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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Another straw bale gardener

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Here's a note from fellow Sentinel gardener, Beckie Giles:

We are trying a small hay bale garden this year to see how it does in our area. It started as my project and my husband has now taken over, which is good because he is meticulous with instruction so if we have any trouble we will know he followed the instructions to the letter and know what to adjust next year.


And here's a lovely garden quote sent by another Sentinel gardener, Darralee Matthews, which seems particularly pertinent, since several of us are experimenting with straw bale gardening and we have no idea whether or not it will work in our climate. 

"A Garden is always a series of losses set against a few triumphs, like life itself."

May Sarton


Home is where your mom is

By Carol Clark
Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Nothing says home more than the word "mom" and her special day is coming up this Sunday. Make sure to brighten her world with some spring flowers, but don't get half dead cut roses from the grocery store. Make her something unusual, something that keeps saying I love you all summer long.
I've gathered a few container garden photos fromPinterest. You don't have to have a big budget to get her something unusual. A container garden can be started from old junk you already have in your yard, garage or closet.


How about raiding mom's kitchen to find the perfect container? Just make sure it's not something sentimental she is saving from her mother.












Confessions of a Curb Shopahollic has something to say for our curb cleanup program.







Antique milk containers make a beautiful picture of spilt milk from suprbo.com.











Don't throw away those old boots!  












Even junky cars can be turned into a work of art!
Have fun and use your imagination. Remember, mom knows the most special gifts were the ones you made for her.


Want onions?

By Penny Stine
Monday, May 7, 2012

I know I blogged about these last year, but they're just so cool I had to take pics again this year & post them. These are my walking onions, AKA perpetual onions, because they grow little bulbs out of the top (eventually, after they quit sending more green tops out) and plant more onions all around. 

I didn't harvest many last year because I wanted to give them a couple years to get established and plant lots of other onions. I think I can harvest a lot this year, since I took some of the bulbs and got a second onion patch established.

I say I garden because I like to eat and because it saves money, but really, sometimes I think it's for the sheer joy of planting something and watching it grow. Kind of like having kids, except plants can't talk back or roll their eyes at you. Plus, you don't have to worry about sending them to college!


I haven’t killed them yet!

By Penny Stine
Friday, May 4, 2012

Even though I finished the classroom portion of the Master Gardener program at CSU and am now doing the mandatory volunteer hours (so I'm supposed to know something), it still thrills to no end me every time a seed actually sprouts or I see plants growing just like they're supposed to in my garden. 

Or, in the case of these tomato, pepper and eggplant seedlings, on my deck. In the sunshine. I've been transitioning them to life outside all week. They've been in a shady area that gets early morning sun for about 45 minutes and diluted afternoon late afternoon sun for an hour or so. Today, I moved them out to a sunny spot on the deck before I left for work.

I ran home at lunch to check on them and make sure they weren't cooking. I was so happy to see them green and upright that I had to take a picture. I also moved them back into the shade, since I can't check on them periodically to make sure they don't get too scorched. 

As you can see, a few of the tomato plants got a little sun-bleached. The first year I started tomato plants from seed, I killed more than half of them by putting them in direct sun on their first day outside.

Tomorrow and Sunday these plants are getting even more sun.  

I can almost taste that first tomato...


New pesto recipes

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Earlier this year, I included a recipe for mint pesto in our Spring Home and Garden section, which was published on April 8. It used both parsley and mint. I made the mistake of introducing both of them to a flower bed, and now it's a minty parsley bed.
When it comes to plants that want to take over the world, if you can't beat 'em, then you should try and eat 'em.
So I was happy when I saw the mint was big enough to start picking in this flower bed. I've also got it in two other beds, but it's not as big yet.  


I didn't want to go back and actually read the recipe (because I usually don't follow them anyway), so I made it up as I went along, adding the green tops of some garlic and what I later decided was too much parsley, as well as other ingredients listed below.






Once I had the pesto, I decided to make a pasta salad with the pesto as a dressing. I saw a recipe that called for orzo, mint pesto, feta cheese and ground lamb. Ground lamb was $7.99/lb at Safeway; chicken breasts were $1.99. I substituted grilled chicken breast, which I covered with pesto prior to grilling. I took the photo while the chicken was still grilling, so you'll have to use your imagination. 

The pasta salad was good, but because I used as much parsley as mint, it was almost too parsley-flavored for my taste buds. I decided to try making pesto out of just the mint. I changed up the recipe, substituting roasted, salted pumpkin seeds for the almonds.

For the ultimate taste test, I brought it to the Sentinel and made people taste both and vote on their fave. To my surprise, the results were fairly even. Eight people preferred the mint and parsley version while nine preferred the mint only version. I'm sure other people sampled and didn't vote, since I brought in two sleeves of Ritz crackers and they were gone before noon.

My hubby and I liked both, which thrilled me to no end. If you've got mint or parsley overtaking your herb or flower beds, try one of these recipes:
(Bear in mind that I never really measure anything, so everything is an approximation - add more or less to your taste.)


Spring mint pesto

3 - 4 cups mint leaves
1/2 C olive oil (could be more or less)
juice and zest of half a lemon
1/4 to 1/2 C roasted, salted pumpkin seeds
1/2 C feta cheese
1/2 to 1 tsp red pepper flakes
4 cloves garlic


Mint and parsley pesto

3 C mint leaves
3 C parsley
5 or 6 green tops of garlic (can also substitute garlic cloves, which will make it stronger)
1/2 C olive oil
juice and zest of half a lemon
1/2 C feta cheese
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/2 C almonds


Some people thought the mint and parsley pesto was bland, others felt like it had more flavor. Try them both and see which one you like.  

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