Let's Get Dirty

A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.

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More mailbox garden goodies

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?


The only time I don’t care when someone sells my name

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!


At least I don’t have to water

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. 


Last garlic

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

It was a sad day when I realized I was using the last bit of garlic from my garden.  I was making chili, and I wanted to brown the hamburger with onions and garlic and this was the last of my garlic stash. Considering that I dug the garlic in July and have been using it exclusively for five months, I guess I shouldn't complain that I ran out of garlic before we ran out of winter. 

Garlic from my garden also went into salsa, canned tomatoes and even pickled garlic (which I keep forgetting to use), so I can't complain that spending $15 for garlic bulbs to plant wasn't worthwhile. Especially since you don't just get the bulbs when you grow it in the garden, you also get the lovely scape. 

The garlic I grew was smaller than what I could find at the grocery store or farmers' markets, but I planted it in the semi-shade (since almost my entire garden is in the semi-shade), so again, I wasn't disappointed. 

The interesting thing about growing garlic is that even though you think you've dug up every little bulb that could possibly be in the ground, you miss a few. So when the temperatures are right, it starts growing again. I like to rotate crops around in my garden, and that means that I now have garlic coming up in three places! Wherever it is, it should survive our current cold conditions, and will probably do better, thanks to the moisture. 


Seriously good squash

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This definitely goes on the nice list...  As some may remember, I grew a bunch of winter squash in my garden this year. Rather than cook and freeze them, as I did last year, I've left most of them sitting in my living room as decorative pieces because that's the kind of interior decorator I am. I also moved some out to the garage where it's cooler, in hopes they would last even longer. 

I had this mystery squash that was long and yellow. It might have been a silbey, since my friend, Jan, was sharing silbey seeds the day we planted in our straw bales. I googled silbey because I didn't know what they looked like and discovered that they were also called banana squash.  I didn't think to take a picture of it by itself last night before I started cooking, but once I realized this was gonna be good and I'd want to blog about it, I took a photo of the half I didn't use.



I found this recipe for banana squash that inspired me, although I didn't actually follow it. If you don't have a banana or a silbey squash, try it with another yellow-flesh winter squash. I wouldn't use spaghetti, acorn or hubbard. You want one that's easy to peel before you cook it. 

Peel the squash and cut it into one-inch cubes. Melt a couple tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan and saute the squash until it's tender and starts to brown. Salt and pepper liberally if you like salt and pepper. Not so much if you don't. It should take 5 - 10 minutes. While it's cooking, mix a couple tablespoons of orange juice concentrate with a couple of tablespoons of apricot jam. Add a couple good shakes of ginger and the tiniest smidgeon of habanero paste (or any other hot sauce to give it a tiny tang). When the squash is tender, pour the juice mixture over, stir it in and cook on the stovetop until it's carmelized. (maybe another 5 - 10 minutes)

The recipe said to use cloves rather than ginger. Since my husband hates cloves, I thought ginger would be a complimentary flavor. Kent is not a big fan of winter squash, either, but he said this was pretty good. I think kids would really like it. He also said it would be interesting to see what it would taste like with limeade rather than orange juice, so I may try that with the other half. I'm thinking limeade, a little dark rum, fresh cilantro and a dab of habanero paste. I will keep you posted if it's a hit. 

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