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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Yardwork beckons… Yay!

By Penny Stine
Thursday, March 14, 2013

Do you see this planting bed?


Yes, it's full of leaves from the neighbors' trees that I never raked last fall because I decided they'd make a lovely mulch. It also has dead broccoli stalks that not even the visiting deer would touch this past winter. And it has tulips, daffodils and onions sprouting all over the place. I've been eyeing the weather forecast and keeping my schedule clear so I can spend all day working in my yard and garden on Saturday. I'm more excited than a collie with a frisbee.

I'm going to toss my compost with my favorite pitchfork! I may even go haul a truckload of compost from the landfill. I'm going to rake, pull weeds and dead broccoli stalks, clear pathways and spend the entire day sweating, getting dirtier by the hour and relishing the chance to be outside, playing in the dirt. I'm even going to let my little broccoli seedlings, which I've been tenderly nurturing in the house, sit outside in the shade for a few hours in the afternoon. 

Am I sick and twisted or are there other people out there like me who can hardly wait to head outside with a garden trowel?


What’s up?

By Penny Stine
Monday, March 11, 2013

I did a quick inventory to see what survived the cold winter this past year. Not only did the garlic I planted last fall do just fine, but the garlic I thought I had pulled did well, too.


Look at this bed! I really thought I went through in July last year and pulled every last bulb out. Obviously, I missed a few.  I'm pretty sure I was raking this patch with a salad fork, trying to make sure I cleared it of garlic, because I planted beets and carros here last July. I was hoping for a fall harvest, but they weren't very big, so I just covered them all with straw as a mulch and decided to leave them there all winter.  I'll probably uncover and pull a few this weekend to see how they look.
I've been slowly expanding the number of herbs I grow, and I was pleased to see the burnet and lovage (which I planted sometime in the middle of last summer and which are supposed to be perennials) looking just fine. I sampled them both, and they tasted like dirt, with a faint hint of something else. Not sure how to use either one, but I'll figure out something!

Rosemary is a tender perennial and can grow quite large in places like Texas or Mexico. I bought this one at Bookcliff last summer, and it was supposed to be a hardier type. I can't tell by looking at mine if it's alive or dead. While I'll grant you that it looks pretty dead in this pic, my lavender looks equally lifeless, and I'm sure it's alive. I have been giving the lavender and the rosemary (and everything else that looks alive out in the garden) water all winter.





Same with this kale - it looks kinda dead, but I'm guessing if I cut it back, it may

come back to life, especially on the stalks that still have a little green on them.This is a blue dwarf kale. I also have a red Russian kale patch that looks half-alive, too, so I'll trim both back this weekend in hopes of prompting the kale to come back to life. 






Still not picking the spinach yet, but if this week is as nice as the forecast is promising, maybe I'll harvest the first few baby leaves this weekend just so I can say I did.



Here's another reason not to rototill everything into the garden at the end of the season. This is chamomile, which I use to make tea. There are two kinds of chamomile - the Roman chamomile is supposed to be perennial (and not sweet enough for tea) while the German chamomile is an annual. I'm pretty sure this is German chamomile, and it's obviously not dead. One website said it's a self-sowing annual.  

In our climate, I have become a big believer in year-round gardening. True, I wasn't outside doing much for a good three or four months, but there's no reason not to plant in the fall around here for an early spring harvest.

Oh, and I had to take a picture of this. Yay! Happy spring!  


A shiny green badge to make any gardener proud

By Penny Stine
Friday, March 1, 2013

Look! I picked up my shiny green badge yesterday afternoon! I also picked up my gardening buddy's badge, so now it is official. We are not just master gardeners, we are advanced master gardeners! Now we're equipped with enough knowledge to really kill some plants.
To maintain our voluntary status, we have to do more continuing education as well as volunteer hours with CSU extension.
For anyone who's interested in earning their own shiny green badge, I say go for it. Unlike gardening books and magazines, everything you learn in the program is taught with an understanding of our weird micro-climate here in the Grand Valley.
To be honest, you're inundated with so much knowledge during the apprentice year that it's impossible to take it all in (at least it is if you're also trying to do a full-time job, keep a hubby happy and grow a gigantic garden).
Plus, you get an opportunity to meet like-minded souls, who think it's entirely reasonable to turn your living room into a greenhouse every spring. 


More snow? It must be time to start seeds

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I might be jumping the gun a little bit, but I just can't help myself. Besides, peppers and herbs take forever to grow in my house because we keep the thermostat down so low.
So, yes, I succumbed to temptation and started seeds indoors. They may get too leggy, but I don't care. It was a wonderful thing to do last weekend, when it was too cold to do much else.



I meant to only start peppers, herbs, leeks, celery root and petunias, but I soaked all the plugs that came with my nifty bio-dome from Park Seed and wasn't sure if I could re-soak them again in two weeks when I wanted to plant tomatoes. So I planted tomatoes, too.




In addition to the seedlings in the bio-domes, I have some in a spare room under grow-lights. I'm starting seedlings for a couple friends who don't have southern-facing windows in spare rooms, which is why it looks like I'm entertaining thoughts of starting a greenhouse rather than simply growing a garden.
I'll probably start a few more tomato plants and put them under the grow lights, but I'm going to wait a week or two.
Nothing like the recent snowstorm to make you want to plant something! 


Look! Spring is coming!

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I took this photo when I was coming in the employee door after an interview. I expect these little crocuses will be blooming in a matter of days. Yay!!! Spring is coming!

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