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
Thursday, June 14, 2012
I know Carol doesn't believe in voodoo or my ability to speak and have it be so. Nonetheless, she blamed me (in print, no less!) for causing bugs to infect her beautiful tomato plants with what she suspects is curly leaf virus.
In that same spirit, I think I'll blame Carol for my poor, dead tomato plant.
One day, it looked like this:
The very next day, it looked like this.
On closer examination, I noticed the main stem looked like it had been chewed. I suspect Carol has been raising an army of trained, mutant, miniature beavers for nefarious reasons too dreadful to contemplate. She brought one to my house in the middle of the night and set it loose to gnaw on a tomato plant.
A tall tale? An unlikely story? Who knows what hidden desires lie behind Carol's always pleasant demeanor and smiling face?
By Carol Clark
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Well, Penny went and did it. My tomatoes that I carefully grew from seed, the ones that I protected from cold and sun by bringing them in and out of the house for weeks, looked beautiful and robust and stately just last week, and then, Penny said the words... "curly top virus."
She penned the blog last week about the Bug Be Gone miracle worker. I thought.."I'll do that this weekend."
By Thursday the tops of my tomatoes looked like they were just a little thirsty. After watering Thursday evening, the leaves were still curly. Still in denial, I bought the Bug Be Gone on Saturday and applied it to the tomatoes Sunday... still curling.
I may have killed the bug but the virus seems to live on in my gorgeous, well-loved tomato plants.
I decided I will remain in denial until the plants actually die. Hopefully all eighteen will feel my positive vibes and positive thinking will prevail.
"A strong positive attitude will create
more miracles than any wonder drug."
Jimmy Patricia Neal
By Penny Stine
Friday, June 8, 2012
When it comes to gardening, I need to remember to listen to my mother. Her dad grew a huge garden when she was a kid growing up in Michigan. As an adult, she's grown gardens in Wyoming, Alaska, Oklahoma and Nebraska. She knows more about gardening than half the experts who are writing blogs, books and advice.
She grows food that she likes to eat, so when she discovered Anasazi beans from the Dove Creek area, she decided to plant a few and see if they'd grow in Nebraska. She didn't bother ordering seeds from a catalog, instead, she bought a bag of beans intended for cooking from Alida's when she was visiting and planted those in hopes they'd produce. They did, and she had a boatload of dried beans last winter that she'd grown herself last summer.
This year, my friend, Jan, and I decided to try and grow a bean that was meant to be dried. We ordered a cowpea from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds called a Red Bisbee. It was supposed to come from Bisbee, Arizona and thrive in the heat.
We ordered a packet of seeds for $2.50. There were maybe 30 seeds in it, which we split between the two of us. Although most (not all) of mine germinated, the bugs decimated most of them. I have five plants left - they're the bigger plants in the row on the right in the trellis.
Those are some expensive beans.
I have this great trellis just waiting for beans. I finally remembered what my mom did, so I went to Alida's for beans, where I bought an entire pound of Anasazi beans for $2.50. I re-planted my trellis area, where I had enough seeds for double rows on either side of my planting box, plus a few in the center. I gave some to Jan (whose red Bisbee cowpeas were also not performing) and cooked the rest for dinner.
So far, they're germinating just fine, but I'm feeling stupid for not listening to my mom. When it comes to gardening, Mom always knows best.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
I only lost one tomato plant last year to curly top virus, but I know Carol, one of our fellow dirty gardeners, lost most of hers. In the past, gardeners have been told there's nothing much to do, other than physically covering plants with a row cover this time of year to prevent the beet leaf hopper from landing on them and infecting them.
When I was at the extension office on Monday, Bob Hammon was telling a group of gardeners about a fairly new insecticide that's supposed to prevent curly top virus. It's Ortho Bug-be-Gone systemic, with acetamiprid as the active ingredient.
I haven't used many insecticides in my garden, because I never wanted to start spraying without knowing what I was doing. I feel a little more confident (plus, I'm tired of seeing the bugs win!) after taking the Master Gardener class and chatting with experts about how and when to apply.
Conditions have been perfect for that stinkin' beet leaf hopper to fly, plus I'm already seeing what leaf miners are doing to my spinach and my beet tops. I'm sure they'll find the Swiss chard soon. The insecticide is supposed to work against all those piercing sucking types that ruin spinach, beet greens, Swiss chard - AND cause curly top virus.
I found some spray at True Value on North and am planning on using it this weekend.
Bob said one spray now and another spray in 10 days should be all you need. Sounds good to me.
By Penny Stine
Monday, June 4, 2012
Anyone who reads this blog knows that I love growing unusual plants. Sometimes, I buy vegetable seeds just to see what the plant looks like or discover how well it will grow in our climate, even if I've never eaten the vegetable and don't know if I'll like it. That's how I discovered kale, tomatillos and pattypan squash, which are now favorite garden staples.
This year, I'm trying several new additions and this is one of them. If this looks like a radish plant gone to seed in my onion patch, that's because that's what it is. It's called rat's tail radish, and unlike traditional radishes, you don't pull up the plant to eat the root in early spring.
This plant is supposed to grow and produce all season, even in the heat. It flowers, goes to seed and produces a seed pod, which looks like a rat's tail. Or a green bean, take your pick. Just don't bite into one expecting green bean flavor. It's pure radish - hot, spicy and quite tasty.
I don't know why they aren't more popular for home gardens, but it's probably going to become another garden staple for me.