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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What’s growing in January?

By Penny Stine
Monday, January 11, 2016

While snow is still covering most of my garden, at least the mounds of snow aren’t (for the moment) growing. In fact, they’re starting to melt. So yesterday afternoon, when I was tired of feeling like a prisoner in my house, I decided to walk out to my garden areas and see if the spinach or garlic was up.
The spinach was still buried under the snow in all the places that I remember planting it. It may have sprouted, but I wasn’t going to dig under the snow in search of it.
The elephant garlic, however, is up in one area! Woo-hoo!
I try to change where I plant garlic every year and don’t remember where else I might have planted it, but I’m sure it will sprout as soon as the snow melts.
Yay, spring is coming! There may be Grand Junction folks who love the winter, but for me, I just try to endure and overcome in the wintertime. January lasts longer than June, July and August combined…. 

1 comments

Tomatillo fix: Neutralizing the acidity

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I made some posole in the crockpot on Sunday, and I used a large pork roast and some frozen tomatoes and tomatillos from my garden. Although it was good, it was a little too meaty and not very soupy. I had tons left, so I froze half of it and decided to make the other half soupier by adding a home-canned jar of tomatillo sauce. 

After dumping in an entire quart, I stirred and let it cook for a bit before tasting. Then discovered that it was so tart and tomatillo-ey, that I knew my darling hubby wouldn't like it. I mean, I didn't really like it. So I frantically googled to see what I could do. If I had a stronger background in chemistry, this solution might have come to me, but since I have a strong background in conjugating verbs, it did not. I read a kitchen fix that said to add baking soda, so I tried it, one teaspoon at a time. It bubbled up when I first added it, but after stirring it in thoroughly, I gave it a try. It was amazing what a difference it made. Still tart, so I cautiously added more baking soda until it lost that acidic bite that can make tomatillos so unappealing. I think I ended up adding about 3 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda to my stew. 

Of course, I forgot to take a photo. Trust me, it was good, although truth be told, it wasn't that appealing to look at... 

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These catalogs feed my addiction

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I have to confess… I’ve started drooling over garden porn again. I can’t help it! The catalogs come right to my mailbox with big, beautiful, glossy photos of beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, melons and more.

It’s been just long enough to forget all this past season’s failures and get me excited about growing an even better garden this year. I can’t help but look through the catalogs and get excited about plants I’ve never heard of or ones that I know won’t do well in my garden.

I order from Park Seed every year, and since I'm a reliable customer, they'll probably send me another three catalogs. I've ordered from the Vermont Bean Seed Company, but have never ordered from Johnny's Selected Seeds. I've got my eye out for a tomato variety called Black from Tula. So far, none of the catalogs I've received carries it. 


Because I ordered seeds from at least three different catalogs last year, I’ll probably another dozen in the mail. I'm sure one of them will have Black from Tula tomatoes. I’ve given these three a quick glance through, but I’m making myself wait for the long, endless days in January to really get serious about reading them and selecting seeds for 2016.  

1 comments

Using the last of the fresh garden tomatoes

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Like almost every other gardener out there, I picked green tomatoes a month or so ago and gave them space to ripen. Some people put them in a cardboard box, others in a brown paper sack, I simply left mine in a couple of baskets and bowls on the counter. I think I had three or four bowls/baskets full of tomatoes a month ago.
I’ve been slowly using them and had five or six red ones and two small yellow ones left yesterday. I’ve also got a couple of green tomatoes in the fridge that I deliberately put there so they would retain their green, unripe and tart flavor to use in a lentil and rice dish. As I wrote the headline for this, I realized what an oxymoron it is... can you call them fresh garden tomatoes when you picked them more than a month ago? 

Although the red ones on the counter looked pretty, they tasted like grocery store tomatoes and not garden tomatoes, so I decided to use them in something cooked, where it wouldn’t make as much difference. Same with the yellow ones.


I also had some kaniwa, which is predicted to be the next superfood, but which I bought at Sprouts mostly because I was curious and it was on sale. I decided to make a hot kaniwa dish with red tomatoes and Swiss chard (which I picked right before Thanksgiving). As I was cooking, I decided to add some amaranth seeds, and then I thought a little corn meal wouldn’t hurt. I also added some cream cheese and grated parmesan, to make a creamy polenta-type dish. The kaniwa are the little brownish specks in the photo. 


My hubby thought it didn’t look particularly good, but admitted it tasted pretty good. (Then again, we’re from the tribe that thinks shoe leather with enough cheese would probably be good.)


For the shrimp portion of our dinner, I sautéed onions, garlic and the yellow tomatoes, then added some shrimp, fresh rosemary and a bit of fresh lemon juice. We ended up eating the shrimp on top of my ancient grains polenta (doesn’t that sound more appetizing than polenta with weird seeds?).
It was all quite tasty and probably incredibly nutritious, since both amaranth and kaniwa are supposed to be some of those nutrient-dense foods. Plus, it was a way to use up the last of my red tomatoes. I’m making the rice and lentil dish tonight.  

6 comments

The last harvest (really, I mean it this time)

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I know I said it was the last harvest a couple of weeks ago, and it was the last harvest of warm weather crops. I left a few things out there in the garden and decided that it was time to pick the remainder last weekend.
Not a bad haul in my book. I mean, it’s almost the end of November, and I got a bowlful of Swiss Chard, a few carrots, some small purple kohlrabi, a few leeks and a whole bunch of kale.
I should have frozen some of it, but I just rinsed it and put it in plastic bags in the fridge.
Now there’s nothing left to do but look for seed catalogs coming in the mail.  

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Page 9 of 146




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