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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Cold be gone

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.


Summer will come again

By {screen_name}
Monday, January 16, 2012

But until then we wait.  I love the quietness of winter.  It's the only time you can go for a walk in our busy neighborhood and enjoy complete quiet.  Everyone is warm inside their houses enjoying the warmth of cozy indoor activities.  Winter truly is a beautiful season - this is what I keep telling myself while I watch and wait for spring.

This photo from simplygoodstuff.tumblr.com reminds me of one of my favorite things to do as a child.

I made little miniture snowmen and dressed them in doll clothes.  My patient mother let me pull icicles from the house and store them in the freezer for summer although fresh ice out of the freezer was the better choice come summer.

When I was a child I didn't mind the winter so much. I played outside everyday and loved the quietness of the farm.

I came across this quote from Sunset that made me aware that even though it doesn't look like anything is happening in the garden preperation and growth for spring is underway.


"January is the quietest month in the garden. ... But just because it looks quiet doesn't mean that nothing is happening. The soil, open to the sky, absorbs the pure rainfall while microorganisms convert tilled-under fodder into usable nutrients for the next crop of plants. The feasting earthworms tunnel along, aerating the soil and preparing it to welcome the seeds and bare roots to come."
- Rosalie Muller Wright, Editor of Sunset Magazine


Full moon alert

By {screen_name}
Monday, January 9, 2012

Make sure to step out into the garden tonight to see the full moon or the "Full Wolf Moon." Full moon names began with Native American tribes and are carried on today.

According to Farmers' Almanac, "Amid the cold and deep snows of midwinter, the wolf packs howled hungrily outside Indian villages. Thus, the name for January’s full Moon. Sometimes it was also referred to as the Old Moon, or the Moon After Yule. Some called it the Full Snow Moon, but most tribes applied that name to the next Moon."

Foiled sports commentators everywhere are asking, "Could this be the reason for the Bronco's OT victory?"

"Wolfs have been howling at the moon for centuries and it is still there."   -  unknown


How to make your brain hurt in January

By Penny Stine
Friday, January 6, 2012

I had my interview today at the CSU extension office for the master gardener class. Because I write about landscaping, gardening, trees, lawn care and horticulture issues for some of our home improvement sections and I also contribute to this blog, my boss (bless you, Andy) and our HR department agreed that the master gardener class would be an appropriate class for me to take if I wanted to. 

Ha! Does a dog want to roll in something smelly?

The class is intensive and time-consuming and just looking at the book (no, I haven't been brave enough to peek inside the cover yet) makes my brain hurt. At the end of the interview, I had to take a test to assess my general knowledge. Boy, am I ignorant! Susan Rose, who oversees the master gardener class, said they give the same test at the end of the 11 weeks and they expect attendees to pass the second time they take it. 

I'm excited about the class - it's designed for our micro-climate and deals with everything from irrigation to pest control to tree pruning and xeriscape and other issues that concern local growers and hobbyists. 

But I'm still pretty sure my brain will hurt. 


Inexpensive grow lights

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My husband is a guy who guards his garage space. He allocates where I can put my gardening paraphernalia and gets cranky when it spills over into unauthorized space. So I guess I shouldn't have been surprised when his eagle eyes noticed my most recent garden-related purchase, even though I thought I'd stashed it inconspicuously.

See them there, leaning nonchalantly next to my canning shelves? These little lights will be the secret to my fabulous garden success in 2012. The garden catalogs have elaborate systems for starting seeds with light and heat that cost lots of money, which I did not want to spend. So I went to Lowe's, where I asked the guy guarding the door about grow lights for starting seeds. Turns out that he's a gardener, too, and knew just where to take me.



I had to buy a shop light fixture, which cost about $10, along with two fluorescent tubes, which also cost about $10 each. The lights have both blue and red spectrum lights, which is something the gardening books say is essential for indoor plants.

While I was standing in the aisle, I ran into Dennis Hill from Bookcliff Garden, who was also doing a bit of shopping. He confirmed that the lights were exactly what I needed for successful indoor seed germination. Although the lights aren't designed to give heat, he said if I could put them on an adjustable chain so that I could have them inches above the seedlings, it should do the trick.




Now all I have to do is find room on my plant shelves. Don't you hate how every horizontal surface in the house gets filled with something?

On the other hand, the tomato plant I brought inside in October has adjusted quite well to life in the southern-facing bay window of the living room. It's got tons of blossoms and four tiny tomatoes! Still not sure where I'll put it when I want to start seeds, but I'll figure something out. 

I've also got a biodome coming from Park Seed. More on that, with photos of my grow-light, when my greenhouse is ready in another month or so.  

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