Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Monday, January 24, 2011
We pulled into the driveway on Sunday, Jan. 23, and I glanced over at the garden closest to the driveway. There was something new, green and growing. I got out to investigate and after careful study, I concluded that I had no idea what it was, but it was definitely green and growing, just like in springtime.
If you recognize this plant, tell me what it is. I planted tulips about two feet from where this is coming up, but I know this is not a tulip. I know I planted lettuce somewhere, but didn’t think it was in this particular spot. Maybe the cat moved it.
After concluding that I was clueless, I turned to the bed where I had planted spinach last November.
It’s hard to tell from this picture, but there are little tiny spinach plants poking their first two leaves up all over the place.
Really, they are... but they're so tiny you can hardly see 'em. Trust me... would I lie about something as significant as the first sprout sighting of the season???
Next, I went to check out my garlic.
Wow! I’m not too worried about the garlic; I figure it can fend for itself even if it gets fairly cold. But the spinach? I’ve never had it come up this early before – besides wondering if it’ll freeze if we get a real cold snap, I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to get enough water.
I’ll be happy to drag hoses around the yard if it means my spinach survives the month of February. But I don’t think I’ll be eating spinach salad until at least the end of April.
By Penny Stine
Friday, January 21, 2011
This is garden planning time, and one of the areas that I need help is with building the garden accessories, like the trellis for the pole beans, the planter boxes for sunny spots and a better compost bin. I know, I could order all that stuff, but what’s the point in saving money with a garden if you spend a boatload on buying “stuff” for your garden?
Especially when I’m convinced that my husband could build all that stuff and save us money…
Luckily, during one of my many interviews last summer, we wandered off the subject and started chatting about gardens. I was invited to view my interviewee’s garden, which was truly fab. I also took a photo of the compost bin her husband built, since it looked simple, yet oh-so-effective.
I recently e-mailed the pic to my amazing hubby and asked him if he could build something like it for my new garden area. He said sure. Is he amazing or what?
Of course, he's agreeing to build it in January, when the garden still has snow covering half of it and it's too cold for golf and motorcycles. But I'm confident that if he thinks about it enough now, it'll be a piece of cake once the snow is gone. Maybe the trick is to build it in February, before it warms up enough to play golf or hop on the bike.
By Carol Clark
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Because I have a severe case of SAD (Seedtime Affective Disorder), Olan and I recently spent a Saturday afternoon at "Bob's Garden" with Bob & Darla Beasley. They are in the process of planting 80,000 seeds, - yes, I said 80,000. That includes 9,000 pepper seeds & 20,000 tomato seeds, and a large variety of other vegetables and herbs.
Now that is a BIG garden! Bob & Darla wholesale, participate at farmers markets and have a market at their home at 3334 E 1/4 Road.
You may have met Bob last year in The Daily Sentinel when his tomatoes sold out faster than he could grow them. This year he is expanding his varities of heirloom tomatoes. He says they started out as slow sellers because they are not as pretty as the hybrid varieties. But as soon as customers started buying, they couldn't get enough. A few of this year's varieties are Old German, Abraham Lincoln, Amish Paste and Anna Russian.
Since there are no heirloom tomatoes that are early varieties, the Beasleys have some hybrid tomatoes that will produce early. Bob recommends the Early Goliath Hybrid that takes only 58 days and is up to 1 1/2 pounds when mature.
"There is not an insect problem in the valley," Bob says. One of the secrets to his success is his "no spray" approach to gardening. "Sometimes I get squash bugs and they will attack one plant, leave several other plants alone and attack others down the row." He just plants enough to share with the insects.
A good gardener always plants three seeds -
one for the bugs, one for the weather and one for himself.
- Leo Aikman
Peppers have also been a huge hit. This year he is growing 4,500 hot peppers plants and 4,500 sweet peppers. Customers were also clammering for more eggplant varieties and is planning five different varieties this year.
For two years I have tried starting my plants indoors from seed. Each year they have sprouted and died. Since I have never been able to grow my garden plants indoors from seed I thought Bob could give me a few tips:
1. Soil does matter when it comes to seed growing and you can buy the same kind Bob has as Mt. Garfield Greenhouse. This kind of dirt shortens the days of germination by having all the nutrients the germinating seed needs.
2. If you are planting early, scoop the dirt into four packs which gives the roots plenty of room to grow. Place them on trays and poke holes into the dirt with your finger and insert the seed. Place more dirt into the top of the seed and water.
3. Cover the trays loosly with clear plastic to keep in the moisture. Uncover when the seeds germinate and keep moist.
4. Bob's nursery feels like a warm tropical paradise with lights on 12 hours per day.
Bob's recommended seed catalogues are Rupp, HPS, Jung seeds, and if you love tomatoes, Totally Tomatoes is a must have.
I am hoping Bob won't mind this novice gardener sneaking in to "help" him over the next few months and that I too will be able to successfully grow my vegetables from seed this year.
"A gardener's work is never at an end; it begins with the year and continues to the next."
The Gardener's Almanac"1664
By Carol Clark
Monday, January 17, 2011
For everything there is a season and this is the season for garden planning. I took out all my gardening books, seed catalogs and last years journal and I have begun planning for SPRING - which can't come too soon.
I know... I just don't like winter after Christmas. If we could just do the white Christmas and have spring by Valentines Day, I would be just fine.
MY plan is to EXPAND the garden area and plant a few fruit trees. However, I have not been able to convince my husband of this and he is my only "hired" help. For several years now we have been wanting to buy a small hobby farm. The only problem is we don't want to go deeper into debt.
He wants to wait for the dream to expand the garden. I know it may be awhile before that dream comes true so why not expand now?? So, my plan is to leave the new seed catalogs where he can't miss them. He will pick them up and get excited enough to EXPAND those garden beds!!
I am open to any other suggestions. I'll let you know how it works out.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Now that the holidays are over, the January snow has settled in and we’re fully entrenched in winter, it’s permissible to look at seed catalogs. That’s the official word from Rita Watson, gardener extraordinaire and teller of funny farm tales here at the Daily Sentinel. (Please note, the tales are funny, Rita does not live on a funny farm.)
According to Rita, even though the catalogs start trickling in the mailbox in December, it’s best to simply put them away on a bookshelf somewhere until the holidays are finished and the decorations are stored. Seed catalogs require full and concentrated attention, and it’s hard to give them proper devotion in December, what with all the holiday hubbub and the expectation that someone ought to quit daydreaming about big tomatoes and cook a ham.
So far, I’ve received three catalogs in the mail and one from Rita, who had no interest in that particular seed producer.
Here at the Sentinel, we also received an absolutely gorgeous, coffee-table-book type catalog from Baker Heirloom Seeds, but one of my fellow dirty gardeners, who shall remain nameless, but whose last name rhymes with ark, nabbed the catalog and won’t let me look at it for fear that I’ll drool on all the pretty pictures.
I called the company and requested a seed catalog of my very own. It hasn’t come in the mail yet, but take a look at their website: rareseeds.com
See? Now you want one, too, don’t ya?