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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Starting the seedlings

By Penny Stine
Monday, March 7, 2016

I took a look at the calendar and realized I had to get busy with seeds. My gardening pal, Jan, is coming over on Saturday and we’re going to get the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant started, but after seeing nice-sized broccoli plants for sale at Bookcliff Gardens on Saturday, I realized we were way behind on the cold-tolerant stuff.
We probably could have started most of this stuff directly outdoors, but since I won’t have any way to water (except by dragging around a hose or watering can) until April, I decided to go ahead and start them inside.
We are growing kalettes this year, which are a new cross between brussels sprouts and kale, and the catalog recommended starting those inside. One year, I noticed that the swiss chard I started inside did better than the swiss chard I direct-sowed, so I started those, along with the Portuguese kale, and a broccoli variety called di cicco. The di cicco is an Italian variety (surprise, right?) that forms one small-to-medium head and then it’s supposed to continue to produce smaller side shoots and heads until the first frost. It’s also supposed to be a good one to freeze.
Who could resist all that? Of course, I had to try it.
I started those in one of my Park Seed bio-domes, which are so very handy for certain veggies.
I also wanted to start leeks and onions, which can’t be started in the bio-dome, since the sponges get in the way of the forming bulbs and roots. We bought redwing onion seeds, which came with a recommendation to start indoors six to eight weeks before transplanting. It’s a red onion that’s supposed to keep all winter long.
We probably should have started all of these about a week or two ago, but we didn’t, so I started them over the weekend. I hope to be able to plant them all outside by mid-April, once the irrigation water is in and we’ve discovered and fixed all the problems.
Yes, there are always problems.
In the meantime, yay for the start of the 2016 garden season!


Lettuce consider allowing plants to go to seed

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I often let things go to seed in my garden. I do it partly because I’m not a neat and tidy gardener and partly because I like it when they reseed the following year.
Take this lettuce - I planted it here last year, and it did OK, but it went to seed in a pretty spectacular way, so now I’ve got at least a dozen little heads of lettuce coming up in my front flower bed. It came up in February and it’s in a very sunny bed. I’m probably going to have to water it with once or twice a week in March, but since this bed is two feet from my hose bib, I’m not too worried about needing to water it.
I had, however, decided not to even try growing lettuce this year, since mine usually doesn’t taste all that great. Perhaps this spring conditions will be right to have fabulous lettuce. Perhaps because it came up when conditions warranted rather than after I planted and pleaded it will taste better and I’ll decide to let it go to seed again for next year! 


Do you see what I see?

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Do you see this?
My spinach is not only up, but it’s forming true leaves, not just the first two little leaves that look like blades of grass.

This is in a bed that gets some nice winter sunshine, which means I’ll probably have to water it once a week or more, but I can carry a watering can if it means I’ll be picking spinach soon. And by soon, I mean April, which is only a month and a week away!!! Woo-hoo!

The garlic is looking nice, too.  


First flower of pre-spring

By Penny Stine
Monday, February 15, 2016

I love crocuses because they bloom so early. When you're not a fan of winter, flowers showing up, growing in your flower bed on Valentine's Day are a pretty cool and welcome sight.  


Ordering seeds

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My gardening buddy, Jan, and I got together on Saturday morning to figure out our seed order. We usually refer to it as our garden porn session, although a neighbor of mine referred to it as horti-porn. I’m not sure which I prefer… both are fairly accurate.
I probably received almost 20 seed catalogs in the mail. I got duplicates from some companies, but I heard from plenty of companies from which I’d never ordered seeds.
My goal was to order from only three different catalogs. Of course, my goal was also to order seeds that I really wanted to grow, and when you find some weird little variety that only one catalog has, it makes it difficult to stick with just three catalogs.
We ended up ordering from four catalogs because Tomato Growers was the only one that had the Black from Tula variety, Johnny’s had De Cicco broccoli, Redwing onions, Cylindra beets, Autumn Star kalettes and Adirondack Blue potatoes, Park Seed had Tenderstar green beans, Enterprise summer squash and sponges for our bio-domes, and finally, Burpee had this awesome pea called Peagoda, as well as the Bodacious honeydew and Collective Farm Woman melons. How could we not order all of those cool, unique seeds?
We also ordered several seeds that weren’t so unique, which put our total up to about $246. But since we’re splitting it in two, that puts at it at merely $123 per person, which isn’t bad, considering all the food I get out of my garden, as well as all the happy hours I spend playing in the dirt.
It’s cheaper than both therapy and organic produce from the store, so it’s $123 well-spent.  

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