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, June 19, 2012
I love perennials because you don't have to plant them every year. I didn't know until I took the Master Gardener class that you're supposed to divide your perennials every three or four years. (Some gardener I am!)
I've got various perennials growing in my yard and have never divided any of them. Perhaps that's why they seem to go in decline every few years and then perk back up a year or so later.
I started a bunch of different types of perennials from seed three years ago and this year they are truly gorgeous, so I thought I'd share.
Gaillardia, or blanket flower, is a fairly common flower around here. It's drought tolerant and does well in the heat. It also blooms all summer long, especially if you remember to deadhead. It does well in sunny locations, although it blooms in partial shade, too.
This is Canterbury bells, a variety of Campanula or bellflower. It's supposed to be a biennial, meaning it takes two years to complete its life cycle. It didn't bloom the first year I grew it, but looked beautiful last year. I was afraid it wouldn't bloom this year (since it's a biennial), but here it is, blooming away and looking fab. Obviously, in spite of the master gardening class, I don't have a handle on the meaning of the whole biennial thing.
It does really well in shady areas.
You can find blanket flower at lots of different nurseries. I don't know that I've ever seen Canterbury bells for sale anywhere. I bought seeds from Park Seed, and the plant grew well from seed.
By Penny Stine
Friday, June 15, 2012
Great Book for Container Gardens!
The book title ‘Fruit & Vegetables In Pots’ by Jo Whittingham caught my attention so I just had to pick it up and take a look. To my pleasant surprise, this book is simple, straight-forward & uses items that most weekend gardeners already have. It also gives you great ideas for creating a visually beautiful garden in small areas using their “recipes” for planting vegetables & flowers together. There are lots of photos & easy instructions to follow. They even dedicate several chapters to the care of your garden as well as dealing with pests, diseases & disorders. Again there are lots of photos showing sick plants & what to do to fix the problem. I am all about visual aids.
I was particularly intrigued with the idea of using a large trash can to plant a small crop of potatoes.So my husband & I decided to give it a try.
As you can see, thepotato seed starts are growing after only a week or so. The thought of boiled new potatoes and peas makes my taste buds & stomach very happy.
Using an extra trash can for this project inspired me to repurpose a 3-basket hanger that used to hang in my kitchen. I no longer wanted it there but I didn’t know what to do with it. We went to our local greenhouse & bought some coco liner by the sq foot. We cut it into strips of the appropriate size for each basket, filled each one with potting soil & planted hanging strawberries. As you can see it doesn’t take up much space & it is very pretty to look at. Only time will tell if our hard work & ingenuity along with tips from this book will give us the harvest we are hoping for. Three words come to mind after checking this book out - easy, easy, easy!
By Penny Stine
Thursday, June 14, 2012
I know Carol doesn't believe in voodoo or my ability to speak and have it be so. Nonetheless, she blamed me (in print, no less!) for causing bugs to infect her beautiful tomato plants with what she suspects is curly leaf virus.
In that same spirit, I think I'll blame Carol for my poor, dead tomato plant.
One day, it looked like this:
The very next day, it looked like this.
On closer examination, I noticed the main stem looked like it had been chewed. I suspect Carol has been raising an army of trained, mutant, miniature beavers for nefarious reasons too dreadful to contemplate. She brought one to my house in the middle of the night and set it loose to gnaw on a tomato plant.
A tall tale? An unlikely story? Who knows what hidden desires lie behind Carol's always pleasant demeanor and smiling face?
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Well, Penny went and did it. My tomatoes that I carefully grew from seed, the ones that I protected from cold and sun by bringing them in and out of the house for weeks, looked beautiful and robust and stately just last week, and then, Penny said the words... "curly top virus."
She penned the blog last week about the Bug Be Gone miracle worker. I thought.."I'll do that this weekend."
By Thursday the tops of my tomatoes looked like they were just a little thirsty. After watering Thursday evening, the leaves were still curly. Still in denial, I bought the Bug Be Gone on Saturday and applied it to the tomatoes Sunday... still curling.
I may have killed the bug but the virus seems to live on in my gorgeous, well-loved tomato plants.
I decided I will remain in denial until the plants actually die. Hopefully all eighteen will feel my positive vibes and positive thinking will prevail.
"A strong positive attitude will create
more miracles than any wonder drug."
Jimmy Patricia Neal
By Penny Stine
Friday, June 8, 2012
When it comes to gardening, I need to remember to listen to my mother. Her dad grew a huge garden when she was a kid growing up in Michigan. As an adult, she's grown gardens in Wyoming, Alaska, Oklahoma and Nebraska. She knows more about gardening than half the experts who are writing blogs, books and advice.
She grows food that she likes to eat, so when she discovered Anasazi beans from the Dove Creek area, she decided to plant a few and see if they'd grow in Nebraska. She didn't bother ordering seeds from a catalog, instead, she bought a bag of beans intended for cooking from Alida's when she was visiting and planted those in hopes they'd produce. They did, and she had a boatload of dried beans last winter that she'd grown herself last summer.
This year, my friend, Jan, and I decided to try and grow a bean that was meant to be dried. We ordered a cowpea from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds called a Red Bisbee. It was supposed to come from Bisbee, Arizona and thrive in the heat.
We ordered a packet of seeds for $2.50. There were maybe 30 seeds in it, which we split between the two of us. Although most (not all) of mine germinated, the bugs decimated most of them. I have five plants left - they're the bigger plants in the row on the right in the trellis.
Those are some expensive beans.
I have this great trellis just waiting for beans. I finally remembered what my mom did, so I went to Alida's for beans, where I bought an entire pound of Anasazi beans for $2.50. I re-planted my trellis area, where I had enough seeds for double rows on either side of my planting box, plus a few in the center. I gave some to Jan (whose red Bisbee cowpeas were also not performing) and cooked the rest for dinner.
So far, they're germinating just fine, but I'm feeling stupid for not listening to my mom. When it comes to gardening, Mom always knows best.