Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
My garden has been buried under four inches of snow for a month. When it first snowed, I hoped that the little spinach seedlings that came up so bravely in November (or is that brazenly?) would hang in there for a few days. After it became a few weeks and then over a month with temperatures below freezing, I just assumed that my poor spinach had died.
But when I went to check after the snow melted, look what I found!
In fact, it actually looks like it grew a little bit under all that snow. I probably won't be eating fresh spinach by March, but maybe by April.
Sadly, the broccoli that I left standing isn't looking so good. Deer wandered through my yard at 4 a.m. several weeks ago, but even they weren't interested in the frozen broccoli.
My other cold-hardy crops are a mixed bag. This is kale. I think it lived through at least one previous winter. I don't think it lived through this winter, although if I cut back all the frost-bit stuff, there might be something alive.
This kale, which is only four feet from the frozen plants, looks like it might survive.
Yes, it's extremely tiny, but that's because it was in the shade when the trees had leaves. Perhaps it will thrive in the late winter/early spring before the trees get their leaves.
Regardless, it's kind of cool to see the effects of the freezing weather on some of the garden plants. And pretty amazing to see that spinach. It's a strain called Winter Giant from Territorial Seed. So far, it's living up to its name.
By Penny Stine
Monday, January 21, 2013
I've been trying to think of a reason to appreciate or enjoy the cover of cold that's sitting on the Grand Valley. I thought I had it when I started thinking about squash bugs, which overwinter as adults.
I figured there were probably some squash bugs calling my compost bins bed and I hoped that our month-long deep freeze was killing them. In fact, I mentioned that hope to other people in my attempt to be a little ray of sunshine instead of my cold, whiny self.
Then I thought I should check with the authorities. Or the authority, as is the case. I e-mailed Bob Hammon, the CSU extension agent who is also the bug guy. Sadly, Bob assured me that those little buggers are extremely cold-hardy and are probably burrowed down deep, biding their time and waiting to come out.
Curses! I've given up being a little ray of sunshine.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
I love the mail in January, when all the seed companies are sending out catalogs and other goodies. This came to me at work yesterday.
It's possible to find Renee's Garden seeds at local retailers. I don't know about the big box stores, but I've purchased them at Bookcliff Gardens. Renee's Gardens has some unique seeds that are difficult to find elsewhere, although they stick the yellow doll watermelon in a mix that includes a pink and an orange variety that I don't want to grow.
The sample pack included in this media kit is for an heirloom stirfry blend that includes mizspoona mustard/mizuna, wild garden kales, majima and great wave wild mustards. I know nothing about these specific types, but judging from the other kales and mustards I've grown, I'm assuming they're all cold-loving plants, so as soon as the snow is gone from my garden, those seeds are going in.
The big announcement that was part of this media kit was that Renee's Garden seeds now carry organic seeds. For me, that's not a deal-breaker one way or the other. Although I don't spray much, when I saw the squash bugs swarming over my pattypan plant last summer, I was happy I had insecticide in my garage that would do the trick. It wasn't organic, but I didn't lose my squash plant.
Whaddya think? Is organic important to you or not? Would you be influenced to buy or not buy a certain seed because it wasn't certified organic?
By Penny Stine
Friday, January 4, 2013
Look what I've received in my mailbox:
I ordered from four different seed catalogs in 2012, so I hoped that I would be on their respective mailing lists for their 2013 seed catalogs. One of those seed companies must have shared or sold their mailing address list to other seed companies, since I got catalogs from three additional companies. Normally, that annoys me, but since it has resulted in more seed catalogs for me to daydream over during the cold, dark, cruel and extremely long month of January, I'm OK with it.
I wish I could resist them all and only order from one seed catalog to cut down on shipping, but sadly, I've found at least one item from every catalog that seems to be exclusive to that particular company. The Vermont Bean Seed Company has yellow doll watermelon, which I haven't been able to find anywhere, while Totally Tomatoes has the pink Caspian tomato (which Dixie Burmeister said was unbelievable) and Baker Creek has the poona kheera cucumber, which I'm hoping will become my new favorite cucumber and Park Seed also sells these great bio-domes that are great for starting seeds that like warmer temperatures to germinate. I bought one last year but would like to add another to my arsenal.
Of course, it goes without saying that my 2013 garden will be the best one ever - they always are in January!
By Penny Stine
Thursday, December 27, 2012
As anyone who reads this blog knows, my overwinter spinach and garlic, which weren't supposed to come up until late January or early February, came up a few weeks after I planted them in November. I had been dragging a hose around once a week to water the little seedlings before winter finally came.
I think this means I don't have to drag a hose, at least not this weekend.
It will be interesting to see what survives. I'm sure garlic and onions will be fine. Not so sure about the mustard that re-seeded itself and was looking so happy or the spinach, which is called winter giant. With a name like that, I'm thinking there's a good chance it won't mind a covering of snow.
It probably wouldn't mind at all if I had bothered to mulch, but I didn't. Oh well.... survival of the fittest in my garden.
I think it's safe to say that the broccoli I left in this garden won't be forming any heads. At least the compost is getting wet. I'm guessing there's not much decomposition going on in either side of this bin, and I doubt if the temperature in the middle of the pile is any warmer than the air temperature, but it was a good place to put the fall leaves.