Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Thursday, July 10, 2014
Last weekend, I realized I needed to pull the rest if my garlic before it disappeared. I’m sure I left some in the ground, but that’s OK, it will just get bigger for next year, like this one that I dug a few weeks ago from a spot left over from last year.
I thought about attempting to braid these garlics, but decided the twine worked just as well. This small bouquet of garlic is now hanging in my kitchen.
Right now, all the garlic that I pulled over the weekend is laying in a big pile on a table on my back patio. I think it’s supposed to cure for a couple of weeks, so that’s what I’ll say it’s doing. One of these days, I’ll brush all the dirt off and attempt to braid or string it all together in some sort of fashion so I can it in the kitchen, too.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Last night, I decided to tackle this bed. It’s my front flower bed, and before we cut down the large, dying silver maple in the front yard, it got too much shade to grow anything but shade-loving flowers and herbs that will grow anywhere. It was overrun by parsley and mint.
I tore out most of the mint and parsley, saved the perennials that I liked to plant somewhere else and decided to plant a few melons, some peppers and my pineapple tomatillos in this bed, since it now gets a good amount of sunshine.
I did not add any wood chips to this soil last fall or this spring, which means the plants are faring better than plants elsewhere in my garden. Boy, did I learn a lesson about adding non-decomposed wood to garden soil… (in case you’re new to this blog - don’t do it!)
As you can see by the pic, there were plenty of volunteer plants in this bed, too, like cosmos, more mint and a pretty spreading ground cover that I dug up (or at least thought I dug up) and established elsewhere. The bed was also overflowing with bindweed.
It took me quite a while to pull everything and bust up the clods of dirt, which was important, since I decided to plant a mini fall garden in this bed.
In the empty spaces between the tomatillos, melons and peppers, I liberally sprinkled carrot, kale, Swiss chard and beet seeds.
I’m having trouble with this particular zone in my sprinkler system (of course, it’s the zone with the largest amount of garden space, which is also causing me additional problems this garden season) but this bed is right next to the hose spigot, and I’m willing to water with domestic water.
I’ll have to be vigilant about the bindweed, but I’m hoping the Swiss chard and kale like it and decide to sprout. Although I’ve got enough of both to eat a couple of times a week now, I don’t have enough to freeze, and I really like having frozen garden greens to eat all winter.
I’ll be curious to see how well seeds germinate in this bed, since they haven’t germinated very well at all anywhere else!
By Penny Stine
Monday, July 7, 2014
We were in Denver over the past weekend, and our sons have a pie cherry tree in their back yard. The youngest asked me if I wanted to help him pick the cherries. Of course I did.
The tree was loaded, and because it’s in Denver, where there aren’t many fruit trees (and therefore, not as many pests like the cherry fruit fly), the cherries weren’t buggy or wormy.
We picked two large bowls of cherries and made a cherry cobbler. He wanted me to teach him how to bake a cherry pie, but he didn’t have a rolling pin, white flour or corn starch, so we had to go for cobbler. We also had plenty left over to freeze, which he said he’d either turn into cherry preserves or just eat plain.
If you’ve never eaten frozen pie cherries, you should try them. They’re tart, but somehow extremely delicious and not near as tart as when they’re fresh.
He was happy that I was there to help him pick cherries, and I was pretty tickled pink to be picking cherries with my son, who’s becoming quite the gardener. His squash is doing so much better than mine...
There were still quite a few green cherries left on the tree, which he said he would pick as they ripened.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
I bought a bunch of flower seeds in January or February when I was trying to combat the winter blahs, determined that I would plant all my flowers from seed this year. But some of them got nipped by a late spring frost when I forgot to bring them in, so I ended up planting cucumbers in this planter, which also has a few flowers (I don’t know what, exactly), some red-veined sorrel and a watermelon.
I don’t know why I stuck a watermelon seed in the soil… Perhaps I thought the cucumber would be lonely.
Now the pot is probably too crowded, but I just can’t bring myself to tear out either the cucumber or the watermelon. The cucumber plant (which is a compact variety that's supposed to be perfect for containers) has cukes that are about two centimeters long, and look what I saw on the watermelon vine!
I planted watermelon in two other big pots, plus in a front flower bed and in a couple of places over in my west garden. It’s one of the few melons and/or squash that doesn’t seem to be getting chomped by bugs or rodents or whatever is killing them by eating all the leaves off a week or so after the seedlings come up.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
I’ve been trying to grow raspberries for years. The bushes in my yard look extremely healthy and they send suckers and spread like crazy. They even flower. But those flowers don’t produce fruit. I have moved them around my yard to three different places. (And even though I tried to dig out all the non-productive bushes when I was moving them, I didn’t succeed, so I have raspberry bushes that don’t produce berries in three different places.)
Hope springs eternal, however, and I think I’ve identified a place that might work. This is a little bed next to my weed flower area that had some onions and a broccoli plant. It doesn’t get full sun, so it can be challenging for some plants, but may be a good thing for raspberry bushes. It's also in a part of my yard that I can control the water a little bit better. I can also fertilize easily.
After sending my question out to the universe via Facebook (ie., why don’t my berry bushes actually produce berries?), I think the answer lies in the amount of water and/or fertilizer they get.
So I pulled most of the onions out of the bed, left the broccoli in place and tried to pull out all the weeds, too. Then I shoveled up some raspberry plants that were in their first year (i.e.., non-fruit-bearing year) and replanted them.
They don't look real happy in this pic, but I'm hoping they'll recover.
Next spring, I will give them plenty of fertilizer and water and see what happens.
Of course, the weeds will also come roaring back, so it will be a struggle to keep them out, but since raspberry bushes are fairly weed-like in their persistence and tenacity to spread, I think they’ll hold their own.
I’ve been checking on all the raspberry bushes in my yard. So far, all the flowers are drying up and turning into brown little non-berries. So sad…