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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Let the drooling begin!

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Now that the holidays are over, the January snow has settled in and we’re fully entrenched in winter, it’s permissible to look at seed catalogs. That’s the official word from Rita Watson, gardener extraordinaire and teller of funny farm tales here at the Daily Sentinel. (Please note, the tales are funny, smileyRita does not live on a funny farm.)

According to Rita, even though the catalogs start trickling in the mailbox in December, it’s best to simply put them away on a bookshelf somewhere until the holidays are finished and the decorations are stored. Seed catalogs require full and concentrated attention, and it’s hard to give them proper devotion in December, what with all the holiday hubbub and the expectation that someone ought to quit daydreaming about big tomatoes and cook a ham.
So far, I’ve received three catalogs in the mail and one from Rita, who had no interest in that particular seed producer.


Here at the Sentinel, we also received an absolutely gorgeous, coffee-table-book type catalog from Baker Heirloom Seeds, but one of my fellow dirty gardeners, who shall remain nameless, but whose last name rhymes with ark, nabbed the catalog and won’t let me look at it for fear that I’ll drool on all the pretty pictures.
I called the company and requested a seed catalog of my very own. It hasn’t come in the mail yet, but take a look at their website: rareseeds.com


See? Now you want one, too, don’t ya?


Ready to bloom

By Laurena Mayne Davis
Monday, January 10, 2011

No matter how low the temperature plummets or how short the day compresses, plants are always readying for spring.

I was reminded of this as I was bundled up and shuffling across my snow-covered driveway recently. I spied — through the narrow slot between scarf wrapped high and hat pulled low — these buds forming on a pussy willow bush in the backyard.  



Illogically, for water-loving willows, I planted this bush a few years ago in a xeriscape bed. It thrives: offering fuzzy blooms in the spring, a corner-filling mound of green (when heavily pruned) in the summer, and beautiful red twigs in the winter.




Before long it will be clothed in flowers and abuzz bees, as it was last spring.



It is easy being green

By Carol Clark
Thursday, January 6, 2011

I made a few new goals for the New Year. I don't like calling them resolutions because we all know what happens with those. One goal was eating healthier with more raw food in my diet — and I'm not talking about sushi.

You can grow your own fresh raw greens all year long, even when it is -2 degrees outside. A trip to The Vitamin Cottage and you will find all kinds of seeds you can easily sprout right in your cupboard.

I chose alfalfa sprouts because this is what I'm most familiar with, but they had all kinds including bean sprouts, broccoli sprouts, and many I had never heard of like Mung beans.

These little babies are super high in nutrients and add a fresh, nutty taste to sandwiches, soups and salads.

Sprouting is quick, easy and economical. I used a simple Mason jar and a screw top lid from The Vitamin Cottage with ready made holes for oxygen. You could also use cheese cloth or screen to fit over the top of your jar. Anything that will let the oxygen in and keep the little sweeties inside.

Place a tablespoon of seeds in your jar and cover them with cool water and let them soak 6-8 hours. Pour off the water through the holes and roll the jar to spread the seeds out in the jar. Set the jar in a dark cupboard tipped up on edge in a bowl lined with a dish towel so water can continue to drip out. You want the seeds to be moist not soaked.

Three times every day take the jar out of the cupboard and rinse the seeds through the holes in the jar, swirl them around and drain, placing the jar back in the dark cupboard. You can see them start to sprout after the first day.

After 3-4 days take the sprouts out and swirl them in a bowl of water. The husks of the seeds with float to the top where you can skim them off and discard. Don't worry, you don't need to get them all. Place the sprouts back in the jar and set the jar tipped up in a bowl in front of a sunny window. In a matter of a few hours you can see the seeds starting to turn green from photosynthisis!

Rinse the seeds again and place them in a container in your fridge until you are ready to use them.

You can store the dry seeds for a long period of time which would make them handy in case of emergencies when other fresh veggies may not be available. I am excited to try different seeds and keep my family in fresh greens all winter long.

"Watching something grow is good for morale. It helps you believe in life."
-Myron S. Kaufman


The plot thickens…

By Penny Stine
Monday, January 3, 2011

You may think this looks like an innocent jar of green beans. In reality, it's a secret weapon to encourage my husband to join in the planning for next season’s garden.

Turns out, my husband loves dilly beans. Who knew? I certainly didn’t, and we’ve been married 26 years. I only made five jars of them last summer, but promised to make boatloads of them next year, if only he’d design and build a better trellis for pole beans to climb.

He immediately grabbed a pencil and paper and started drawing.


What’s a gardener to do in winter?

By Penny Stine
Thursday, December 30, 2010

I love gardening because it gives me a great activity that gets me outside, plus I get something out of the deal. I put in time, money and effort and I get to enjoy watching something grow and then, once it’s grown, I get to eat it.
Don’t get me wrong; I’ve got lots of other hobbies that eat up my time, money and effort without giving me anything in return except sunburn, satisfaction and maybe a few sore muscles. But it’s just nice to have at least one hobby that pays me back.
So after I put my garden to bed in the fall, I was temporarily hobbyless. Not enough snow for skiing, too cold for rafting, golfing or riding motorcycles. My fellow blogger and incredibly wise friend, Carol, told me to learn how to knit.
I took two classes and have become a knitting fiend. In three weeks, I’ve knitted three scarves, one beanie and one pair of fingerless mittens. Here are my boys, modeling their knitted Christmas presents.






Here's Howie, reluctantly wearing the scarf I knitted after Christmas to give to my youngest son. (Jesse wasn't available for posing, so I made Howie do it... he's not a happy dog.) 

I’ve started a fourth scarf (it’s a late Christmas present), have plans to knit another two-hour hat with a friend on New Year’s Day and hope to make a scarf for my dad sometime next week.
The cool thing is that several of us here at the Sentinel are knitters. In fact, several Dirty Gardeners are also crazy knitters, so we bring our knitting to work to compare, ask for advice and ooh and ah over each other’s projects. It makes it much easier to learn when there are so many people to offer help and advice.


Another plus to knitting is that after putting in your time, money and effort, you get something out of the deal!

Kind of like gardening, except I get to sit inside by the fireplace and keep my fingernails clean.

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