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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My garden loves the mild winter

By Penny Stine
Monday, February 9, 2015

Last fall, I left the Brussels sprouts out in the garden when they didn’t produce before Thanksgiving. Ditto for some mid-summer planted carrots and beets. I also left some onions out there near one of the Brussels sprouts plants. I didn’t cover the Brussels sprouts, but did spread straw all over the carrots.




As you can see by the pic, the onions look fine, perhaps a little thirsty. The Brussels sprouts (it’s supposed to be purple) is droopy, but when I looked more closely, look what I saw!



Yep, tiny little Brussels sprouts. I’m not sure when I’m supposed to pick them. The ones growing elsewhere look like they're starting to open, but they're still pretty tiny. 




I decided to water my everything on Saturday since we haven’t had much rain, so I dragged the hose around to water my spinach that came up a couple weeks ago, as well as the Brussels sprouts and the area where I had carrots and beets. I was curious about the carrots and beets, so I rooted around in the straw to see what was there.
Check out the carrots - don’t they look fine and dandy?









These beets look pretty promising, too.







I’m thinking the biggest challenge I’ll have with these plants isn’t the cold, but the lack of water. Looks like I’ll be dragging around the hose or my watering can.

When I was out doing a weekend garden checkup, I looked in on the garlic. It’s up, too!
Yay for mild winters! 


First crocus is blooming

By Penny Stine
Friday, February 6, 2015

Yes, the first crocus of 2015 is blooming - outside, no less, in my yard! 

I planted a bunch of new crocus bulbs last fall in this bed simply because I love how early they bloom. This is probably the earliest they've ever bloomed in this bed, and I know that come July, I'll wish that more snow fell in the mountains this winter, but right now, I'm just happy to see a flower blooming in my flower bed. 

I think I normally see crocuses blooming in this bed at the end of February or the very first part of March. 


More fun with frozen tomatillos

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I know I said it a month ago, but I’ll say it again. If you’re planning your 2015 garden, leave some space for tomatillos. You’ll need a lot of space, because you need more than one plant for pollination and a couple of plants tend to spread out and want to take over the world, or at least their corner of the garden.

When I first started growing tomatillos, I had no idea what to do with them besides make green salsa. We don’t eat a lot of salsa, so I started canning them with tomatoes. This year, I simply peeled and washed them, then stuck them in gallon zip-loc freezer bags.

A couple of days ago, I wanted to try a recipe I’d seen online for eggs baked in halved avocados. It’s supposed to be a light breakfast or brunch, but it was going to be our dinner. I wanted something hearty, but not necessarily time-consuming or meaty to go with it, so I settled on lentils with tomatillos.




I googled lentils and tomatillos and found a recipe, then decided not to follow it. Instead, I sautéed onions, garlic and a tiny amount of chopped red hot chiles in olive oil. While the onions were cooking, I chopped about 15 frozen tomatillos into smaller chunks, then added them when the onions got soft. I rinsed a cup of red lentils, then tossed those in, too, with at least a cup of water.




As the lentils cooked, I added another cup or so of canned beef broth (chicken or vegetable would be fine, too, I just had a carton of open beef broth), as well as an additional few shakes of garlic seasoning salt. I used red lentils just because I had them. I bought them at Sprouts because they look more appetizing than regular lentils. I have no idea if they're any different nutritionally. 

While the lentils cooked, I halved an avocado, put in a few drops of Tabasco-like sauce, then broke an egg into each avocado half. Because the eggs were large and the avocados were small, the white spilled over the side. I baked the eggs for about 5 minutes at 425 degrees, scooping up the whites as the eggs baked and piling them on top.
To serve, I put a generous helping of the lentils on the plate and then nested the avocado and egg on top. The yolk was still runny and it was delicious. Kind of like hash, only not.
There were quite a few lentils left (it’s amazing how one cup of lentils turns into 2 - 3 cups of lentils), and they were good leftover, too.  


First sprouts of 2015

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, January 20, 2015

I went out to my garden to see if I had any spinach sprouts yesterday when I went home for lunch. As you can see, I do! Those little green blades that look like grass are actually spinach sprouts. 
I know from experience that these won’t grow much over the next two months, but even if it gets really cold, it won’t hurt them. Last year, in spite of the cold inversion that came in December and didn’t leave until mid-January, I still had spinach up in late January that did just fine through multiple freezes and snowstorms in Feb. and March.
Hopefully, I’ll be picking fresh spinach by mid-April.
I planted some kohlrabi seeds last fall in about September, hoping for a fall crop. I had marginal germination, but here’s one that came up, but didn’t form a kohlrabi. I left it in the garden, wondering if it would do something this spring. Time will tell.
I’ve noticed onions and garlic are perking up in places from leftover bulbs that never got pulled last year, but I’ll go do a more thorough search in places where I planted them both in the fall later this week to see if anything else is up and getting a start on the 2015 gardening season.  


Garden planning: Curbing the squash bug invasion

By Penny Stine
Thursday, January 8, 2015

I'm sure I will write a few more posts talking about garden planning, because frankly, that's all about all a gardener can do in January and February! I've been looking at catalogs, thinking about last season's garden and googling info to try and figure out new varieties I may want to try this year. Because squash bugs are such a problem in the Grand Valley and have killed squash plants in my garden, I looked for squash-bug resistant squash plants. I knew from my master gardening class that Waltham butternut was fairly resistant, but I wanted a summer squash. Fortunately, I found one! www.rareseeds.com/lemon-squash/

I've never grown lemon squash before, but I'm willing to give it a go. I love summer squash and hate squash bugs, so it would be wonderful to find a squash plant that those nasty little critters didn't like. 

Needless to say this squash variety will get a prominent space in my 2015 garden. 

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