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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Fall planting: spinach and garlic

By Penny Stine
Friday, September 26, 2014

Look what came in the mail the other day!
Yes, I had to order and pay for it. In spite of my enthusiasm for gardening, no one sends me free stuff in the mail.
This year, I’m trying two new types of garlic. The Italian late (in the purple mesh) is a softneck variety, which are supposed to store for longer time periods than the hardneck. You can also braid them to make a cool thing to hang in your kitchen, but in spite of the long hair on my head that I’ve been braiding for more than four decades, I can’t seem to get the hang of braiding garlic.
The garlic in the red mesh is elephant garlic, which I was curious about and wanted to try. I’ll plant them both sometime in late October for a harvest in late June/early July 2015.
I ordered two types of spinach, which I usually plant in late October/early November for a harvest the following May. This year, one of the varieties said it only took 37 days and was good for a fall crop, so I planted some this week. It’s been pretty warm around here, which is actually not good for spinach germination. I’m curious to see whether or not I’ll get any spinach before snow covers the garden. So far, I haven’t seen any sprouts, but it’s been less than a week since I planted.  


I love these green beans

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I know I’ve posted pics of my pole beans before… but look at these! It’s late September, and they’re still growing, winding themselves around their support, flowering and producing fresh beans. I was out in my garden searching for pineapple tomatillos and cherries, when I looked up and saw that I had beans ready to pick. So, of course, I had to pick them. What's interesting is that the plants themselves are looking pretty sad, but they're still producing.

I have some that look even sadder than these, but they’re still producing beans, too.


I picked some on Sunday and we ate half of what I picked with dinner. I was going to freeze the reset, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. This pic is what I picked last night after I got home from work. Now that I have these, too, I think I’d better get to it. Or else just have beans again with dinner.  


Got kale? Have I got a great salad for you!

By Penny Stine
Monday, September 22, 2014

Kale is one of the easiest and most cost-effective greens in the garden. It grows in the sun, it grows in the shade. Usually, it survives the winter and continues producing the following year.  The kale in that shady little corner is stuff I planted a year or two ago. The leaves don't get big, but the plants are about two or three feet tall. 


Sometimes, it even grows where you don’t plant it.  To be fair, I planted it last year in this spot, but it all appeared to die at the end of the season. I didn't think it was coming back, so I put a trellis in that space this year. 

Kale is not, however, one of those veggies that you can just go out to the garden, pick and eat. If you don’t prepare it the right way, the taste is downright nasty and bitter.

Normally, I roast it (or use it in scrambled eggs, pasta, a smoothie or in soup), but I was cooking dinner for a crowd and had purchased a watermelon, so I wanted to see if anyone had ever created a salad with kale and watermelon.

This is why I love the interwebs. I think I use it for cooking more than I do anything else.
There are several recipes online, I found this one and decided to more or less follow it. I made dinner for about 60 people and they all liked it, too, so it’s not just me and my weird taste buds.


The secret to a decent salad with kale is the dressing. You have to make a dressing with either lemon or lime juice in it. I like to mix the dressing and the kale ahead of time and work it with my hands to coat. I don't think the recipe I used said to do that, but I've learned to do that, especially with kale I grow in the heat of summer. The foodies call it massaging the kale. I think that sounds weird.
This bowl of kale had the juice of half a lime (instead of the lemon juice in the recipe), a splurt of olive oil and a tiny dot of honey. Trust me, it’s not the honey that takes the bitterness of the kale away - it’s the lime juice. The honey is just because I like honey. 

When I made the salad for 60 people, I remembered the sunflower seeds, but didn’t have a camera. When I made it for my husband and me on Saturday, I had a camera but forgot the sunflower seeds. It’s still pretty. 

It was also pretty tasty. I can’t seem to stop cooking for a horde, so there was a lot of leftover salad. It was still good the second day (no nuts to get soggy and the kale and watermelon were both still crunchy).

There was still plenty left, which I ate today, on day three. Although there was a bunch of watermelon juice in the container, the kale still held its shape and the salad was still tasty. Not as good or as pretty as day one, but I didn’t have many other leftovers in the fridge, so I was happy to eat kale salad for lunch.

Even my hubby, who is a little more suspicious of kale than I am, thought this was good.


More purple, please

By Penny Stine
Friday, September 19, 2014

I decided to dig a few more purple potatoes and have them with dinner last night. As you can tell from the pic, they haven’t gotten much bigger. I dug one entire hill of them, and I only got about 5 potatoes.

The skin is so dark it almost looks black or dark gray, as you can tell.






Once you cut them, however, it’s pretty obvious that they’re purple potatoes.

After assembling and cleaning all my raw ingredients, I decided they were so pretty I had to take a pic. I cut the little purple onions into medium chunks, then chopped the herbs and garlic fairly small. I put them all in foil, splashed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and put them on the grill when we did pork chops. The potatoes probably got about 15 - 20 minutes more than the chops, but the grill was only set to smoke, which is a fairly low temperature.
I was going to take a pic of the finished product, but I sensed that my darling hubby is getting tired of me taking photos of all our food.
I couldn’t taste much difference between the purple potatoes and the Yukon gold potatoes, and both came out of my garden. I will probably grow the purple potatoes again next year just because I can, and it's cool that they stay purple when cooked. 

Next time I cook with them, I really do want to make some purple mashed potatoes. 


Peppers a’plenty

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Because we cut down a dying tree, which opened my front flower bed to more sunshine, which enabled me to plant more sun-loving vegetables in my often-shady yard, I’m growing wonderful sweet peppers this year.

Right now (and for the last three weeks), I’m picking one or two almost daily. I had no idea there were that many peppers out there. I only have three pepper plants in this bed.

I had more than three plants in the spring, but the ones I planted in the bigger garden area (where I ruined the soil for a season by putting in fresh wood chips from the dead tree) weren’t happy and died, along with all the tomato plants I started from seed.

I planted two different types of peppers - Yum Yum gold hybrids from Territorial Seed and Orangesicle hybrids from Park. I bought them because they both sounded good. It was not until later that I realized they were similar peppers and I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Which is fine for now, but frustrating next spring when I will want to grow the best one again.




I’m pretty sure I have both types growing in this bed, and all the pepper plants are producing like crazy, with incredibly sweet, meaty peppers.
I’ve started to pick them with a little green still on them, because if I wait for them to turn totally gold, the bugs get them. Because they’re hanging over the lawn, my darling hubby has occasionally (and inadvertently) chewed one or two up with either the lawnmower or the weedwhacker.
These are worth repeating.  

Page 8 of 122


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