Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
I always plant spinach sometime in late October or early November. It usually comes up a couple months later in late winter and survives some very cold temperatures. This year, I planted it in a bed that gets a lot of shade in the summertime and sun in the winter thanks to some huge nearby deciduous trees. I also planted garlic around the edges of the bed and there's some sage and columbine in there, too. What can I say? I like variety.
Oops. The spinach is up already.
Normally, it stays at this seedling stage for a month or two, depending on how early it comes up.
Because it was so warm until this last weekend, some of the spinach formed a first leaf. It's a really tiny leaf, but still...
So now I'm in a quandary. I don't want it to die, but I don't really want it to grow too much, either. I'm thinking that maybe I'll just water it with the hose or a watering can on weekends if it's been particularly dry.
Whaddya think? Should I cover it with mulch and hope for the best or leave it uncovered and water occasionally? Last year, I had some over-winter broccoli that came up in the fall (like it was supposed to) but didn't survive the winter. I think it was the lack of water rather than the cold that doomed it.
So maybe I should water the spinach this weekend, cover it with mulch and continue to water once in a while if it doesn't snow. Oh, decisions, decisions. The things we gardeners do for a freshly picked spinach salad.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
I grew a lot of winter squash this year. I'm currently using some as a decoration in my living room.
The big orange one is actually a spaghetti squash. The big green one (that's starting to turn orange) is also a spaghetti squash. I had a plant in a straw bale that was quite prolific.
I also grew quite a few other kinds of squash, which I've stored in the garage on the shelf with all my canned stuff.
Boy, do I need a pantry closet or what?
The other day, I decided to cook one of my spaghetti squashes. So I split it open, scooped out the seeds and baked it.
I roasted the seeds with salt and the tiniest bit of butter. They were delicious. I was quite pleased with the amount of seeds in one squash plant. They were gigantic, too.
I made some Italian-style sauce and we ate half the squash with that. I still had a ton of squash.
So I googled and found something that sounded good. It called for spinach, but I've still got kale in the garden, so I used that.
Then I sauteed the kale in my cast iron frying pan. I should have chopped it into small bits first. Oh well, you live and you learn.
I also put a bit of the cooked spaghetti squash in a muffin pan (that had been not-quite thoroughly sprayed with non-stick stuff). Somewhere along this process, I also fried some bacon. You know it's gonna be good when you add bacon.
Next, I mixed eggs with the cooked chopped bacon, the not-chopped kale (and realized I should have chopped it finer), and some parmesan and blue cheese.
Then I baked them (sorry, can't remember at what temp or for how long) until they looked like this:
This will be a repeater, but next time, I'll chop the kale finer and grease the muffin pan better.
I had more squash than would fit in the muffin pan, so I just put it in a plastic bag in the freezer. If you've got a great recipe for spaghetti squash, please share it with me!
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Since we had a hard freeze that turned my garden into this, I decided it was time to get most of it cleaned up for the season. Cleaning out the old debris and brown, dry stalks is a good deterrent to some diseases and pests. Plus, it makes you feel like you've accomplished something by the time you're done.
Squash bugs overwinter as adults in garden debris, firewood stacks and piles of leaves, so clearing out the dead plants can disrupt their long siesta. Of course, if you simply chop everything in small pieces and then toss it in your compost pile next to the garden (as I did), perhaps you're just inviting the squash bugs to overwinter there instead.
As you can see, I left the broccoli standing, since it has yet to form a head. I haven't given up hope yet. I read that broccoli needs plenty of water to help it form its head, which is somewhat challenging, since our irrigation water is shut off for the season. I'll haul hoses for a couple Saturdays before I give up entirely.
I planned on spreading the compost and working it into the soil, but by the time I had wheelbarrowed it to all the little piles scattered here and there, I was done. It took me the better part of Saturday to pull, chop and haul out the garden's remains. I thought I could work equally hard on Sunday, but I wanted a day off! There's always this weekend.
I also left carrots and beets in the ground. I was going to cover them with straw to protect against a hard winter freeze, but since most nights still aren't dipping lower than 32, I'm leaving them alone for now.
Last fall, I planted garlic in this bed. I thought I dug it all up, but since I can see it sprouting in several places, I guess I missed some.
By Penny Stine
Monday, October 29, 2012
I planted parsnips (I know, parsnips? Seriously? Who eats parsnips?) in July 2011 because a coworker bought the seeds and asked me to grow them for her. I figured if I planted them in July, I'd have a late fall crop that I could dig in December before Christmas.
They never came up. I planted an entire packet of parsnip seeds and not a single one sprouted. Until February or March of this year. Of course, by that time, I had forgotten where I planted them, but I did remember that they were out there somewhere, so I googled parsnips to see what they looked like when they sprouted and didn't accidentally pull them thinking they were weeds. I planted them in various locations around the garden, and had patches of parsnips here and there.
I watched them grow for the entire season, and I wasn't going to dig them until later, since Curtis Swift says parsnips are better if you let them freeze. However, I accidentally pulled the greens of one while I was pulling weeds around it, so I figured I'd better pull it before I forgot where it was.
After I pulled it, I had to pull the rest.
Are these the most awesome, weird-looking veggies just in time for Halloween or what???
I also pulled some carrots and beets and then posed them for a group root crop photo.
I brought most of them to work to give them to Lynn, but I kept a couple. I think there's beef stew in my future.
By Penny Stine
Friday, October 26, 2012
Jan of the awesome garden is also an awesome friend. In anticipation of the frost, she pulled out all of her tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos and everything else that wasn't cold-hardy. She picked the green tomatoes and set them in large containers to ripen in the garage.
Because she has already roasted tons of tiny black cherry tomatoes, she gave me these.
Because she has two other containers this size full of equally large green and ripening tomatoes, she gave me these.
I remembered a cookbook that I got several years ago but hadn't used. I spent an hour reading recipes and bookmarking the ones I wanted to try as the tomatoes ripened. Sadly, many of the recipes were written with the rest of the summer garden in mind, and called for fresh basil, summer squash or chopped parsley, all of which I had in abundance, until it froze.
Maybe if I use the cookbook this fall, I'll remember to give it a look-see next summer.
I suppose I could can a few more tomatoes, but frankly, I don't want to drag out the canning kettle and spend the better part of another Saturday canning tomatoes.