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
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.
By Penny Stine
Friday, December 23, 2011
Just in time to combat the January blahs, I opened my mailbox and found a wonderful present, the 2012 Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog! (go here to get yours)
This is a catalog to beat all catalogs. It's like the kind I vaguely remember my mom getting when I was a kid, with colorful, glossy pages and gorgeous pictures of vegetables, herbs and the occasional fruit.
I ordered plenty of seeds from Baker Creek last year, and I was going to blog about their performance compared to the seeds purchased from Park Seed or the ones I got at Bookcliff Gardens. Sadly, I never did.
I will say that I ordered a lot of exotic, unusual things from Baker Creek simply because they were offered, and many of them turned out to be so-so. Whether that was due to the growing conditions in our area and my garden, the seeds themselves or simply because I discovered that I don't care for the taste of tigger melons or Mexican sour gherkins (AKA mouse melons).
I also learned that quinoa doesn't grow here, at least not in the semi-shady area of my garden in which it was planted.
In spite of multiple busts last year, I will order seeds from Baker Creek again this year. I can't resist. Could you, after looking at these photos? When was the last time you got so excited about eggplant and squash? (And don't try to tell me that you don't find these photos exciting.)
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
During Thanksgiving I discovered I didn't have enough matching glasses for everyone at the table. Then I remembered seeing canning jars as drinking glasses in a magazine, so I tried it.
My unappreciative daughter visiting from Denver said,
"Grand Junction, where we drink out of canning jars and talk about how to kill chickens at Thanksgiving dinner." The poor thing has been away at college too long.
But, I loved the glasses and they are now the only glass I drink out of. And what better way to use all those empty jars in the winter months.
Searching the internet I found many other fun uses for jars and thought I would share them with you.
Drinking glasses - luxefind.com
Yarn holders to keep your yarn from tangling -HomeMadeSimple.com
Frosted candle Holders - Gleefulthings.com and theinspiredroom.net.
Silverware holder from Etsy.com
Lampshades - momprepares.com
Flower vases - Pinterest.com
Delicious baked cheesecakes - Theitaliandishblog.png
How do you use your empty jars?
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Faithful blog readers may remember the giant Hubbard squash my mom gave me back in October. It was so huge I split it with a wedge and a mall, as if I were a logger from Coos Bay, Oregon...
Then I cooked it (one half of the squash completely filled my oven, but fortunately, I have two ovens!) I froze it in plastic bags, ice cube trays and random plastic containers that used to hold sour cream, feta cheese or cream cheese. I wondered what I was going to do with all that frozen, cooked Hubbard squash.
The other day, my husband said he wanted four cheese mac and cheese, with Italian sausage. I never met a meal I couldn't add veggies to, so I decided to add some cubes of squash to the sauce. Then I decided to pick the last of the kale that was still standing in my garden, as well as some sage and throw that in, too.
I tossed in a handful of dehydrated tomatoes just 'cuz they're pretty.
The pasta was delish. I'm sure it was healthy, too, in spite of the Italian sausage and the entire bag of four cheese Italian blend (really, it was a small bag!) in it. I used whole grain elbow macaroni, but also used real cream in the sauce as well as the squash.
The cooked squash is great for thickening, adding a rich color and taste, although I'm sure the cream contributed to the richness, too.
I saved some of the Hubbard squash seeds back when I cooked it in October.
Guess what will be new in my 2012 garden?
By Penny Stine
Monday, December 12, 2011
What's a gardener to do when the southern bay window that's always held our Christmas tree in years' past now houses a giant plant shelf and an even bigger tomato plant that's still yielding tiny, tasty tomatoes?
Well, I'm certainly not getting rid of the tomato plant!
So my Christmas tree isn't visible from the curb this year. Big deal!
I could have done a better job stringing lights on the plant shelf, though. At least it's festive. Tacky, but festive.