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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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. 


December harvest

By Penny Stine
Monday, December 10, 2012

Because it's been so warm, this has been a great year to experiment with four-season gardening. Last month, I mulched all the carrots and beets that were still in the ground. Even though I still had a couple carrots in the fridge, my curiosity got the best of me last week, so I had to pull a few to see what they looked liked.



I also decided it was time to pull my last parsnips, which have been in the ground for more than a year now. Since the ground was hard and dry, it was a lot harder than I expected. I suspect their odd shape, with various rootlings and knobs also contributed to the difficulty. Since the carrots and beets were so tiny, I had no problem pulling them. 





After a good washing, I decided the parsnips were still odd and the carrots were still tiny. The beets are pretty, though.










Since snow and colder temperatures were in the forecast, I decided it was time to pull the plug on this, which is either Romanesca broccoli or veronica cauliflower (which I think is more or less the same thing.) I planted both last spring. It never did form a head during irrigation season, so I left it in place. I think if I had watered it more, the head might have gotten a little bigger.


So now I had a collection of odd roots and a tiny head of something. I ended up roasting them all in the oven, and was pretty pleased with the results. I kept the carrots and parsnips separate, mixed with a bit of honey, olive oil and chopped thyme. I peeled the beets, chunked the tiny head of whatever it was into bite-sized pieces, added a couple of small potatoes and some rosemary and roasted them all at 350 for 25 minutes or so.
I would have taken a picture, but I forgot. Sorry.  

Parsnips and beets have been surprise hit in my garden, because I discovered that I actually like them. My husband does, too, so they're going back in the garden in 2013. 


It’s here!

By {screen_name}
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. Dreams of presents in the mailbox and... magic. I open the mailbox Saturday afternoon and what to my wondering eyes should appear?







The 2013 Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Book!










Filled with the GOOD,






























... and the EXOTIC




The sight makes your heart swell more than any handmade gift or Hallmark Christmas special.
While it's hardly been chilly here, we can dream of warm spring days ahead, digging hands into sweet smelling earth, planting rare heirloom seeds, watching them grow into the miracle of life in our own backyard.
Heart, soul and passion goes into an amazing book of summer dreams. All for you to snuggle on your couch in your wool blanket and read from cover to cover.
Order your taste of summer or browse online at www.rareseeds.com.

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