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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Yes, I know we're all deliriously happy that the mountains are receiving boatloads of snow.
Yes, my garden appreciates the moisture.
No, the blossoms on my poor little peach tree may not survive, in spite of its ghostly shroud.
By Penny Stine
Monday, April 15, 2013
OK, technically, my new Vitamix is not a garden tool. It will live on my kitchen counter, not in my garden or my garage. I will, however, use it to blend all my garden produce into lovely breakfast smoothies.
I wrote about the juicing craze that people have been using to boost their nutritional intake and/or lose weight a month or so ago, and that inspired my husband and me to start making breakfast smoothies with my old blender, which cost $5 at Goodwill and didn't really work well when it came to carrots or apples.
So I started doing some research and decided to buy a Vitamix. I bought a factory-reconditioned one from Vitamix, which came with a 5-year warranty. It was outrageously expensive, but I have been frugal about everything my entire life and decided to splurge.
The Vitamix came last week, on the day I went home early because I was getting sick. The next day, my throat was so sore and swollen it hurt to swallow.
I used my new blender four times in one day. It is the coolest kitchen appliance ever.
I took pics of one of my concoctions - I was filling it full of fruits that had mega-doses of Vitamin C in hopes that my cold would go away.
It didn't work, but I had fun playing with my new toy.
The Vitamix came with a cookbook that had a bunch of recipes for blending raw foods - lots of smoothie and cocktail recipes for all the weird things I like to grow, like tomatillos and mint.
So far, I've had enough spinach from my garden to make exactly two green smoothies, but I'm hoping that soon, I'll be able to quit buying spinach and kale from Sprouts.
Oh, and did I mention one of the best things about a Vitamix? The blades are attached to the bottom of the pitcher, so when it's time to clean it, you simply fill it half full of warm water, add a drop of soap and run it on high for 30 seconds. It cleans itself.
Now, that is my kind of kitchen appliance!
By Penny Stine
Friday, April 5, 2013
As the person whose name is the contact for this blog, I get all kinds of e-mails from people and companies who would like us to feature their products or services on our blog. Usually, I ignore them, as I'm more interested in posting pictures of tiny tomatoes than plugging someone's pest control solutions.
I got something the other day, however, from somebody trying to sell something and here is a sample of their e-mail: "Spring is here! And so begins another year of planning and planting. For others, it means self-picking of peaches in June, strawberries in July, and apples in September on farms across the country. "
Seriously, has this person ever grown peaches, strawberries or apples? Maybe somewhere else, but probably not here. Although local orchards are getting earlier and earlier varieties of peaches, I don't think anyone has a variety that's ready to pick by June. And I don't know about you, but the strawberries in my yard are usually done by July - even the Glenwood Springs Strawberry Days are held in June.
As for apples, although some might be ready by September, some of the best local apples aren't available until October.
That's why it's important to go to local sources for gardening advice and plants. Don't buy plants that won't like our soils, our weather and our growing zone because you'll just be disappointed that you can't grow blueberries like the ones you had in Michigan.
Ask the professionals at the local nurseries, not the big box stores or even online sites and blogs (yes, I get the irony... THIS is a blog!). So if you do read a lot of blogs, pay attention to where the blogger lives - if a blogger writes how easy it is to grow lettuce in Colorado, but she lives at 9,000 feet, understand that your experience won't be the same.
Most of the local pros at local nurseries are in the business because they're passionate and knowledgeable about gardening and horticulture, not because the paint department was slow and they had to help out in the garden area.
And if you hate to ask when you're not planning on buying anything, you can always call the master gardening desk at the CSU extension office! The number for Mesa County is 244-1836.
Joan Clark, pictured above, has been a master gardener for seven years. She moved here from the Front Range several years ago and discovered that what she knew about gardening in the Front Range didn't necessarily apply to our weird micro-climate and challenges, so she took a lot of the master gardening classes over again.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, April 4, 2013
I used a biodome for peppers and tomatoes this year (and herbs, leeks and celery root) and discovered that starting leeks in a dome is a silly idea. Leeks shoot up like a green onion and quickly outgrow the dome.
Although most of the tomatoes germinated pretty well in the dome, they too outgrew it and had to be transplanted. So now I have peppers and celery root (and a couple tomato plants that were puny) still in the dome, where they will remain until it's time to plant them outside.
I replanted all of the tomatoes in individual pots and stuck them under the grow light. I think they're pretty happy. Now the trick will be keeping them happy and growing inside for another month until it's safe to plant them outside.
I want happy plants that will be well-adjusted so they can get serious about producing early tomatoes! Is that too much to ask?
Yes, I know... I could probably buy happy well-adjust plants from a local nursery, but what would I have to do in early spring without my obsession?
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
The warm temperatures may be luring you out and tempting you to plant, but resist the temptation to plant some fruits and veggies early. I have learned the hard way that not only will a spring frost kill the tender young seedlings, some seeds just don't like it when you stick them in the cold hard ground.
I found this great website full of helpful information, including a chart that shows optimal soil temperature not only for germination rates, but also for the best production. It may save tears later when you wait impatiently for the watermelon that never comes up.
This year, I'm practicing patience and I will not plant green beans until almost June.
I did plant peas and kale over this last weekend, because I know they like it cold and I had to go plant something.