiny plants that I've been blogging about in the ground on Saturday. Actually, I gave about two-thirds of them away to my friends with whom I share the cost of our online seed catalog addiction. I planted the rest.
First, however, my husband, who is an all-around wonderful guy, helped me carry out all the trellises that I use. He built them for me a couple of years ago and I like to experiment and put them in different places in the garden.
I decided this one will go closest to the street, where it gets the most sunshine. Tomatoes are planted on one side and melons on the other. I'm hoping the melons will also grow up the netting. I think I planted honeydew, tasty bites and one called American green on this netting, but I wouldn't guarantee it. I'm going to throw some giant marigold seed around, too, in hopes of creating a colorful jungle that makes the neighbors wonder what I'm up to when they walk by. 
I also planted tomatoes on one side of this particular trellis. There's one tomato on the other side and one melon, and room for other climbing vines that I'll start from seed. I just haven't figured out which climbers to put on the other side of this trellis. I've had tomatoes here before and was disappointed with how they produced, but I think it's because I was too severe in how I attempted to train them to climb the trellis. I've repented and promise to let them do as they please this year. Plus, I used a lot more Mesa Magic in the soil, so I have high hopes. 

This is a new trellis. Yes, it's actually a pallet. My husband told me it made us look like the Beverly Hillbillies, but I assured him that it would be all the rage for homeowners everywhere when it was covered by a cucumber vine.
I have one more trellis in a small garden area out back that will be home to this interesting climbing spinach vine (it's called Malabar or Ceylon spinach) as well as winter squash. I'm planting both from seed this year and won't plant either one until the soil gets a little warmer. Malabar spinach is supposed to thrive in hot weather, so I'll be curious to see how well it grows. And whether or not my husband and I like it.  

I also planted a bunch of herbs, some summer squash, peppers and celery root. Looking at these photos, it doesn't look like I did much, but I managed to do it all day!


Tucking my babies in for the night

By Penny Stine
Thursday, May 2, 2013

Since it was supposed to freeze last night, I brought all my seedlings in to spend the night on the kitchen table. I carried them all back out this morning around 5:45 and noted that the thermometer on the deck said it was almost 40.

I wasn't going to bring them in again tonight. The earlier forecast said it would get down to 37, but I just checked NOAA and it said 31. Dang! Guess I'll be bringing all these plants back in... They're going in the ground this weekend, but in the meantime, I'll tuck them all back in tonight in the house. It would be so sad to kill them now.

Page 70 of 147


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