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, October 11, 2011
There’s nothing like the crisp, fall air to make you want to plant your spring garden. Well, actually, it’s a tough habit to get into, but once you do, it’s so rewarding in the springtime to have early season crops coming up long before you’ve even planted anything else that it’s easier to do it the following year.
Last weekend, I got several beds cleaned out and fertilized, thanks to the compost from my compost bin. Then I broke up the heads of garlic and planted those, along with a few other seeds I wanted to try.
From experience, I know that spinach does really well here when you plant it in the fall. I found this purple broccoli that’s also supposed to be planted in the fall for overwintering, with an early springtime harvest. The cauliflower is also a purple variety, which makes me wonder if I'll be able to tell them apart, although from the picture on the seed packet, it looks like the broccoli doesn't form one big head, but makes a bunch of little florettes instead.
I actually bought the cauliflower seeds and planted some in mid-summer, hoping for a second crop. That was disappointing, as you can see by the itty-bitty cauliflower plant in a corner of what is now my garlic bed. (Which also has rhubarb in the other corner…)
I don’t know what will happen to my half-grown cauliflower in the next few weeks. I don’t think it will get big enough to form a head before it freezes. I planted some loose leaf cabbage in my other garden when I planted the cauliflower, and it’s also not growing fast enough to produce much of anything before November. I’m hoping they both survive the first couple snows and give me something fresh from the garden for Thanksgiving!
In the meantime, I've got a good section of this garden cleaned out, composted and planted for the spring.
I also moved some of my walking onions, which are already coming up in their new spot. (They're also coming up in their old spot, too, so I guess planting onions in the fall works, since that's what they're doing when left to themselves.) I've never tried either broccoli or cauliflower, but I know that both garlic and spinach do well when planted in the fall.
If you have the time and can make yourself get into planting mode, go toss some spinach seeds in the ground sometimes before it freezes. I usually plant later in October, but since I had my garden shovel for the garlic, I decided to plant spinach (and broccoli & cauliflower), too. Trust me, when you're eating spinach four times a week in May and June, you'll thank me!
By Penny Stine
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Every year as the garden winds down, it's good to reflect back on the season and think about what worked and what didn't. On one hand, I loved the look of my biggest garden this year:
Since it's in the front yard, it was fun to be able to show it off to the neighbors, who all appreciated how pretty and inviting it was. One even confessed to me that he took walks in my garden during the daytime when I wasn't around, which didn't bother me at all.
On the other hand, all these flowers crowded out the veggies, and anyone who reads my blog entries knows that when it comes to growing, I'm all about eating what I grow.
Next year, fewer flowers, more melons, peppers, kale, eggplant and beans. And I will pluck out all the baby morning glories when they start to sprout! Someone told me I'd regret introducing them into my yard and I didn't believe her...
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumn.
- George Eliot
While autumn is creeping into the valley, the high country is well into the throngs of fall.We packed the Jeep with mom and dad, sandwiches and a bottle of wine and headed to the Fruita Reservoir section of Grand Mesa National Forest. This is always my favorite place to view fall colors. A dusty dirt road with the occasional hunter and firewood cutters, this area always has the best of colors.
The aspens trees in this area don't simply turn yellow, they have a tinge of pink and orange in them. The oak brush turns all different colors from tan to red to a beautiful deep mahogany color.
Most of the oak brush and aspen were turning, but there was still a lot of green so next weekend should be just as good if the weather straightens up.
Pack a picnic and a sweater and head out to see the most perfect garden of all.
By Penny Stine
Monday, October 3, 2011
As the garden season winds down and you start thinking about cleaning out your garden, don't forget to create a space for planting garlic. I like to shop locally when possible, so I picked up several packets from Bookcliff Gardens (they have elephant ear, Spanish roja (which means red) and German red garlic. This is all they have, and they had a list of people who had asked for garlic, so if your name is not on the list, hurry on down to Bookcliff and get your bulbs.
I called around, and Valley Grown Nursery had a limited supply of garlic bulbs for planting (they had six left on Monday, Oct. 3) and Mt. Garfield Greenhouse didn't have any. Ann from Bookcliff said they may be able to order more if they sell out.
Garlic will sprout early, require little care and will give you the lovely garlic scapes (aka, the green tops) by June, which make the most delicious pesto imaginable.
If Bookcliff sells out, there are online gardening supply companies that sell garlic, and you've still got time. I don't think I planted mine last year until the first part of November.
I know, you're sick of gardening, but your taste buds will thank you next summer when you make pesto out of the scapes.
By Penny Stine
Friday, September 30, 2011
If you planted tomatillos and are now facing a jungle like this, have I got an idea for you! At least if you're not afraid to get out the canning kettle or do some work ahead of time.
I made tomatillo sauce last weekend with a friend and processed 14 quarts using a hot water bath, preserving them for use in the winter. I had three quarts left and didn't want to process them, so I stuck one in the freezer and put the others in the fridge so I could make posole in the crock-pot this week.
Wait? Did you hear that? A thousand tiny voices sighing in ecstasy over the thought of hot, tasty posole, waiting for you when you come home from working and working out? No? Hmmm... I definitely heard something. Maybe it was the sound of my own drool dripping down my chin.
I developed this recipe after reading several others on the Internet. I'm sure it's not authentic, but it's pretty good and incredibly easy.
1 pork shoulder roast
2 – 3 cloves garlic
1 large can of hominy
1 or 2 quarts of home-canned tomatillos (you can also use home-canned tomatoes and add a bit more chiles or a can of Ro-tel tomatoes)
1 sandwich bag full of chopped roasted chiles (if you buy them and freeze them) or 1 can of roasted chiles
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin
Garnish: cilantro, lime, radish, avocado, sour cream or shredded cheese
Chop the onions and garlic. Put the pork roast in the crock-pot and add all the other ingredients. Cook for 8 – 10 hours. Prior to serving, break up the meat with a spoon and pull out the bone. Serve in large bowls, garnish with your favorite topping.
If you prefer spicier foods, add another can of chiles, a splash of Frank’s Red Hot sauce or additional chile powder or cayenne pepper.
Here is what you'll get: