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
Thursday, February 16, 2012
My apologies for not posting anything new in a while. It's tough to get excited about gardening in the middle of winter. Unless, of course, you're enrolled in the CSU Extension Master Gardening program! Then it's easy to get excited, but even tougher to find time to blog.
For anyone considering taking the class, let me just urge you to find time to fit it into your schedule next winter. The class exposes all your bad gardening habits but also teaches what to do to improve. I realized I've got to do something about the way I water. I'm stressing out my garden plants and creating problems by using the same old pop-up and oscillating sprinklers we used when the area was lawn.
I wanted to include a photo of the class. I took this right after lunch yesterday when everyone was still coming in and getting ready to sit down and listen to the second half of the presentation by Dr. Ned Tisserant on plant pathology. (Oh, the many ways in which I kill my poor plants!)
Dr. Tisserant teaches at CSU and doesn't visit most of the master gardening programs across the state, but he said that the program here in Grand Junction is probably the largest and one of the best in the state.
This year, they cut the enrollment at 70. Last year, they only allowed 60 in the program, but realized they didn't have enough volunteers to get through the summer. So back up to 70 this year.
There are also professionals in the class, people who work in landscaping, design and lawn care. It's always good to get their perspective. Yes, in spite of the large class size, people ask questions and make comments.
This program gets two thumbs up (and yes, they're both green) from me!
By Penny Stine
Friday, February 3, 2012
I got my first seed order in the mail last night! It was an exciting moment, especially since it was from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I thought I'd get seeds from Tomato Growers Supply and Park Seed first, since I ordered from both of those companies three days before I sent in my order to Baker.
Yes, I ordered a lot of seeds. Lynn Lickers reminded me I don't have 20 acres in Loma and don't have enough room for that many plants. Details, schmetails... I'll find room for the Kazakh melons and the rat's tail radish. I will purchase even more seeds from Bookcliff Gardens, as well, in a show of support to local business. Who needs lawn???
Northeast Christian Church is planning on sponsoring a community garden in the lot adjacent to the building (it's at 27 1/2 and Patterson). I'll be the contact person for the garden, so of course I'll have a plot there. It gives me a 20X20 plot, in addition to the ones in my yard. Of course I'll have room for all that squash, eggplant, melons and peppers.
The church will publicize more as we get details worked out and work dates in place, but if you know anyone or are interested in a community garden plot at Northeast church, please contact me.
Thursday, February 2, 2012
I have studied this impressive photo on flickr.com several times and it has provided me with some inspiration for the coming year and brings questions to my mind....
How strong do those shelves have to be?
How many hours did they spend canning?
Are they insane?
Well, I might be crazy, but I do like the idea of growing and preserving my own food. It takes me back to my childhood on the farm when everything was a bit simpler and even tastier.
The accomplished owner of this pantry says her main garden is 40x80 plus a corn garden and twenty-one fruit trees. She does admit that she sometimes over does it, but, she says, "you just never know which crop will fail, last year it was tomatoes."
She says the shelves are just L brackets screwed into studs...really?
I also love to spend hours looking through my Ball Canning Book dreaming of receiving exotic free food to preserve into beautiful jars of treats to squirrel away for winter.
I love the colors of the jars and think they are just beautiful, like this photo of applesauce blends from familyfeedbag.com.
"Put 'Em Up" is my newest resource for preserving. Besides canning, collecting books about canning seems to be my newest hobby. This book is full different techniques and methods of preserving foods with recipes organized in alphabetical order of the produce you are preserving.
Maybe it's cabin fever playing tricks on my mind, but I am so excited about this summer's garden and, best of all, laying up food for next winter. Maybe I too can become a fanatic like this canner.
By Penny Stine
Monday, January 30, 2012
The weather was great on Saturday and I've had enough of winter, so I went out and did some work in my garden. Before I got down to the business of cleaning up my weedy wildflower area, I decided to search for spinach, garlic, broccoli and cauliflower.
Yay! My garlic started coming up within a couple weeks of planting back in the fall, and sure enough, it's still there, waiting patiently for the weather to get a little warmer so it can take off.
My mom taught me the spinach trick of planting that in the fall, too. It doesn't come up soon after you plant it, but it does come up pretty early. Snow, frost and ice doesn't seem to hurt it. It was much colder last year, and it still came up in late January.
I probably lose some of the seeds to the birds and the weather, but I still get plenty of spinach in early summer, which is a great reason to plant it in November. It's always nice to harvest something in late May or early June, when I'm still planting everything else. I've tried planting spinach in early spring, but I always plant too late and it bolts before I get any.
Because this year has been so dry, I've gone out with the hose and even my two-gallon watering can a few times. According to what I just learned in my master gardening class, the roots don't require a lot of water right now, but a little bit here and there is good, given how little moisture we've received in the form of rain and snow.
The broccoli I planted in October is one that's designed for over-wintering. It's supposed to come up in the fall and then take off as soon as the weather starts to warm up in late winter/early spring. Unfortunately, mine came up in the fall but has disappeared over the winter. No sign of either the broccoli or the cauliflower I planted. Boo hoo.
This spinach is one I got from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds - It's called Gigante d'Inverno or giant of winter. (I knew all that high school Spanish would come in handy one day! I can figure out Italian seed names...)
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Last week, I started to get an ominous tickle in my throat. Both my son and my husband had suffered with some kind of cold that included a sore throat, and I didn't want to get it. I remembered that red chiles are full of vitamin C and capsaicin and are supposed to be a healthy superfood, so I turned to my already-used ristra and pulled off a couple more.
I used my food chopper because I have discovered the hard way that if you attempt to chop a dried red chile with a knife, you will send itsy-bitsy pieces of dried chile all across the kitchen. Keep chopped dried chiles in a spice container for easier use so you don't have to raid the ristra every time you want to pack a little punch in whatever you're cooking.
Or brewing, as the case may be. I had several herbal tea varieties in my cupboard, and over the past week, I've added a teaspoon or so of dried chiles to cups of all three of these in an attempt to ward off that sore throat and cold. I haven't caught it yet!
I think the chiles taste best in an herbal tea that has mint in it. I know, it seems like a weird combo, but what can I say? I like it.
Last night, I was encouraging my hubby to eat horseradish to get over his stuffy nose, and he wanted to know where I got that information, so I turned to Google. Yes, I found a couple reliable sources that said horseradish was good for the common cold and/or sinus trouble. I also found this homemade concoction that's supposed to prevent colds. I may mix up a batch and see what it does.