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.

Page 8 of 112

Check out Joy’s mushrooms

By Penny Stine
Thursday, May 15, 2014

I brought a seed catalog to the office and shared it with one of my coworkers, Joy Pope, who grows a big garden with her husband. They decided to order a mushroom kit from Park Seed just for fun. 

I'm not sure what came with the kit, or when they got it started, but she told me her husband picked a couple of giant mushrooms, so I asked her to bring in pics to share on the blog. 





I've never grown mushrooms, but judging by this pic, and from little I know, I'm assuming you're supposed to keep the box covered in a cool, damp place. 







I'm assuming it's OK to take a peek every now and then, just to see what's happening in the box. 


Joy said her husband picked a couple a few days ago when they were tiny, but she told him to wait until they got bigger. It obviously didn't take long. 

I may have to add mushrooms to my growing list. I'll bet you could do them in the winter pretty easily. 


It survived

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I bundled up my tomato plants pretty well in anticipation of the frost on Monday night and left them covered up all day yesterday. 

Because I wasn't going home for lunch (and I checked the temperature and discovered it was already above freezing) I decided to unveil them before I left for work this morning. 







Overall, I think they look pretty good. 

Had it been the end of a long growing season with plenty of delicious tomatoes already harvested, consumed or canned for the winter, I wouldn't have bothered covering up the plants. But I just purchased these plants a week earlier and didn't want to lose them. 







especially because of this:

I'm thinking for the first time ever in the history of Penny Stine gardening, I will have a tomato from my garden in June, thanks to the big honking tomato plants at Bookcliff. 

I'm hoping to get the little tomatoes I started from seed planted sometime in the next two days. They won't be producing tomatoes until late July or August. 


Spinach challenges

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I’m a little disappointed in my spring spinach, but like many things in my garden, I have a sneaking suspicion it’s my own fault it didn’t germinate very well. As you can see by the pic, I have some spinach growing. I also have some growing in another spot.

I planted lots more, both in this spot and in the other. I’m guessing about one in five seeds actually sprouted. I’m sure part of the reason is because I plant in the fall and allow it to germinate in the winter. You lose a lot that way.

I also suspect it’s because I put wood chips in my soil last fall after we had the dead tree in the front yard cut down. I figured they’d decompose and add good organic matter to the soil. The problem was that they weren’t decomposed yet - they were still in fairly wood chippish form.
I have since read that you shouldn’t put fresh wood chips in garden soil, but should let them decompose a bit first.

The spinach that’s growing is tasty and delish, however, and I’ve been using it every chance I get.  My favorite creation this spring is a strawberry spinach salad. I’ve made it a bunch, but sadly, have not ever taken a pic of it. The basic ingredients are spinach, strawberries, feta cheese, sliced hazelnuts (or almonds or cashews or whatever you have on hand) and a simple dressing with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
I’ve varied the greens quite a bit, depending on how much spinach I can pick, and added kale, mint, parsley, red leaf lettuce, salad burnet, a few green onions or anything else that looks tasty and fresh. I’ve taken it to a couple potlucks and served it when we had friends over for lunch and everyone always loves it.


On Mother’s Day, I noticed the spinach was big enough to pick (again) and made a salad with feta cheese, pea shoots, a tomato and a pepper, some roasted pine nuts and a pesto vinaigrette. Pretty tasty, but not quite as good as the spinach/strawberry salad.

Anything that was already planted on Mother’s Day should be doing quite well right now (if it survived the frost last night), after that nice soaking we got and the forecasted sunny days this week. Yay for spring veggies like lettuce, spinach, onions and kale! 


Preparing for tonight’s freeze

By Penny Stine
Monday, May 12, 2014

This spring weather has just been flat-out weird. On May 3, (the Saturday that had lovely spring-like temperatures) I was feeling guilty because I never got around to planting my sorrry-looking tomatoes and tiny peppers I started from seed. I told myself I would do it on Mother’s Day weekend, like I’ve done it for the last 14 years here in the Grand Valley.

Then winter returned to Colorado and my tomatoes got even soggier, since I left them out all night on Saturday night. I dumped most of the water out and put them under the roof overhang so the continuing rain wouldn’t completely wash them away.
I also piled straw around the two plants I got from Bookcliff last weekend in an attempt to keep them from freezing. The rain yesterday will also help, and tonight when I go home from work, I’ll pile even more straw around the plants and make a teepee around the plants with a blanket in hopes that I won’t lose my precious tomatoes.

Since I didn’t want to plant anything on Saturday, I decided to pull a few weeds. I pulled four 5-gallon buckets or weeds/self-seeding flowers out of my garden. I’m glad I did, because all the rain on Sunday would have made them happy and caused them to grow even more.

I also took a survey of the plants I might possibly lose or the fruit that will get damaged tonight in the freeze.  I’ve been trying to grow raspberries for years and have never picked a single berry. I finally figured out that they weren’t getting enough water. Well, they got enough water yesterday. After I cover the tomatoes, I’m going to throw a blanket over the raspberry bushes and my strawberry plants, which are currently loaded with little tiny berries that will get damaged if they freeze.
From what I read, it’s the temperature of the soil that will protect the plants, which is why I piled straw around the tomatoes on Saturday. I will pile it almost to the top of the plants tonight, cover them completely and probably leave them covered until Wednesday morning, since it’s supposed to get down to 32 on Tuesday night, too.  

Any warm weather crop (tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, melons, squash, peppers) should be protected if it's already above ground. Cool weather plants (peas, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, onions) and root crops should be OK, since it probably won't be below 32 for long tonight or tomorrow. 

Most herbs will be OK, but basil will freeze, so cover it up. 


Finally, something sprouted in my carrot patch

By Penny Stine
Friday, May 9, 2014

I know a watched pot never boils (which, technically, is not true) but yet I still go out and check every day to see if the carrots have sprouted.

I know, get a life, right?

Here’s one of 100+ seeds I pre-germinated in paper towels. There is one more about eight inches from this one. There were more, but when we had the evening low of 26 degrees a week or two ago, I think some of them keeled over in shock.

I also discovered that something had ripped a hole in the paper towel (under a layer of dirt), and taken a chunk of soil (birds, rodents?), which enabled me to lift a little corner of the paper towel sandwich to see if I could see any signs of life. There was something still alive, green and growing. So I will keep faithfully watering it.

I scattered some seeds a week after I did the paper towel trick and have been watering those pretty generously too. Can you see the little carrots that have sprouted?



The funny thing is that although I like carrots, it’s not like they’re my favorite thing in the world to eat. There are plenty of other things that grow well that I like just as well. But now that I’ve started on my quest to grow them, I will continue until I succeed.

Give me carrots or give me death.  

Page 8 of 112

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