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 Carol Clark
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Labor Day marks the ending of summer and a new autumn season beginning. The weather is starting to get cooler. Last night was the first night I slept with a blanket all night without kicking it off.
Our tomato plants have finally been producing enough for our family, but not quite as much as we had hoped for, so we took a trip to Rettig Farms on Orchard Mesa to pick some tomatoes. They have a "You Pick" field that is full of delicious red ripe tomatoes. You can pick a twenty-five pound half bushel bucket for only $5.50. They will have tomatoes until the first freeze if all the green tomatoes are any indication.
We brought our tomatoes home, scrubbed them and turned them into vegetable juice. It was a little disappointing to realize 25 pounds of tomatoes, celery, parsley, onion and carrots and four hours of hard labor only turned into only EIGHT QUARTS of juice. I told my husband we could do another batch, but he had enough of all that fun.
Next Monday night brings the full harvest moon. If it's not raining, spend some time at the fire pit enjoying peach cobbler and the last of summer evenings.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, September 1, 2011
I planted walking onions two years ago and have been unsure about what and when to harvest. We used the greens when they were young, I’ve dug up a couple bulbs, but I know you’re supposed to leave some in the ground if you want them to walk again the following year.
So I left some in the ground. Look what happened:
I think my walking onions are confused. I think I should have also dug up more bulbs around this particular plant.
A couple years ago, my mom gave me garlic seeds from a rogue garlic plant that was taking over Nebraska, which I liberally scattered in a couple places. I also planted garlic from bulbs last fall and have already harvested (and used) most of them.
Meanwhile, the plants that started from the seeds didn’t get very big and didn’t grow much of a bulb, so I ignored them and just let the greens die down. I think they started over:
Obviously, the garlic and onions think it’s spring. I hate to crush their dreams with the calendar, but it will be interesting to watch and see what these little plants do over the winter.
By Carol Clark
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
I copied this into my journal from, "When Wanderers Cease To Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put" by Vivian Swift. This charming book is filled with watercolors of nature, seasonal landscapes and small everyday pleasures.
The perfect sentiment for those of us approaching "middle age." Shhhhh.
The Acre of Earth Theory of Life
. Everybody gets an acre of Earth when they're born.
. Parents are the first fences.
. Teenagers think that ugly clothes, uglier hairstyles, and horrible music tears down those fences. This is pretty funny.
. Whatever you do in your 20's is just mapping expeditions.
. By the time you're 35 you're probably a battle weary veteran of numerous clashes over territory, a few border wars - your acre of Earth's been trampled pretty bad. It could use some re-landscaping.
. It takes most of your 40's to clear out the dead wood, plant a nice garden, dredge the swampy bits, observe the seasons. This is how you discover that there's an Eden on the far side of your acre that you never knew was there.
If you EVER feel crowded into a corner by your life, you need to take a better look at your acre of Earth. IT'S BIGGER THAN YOU THINK.
By Penny Stine
Monday, August 29, 2011
Although I was hoping I’d grow enough green beans to make dilly beans, my beans did not get the memo and have not been producing enough. But my friend, Jan of the awesome garden, convinced me that it would be OK to buy beans to make them. So we did.
Jan bought the beans and the garlic from Z’s Orchard at the Saturday farmers market in Teller Arms and we canned dilly beans on Sunday. Jan bought half a bushel of green beans, which made a lot of dilly beans. We both had enough cucumbers to make a vat of refrigerator dills, so we decided to do that, too.
We picked all the dill that was still standing in my garden. (How did dill and cucumbers ever get paired together? My dill is always at its peak in June or July and cucumbers and green beans don’t show up until August.)
I found a recipe on cooks.com that I liked, although I wasn’t sure how much dill a dill head was. Jan didn’t know, either, but we entertained ourselves for the entire afternoon by calling each other dill heads.
Now comes the hard part. The refrigerator pickle recipe says to wait 10 days to eat them and the dilly beans recipe said to wait 6 - 8 weeks!
FYI, that's not a cinnamon stick in the dill pickles - it's a Chinese red noodle bean. We discovered they change color when they're cooked, so we didn't want to include them in the processed dilly beans. Since refrigerator pickles aren't cooked when processed, the red beans stay red when stuffed in the jar of pickles. We also added onions and more garlic, because pickled onions & garlic are da' bomb. Especially if your significant other eats them, too, and isn't offended by your pickled garlicky onion breath.
By Erin McIntyre
Friday, August 26, 2011
Bob Korver is the kind of guy who likes to step out his back door, pick a tomato and eat it for lunch. Now you can pick those gorgeous tomatoes in Bob’s backyard, too.
Bob and his wife, Elaine, started Green Acres U-Pick at 3601 G Road this year after Bob retired from his career as an English teacher and counselor. He mostly grew up on small farms and turned his summer gardening hobby into a business.
To start, the Korvers planted produce they knew they would love to eat. They weren’t sure what veggies would be in high demand, so this year is kind of an experiment. One customer bought 20 eggplants at once. They actually sold out of onions, which was a big surprise.
He considers the 25 varieties of tomatoes he planted an exercise in restraint, considering that there are more than 750 varieties out there. Five kinds of watermelons wind their way down the rows, including the Moon and Stars variety, which could grow melons weighing up to 40 pounds each.
This fall, you can peruse his seven varieties of pumpkins and maybe experiment with grinding your own Hopi Blue or Bloody Butcher corn. And hopefully next spring there will be thousands of strawberries waiting to be plucked from the 4,000 berry plants growing this year. In the meantime, you can also browse the lavender test site where Korver is trying to determine if lavender can be grown as a row crop here in the Grand Valley.
Deep down, Korver loves gardening but he’s also still an educator. He would like to see more families and children come out to the farm. “I would love for kids to see where their food comes from,” he said. “We’ve lost a connection to our food when it just comes from the grocery store.”
All of Green Acres’ produce is grown without pesticides or herbicides.
Of course, this means investing more elbow grease and sweat at Green Acres U-Pick. You can almost taste all the work that went into it in those luscious tomatoes.
Green Acres U-Pick is on Facebook and is open from 8 am to 7 pm. It’s a good idea to call Bob ahead of time at 640-2010 to make sure it’s not too muddy to pick and see what’s available.