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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Penny Stine
Friday, July 13, 2012
Before last year, I never bothered growing onions or garlic simply because both are fairly inexpensive at the grocery store. I figured buying them was as cheap as growing them and I had a small garden. After expanding my garden last year, I decided to try my hand at both onions and garlic.
I discovered that if you don't pick them as soon as the stalks of either plants begin to turn brown, they have a way of disappearing, especially in a garden like mine where everything is fairly crowded together and nothing is in a neat and tidy row marked with a handy-dandy sign reminding me where I've put anything. Yes, my garden can be as complicated and convoluted as my sentence structure!
I planted red onions last year and harvested far fewer than I planted. The good news is that while the green onion top turned brown, withered and was hidden behind whatever plant was planted next to it, the bulb below the ground patiently bided its time, waiting for me to remember where I planted it. This spring, the bulbs sprouted green tops again and I paid attention and dug them before they withered and died.
So the $2.50 or whatever I paid for the bag of 50 tiny red onion bulbs in the spring of 2011 was actually a pretty good deal, giving me red onions for two years. I've also been scattering the seeds from the ones that have gone to seed in hopes that they'll give me more next year.
Onions... the crop that keeps on giving. I guess that's in more ways than one for onion lovers and the non-onion lovers who love them.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I planted flower seeds on the bare side of this particular flower pot, hoping they'd grow around the tomato plant. The flowers didn't come up and the tomato decided to form tomatoes only on one side, making it a little lop-sided.
Because I used compost from my compost bin, a melon also sprouted. Sadly, it's forming on the same side as the tomatoes. I hope it doesn't tip over my flowerpot.
Although it's still pretty tiny, I'm thinking it might be a honeydew, which would be great because the ones I grew last year were fabulous. They were also large... I don't think this one will get big, but I could be wrong.
By Penny Stine
Monday, July 9, 2012
Beckie Giles, an advertising sales rep here at the Daily Sentinel, sent me some photos of her husband's straw bale garden. They have an agreement that she tends the traditional garden and he experimented with straw bales. Judging by these photos, I'd say his experiment is a huge success.
She also said that the birds came along and ate quite a few plants when they first came up.
Obviously, the birds didn't get everything. Maybe it's good they thinned the plantings - I don't know how much more these bales can hold.
By Penny Stine
Friday, June 29, 2012
I promised I'd post a photo of my straw bale efforts after I posted the photos from the reader in Delta. I have to admit, I tend to neglect my straw bale garden. It has a very crude drip system that I can leave on indefinitely without making a muddy mess, so I leave it and go check on it every few days to make sure the water is still dripping.
I've got potatoes in the middle of the nine-bale rectangle, which are doing quite well. Everything else, with the exception of one pepper plant, is just looking OK. I think the holes in the hose can get clogged, so I'm not sure the plants are getting enough water.
My bales at home are less than OK. Everything is still pretty small, although I do have a couple peppers forming on a plant in the straw bale and no peppers yet on plants in the ground. I've also had a problem with insects eating plants before they can get established on my home straw bales, which wasn't supposed to happen when you plant in straw. I also have tons of weeds surrounding my bales at home, since I plonked the bales down in the middle of my weedy wildflower area.
Here are the bales of some of the other community garden growers. These gardeners made a cool irrigation pump that runs on a battery, so they water with a tiny sprinkler every other day. They also don't have a garden at home, so are tickled to have a place to grow tomatoes and squash and put more effort into their growing efforts than I do. They have quite a few green tomatoes on their plants and their basil plant is producing like crazy.
Last, but not least, here are the Kids of the Kingdom preschool's bales. They get watered twice daily (or at least Monday through Friday) by the children when they're outside playing. Everything they're growing looks quite healthy and happy. I hope the pumpkins produce enough pumpkins so that each child can take one home in the fall.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
As a writer, I love it when people read something I've written about and take the time to write back. I wrote about straw bale gardening in the spring and in the summer home improvement sections, and since then, I've heard from several readers.
Yesterday, I received a letter and photos from a Delta man, who said he and his wife have been growing tomatoes in straw bales for several years. His trick to not using too much water was digging a hole about 10 inches deep, with an eight-inch diameter. He then places half of a disposable diaper at the bottom of the hole before filling it with potting soil and fertilizer. The diaper helps hold the water.
Of course it does, that's what they're designed to do. Well, they're designed to hold liquid, not necessarily serve as a reservoir for an inexpensive planter box.
I thought it was a pretty brilliant idea, and as you can see from the photos he sent to me, his tomatoes grew very well.
He and his wife also keep their bales much neater and tidier than mine are. I'll take a pic of my bales at home and the ones at the community garden to post tomorrow or the next day - mine are definitely weedier and somewhat neglected.
Next year, I'm buying diapers for my bales!