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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Compost is this girl’s best friend

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last year, I thought I hated my compost bin, because it was too tall for me to work the compost with a shovel. My husband was gracious enough to build me a lower, open compost bin last spring, which works well in the summer when the weather's hot. I also broke down and bought a pitchfork, which is the real secret to compost success. I emptied this bin at the end of last summer & spread compost all over my garden. Then I promptly filled it with leaves, a little grass and other yard debris. I've been tossing kitchen scraps (especially coffee grounds) in it all winter and trying to go turn it once every week or two. 






The result of my winter diligence? Compost! Lovely, lovely compost, which I worked into the soil before I planted peas. 


OK, so I didn't get much. I'm working on quality, not quantity. 

Adding compost to garden soil is ALWAYS a good idea here in the Grand Valley with our alkaline clay soil. Right now, the Mesa County Landfill is having a March sale. You can get a truckload of Mesa Magic (and pay tax, too) for $25. Such a deal! 






Even if you put a yard of compost on your garden last year, put another yard on again this year. Your garden will thank you. 


Cool tools

By Penny Stine
Monday, March 19, 2012

Men know that the secret to success is having the right tools, so anytime they do anything, it's an excuse to go buy a new tool. Preferably one that makes a lot of noise and is capable of destruction. Women (or at least this particular woman) will often make do using whatever tool is on hand, on sale or otherwise convenient. I have learned the error of my ways. Look what I bought this spring, thanks to my master gardening class:


These are some seriously awesome tools. The hand shovel is a nice, sturdy little tool. The middle tool (sorry, I don't know the right name. A hacker/chopper/slasher?) is awesome. It slices, it dices and it really cuts stubborn roots from your neighbors' trees that insist on spreading into your garden.  The long-handled hand-shovel is great at digging up grass, which tends to have long, spreading, annoying roots that are trying to stake a claim in your flower beds. 

Last year, I discovered a pitchfork was essential for making compost. More on that tomorrow. 


Something to while away the time until planting

By {screen_name}
Friday, March 16, 2012







While we are waiting for planting season to arrive, I thought you might enjoy a few pictures of vintage seed packets that I found on Pinterest.








I am always disappointed when I receive packets in the mail and they are white envelopes with black lettering and no artwork. I know this saves me money but wouldn't you love to get some of these beautiful works of art in the mail?















It would be a treasure to own a collection of these packets from the past.



Fuzzy willows make me happy

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ok, so it doesn't roll off the tongue like John Denver's more famous song, but anyone who's lived here in the Grand Valley of western Colorado  for more than a couple of years understands what I mean. I was out taking pics the other day and I saw these:

Now, I don't want a globe willow tree in my yard, nor do I want my next-door neighbor to have one, since its leaves and  branches would end up in my yard. But I do love seeing them in early spring. Crocuses start blooming in late winter, but once I see the fuzzy, greenish yellow willows, I know that spring is here. 

I think this photo this yard has both a weeping willow and a globe willow in it. These homeowners must enjoy picking up branches. The first year we lived here, I was convinced that I wanted a globe willow tree in my yard. I'm glad we never got around to planting one, but I do appreciate the ones that are in somebody else's yard. (Who lives at least three houses down from me!) 


More greenhouse improvements

By Penny Stine
Monday, March 12, 2012

My insane gardening pal and I decided it was time to start the tomatoes. We decided to go buy another grow light at Lowe's so we could put all the tomatoes under it, as well as a few other plants that needed better lighting. While at Lowe's we also went to Hobby Lobby (who knew it was a gardening supply store?) and got multi-colored popsicle sticks so we could color-code our tomato varieties.

I thought we had 10 different kinds of seeds, but it turns out that number was only nine. Our popsicle sticks only came in six different colors, so we had to use the same color more than once. We did write our color-code down on a piece of paper. Now it's my job not to lose it between now and summer, when we'll actually be picking tomatoes. It will probably go somewhere so safe that I can never find it again. 

The number of seeds we could start was limited by the number of plants that would fit under the grow light. I won't say how many tomato plants we started. If I did, you'd know why I'm now calling Jan of the awesome garden my insane gardening pal. Let's just say we have plenty of plants in case half of them die when we transplant them. 

I have the mechanical aptitude of an earthworm, but I was able to figure out how to assemble and hang the lights from this plant shelf. So far, the broccoli is still too droopy and spindly, but I'm hoping it will start standing up straighter any day now.

I have some extra Kellogg Breakfast and Virginia Sweet seeds left over (they're ones I collected from what I grew last summer) so please let me know if anyone wants them. I'll be happy to share.  

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