Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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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:
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I took a day off work so I could get some work done last week. I went to Rettig Farms on Orchard Mesa (thanks for the reminder, Carol) last Friday, where I picked two bushels of Roma tomatoes, one bushel of green chiles and a little less than half a bushel of red chiles. They roasted the green chiles for me while I picked tomatoes. All told, it cost me $41.75 and took about an hour and a half to pick all that produce.
Then I went home and the real work began.I’ve been canning with my friend, Jan of the awesome garden, this year. It doesn’t seem like work when you’re chatting and working at the same time. In addition to all the produce I bought, we had both picked all the tomatillos and tomatoes from our own gardens, too.
Yes, we had a mess in the kitchen. My husband complained that there was tomato juice on the walls.
Our goal was to can tomatoes, make salsa, string two red chile ristras and can some tomatillo sauce. Although we peeled tomatoes like crazy women, we didn’t quite accomplish our goal in one day. We did, however, can 21 quarts of Italian tomatoes (with garlic and basil), 14 quarts of plain tomatoes and make another 16 or 17 pints of salsa. It was almost 8 p.m. by the time we’d done all that, so we called it good and planned to get together on Sunday to deal with the tomatillos.
Sunday afternoon saw us peeling a few more tomatoes, chopping tomatillos and heating up the canning kettle once more. We added some garlic, a couple habaneros, cumin, salt, a little lemon juice and some red chiles to the sauce to give it a Mexican flavor. It’s neither green like the tomatillos nor red like the tomatoes, but somewhere in between. Almost the color of cumin.
We ended up with 18 quarts of tomatillo sauce and had plenty of time to string ristras while the jars were processing.
The sauce is delish, perfect for green chile, posole, chilaquiles, enchiladas, taco soup, tortilla soup with chicken – all those southwestern comfort food dishes that get you through the winter. I used a little bit of it (along with chopped roasted chiles, garlic and instant coffee) as a marinade for London broil last night, and it was way yummy.
Tomatillos will keep producing until it freezes, so we’ll probably make more sauce over the next several weekends. Jan and I both want to make another ristra, too, ‘cuz one just isn’t enough.
Btw, I bought some of the reusable canning lids that are manufactured at the Incubator Center. They’re more expensive, (I think they cost about $10 for a dozen – available at the Fruita or the Palisade co-op or online) but since I’ve been canning for 25 years now, I have no doubt that I will continue to can every harvest and I will appreciate having them next year.
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Monday, September 26, 2011
Last fall Getting Dirty bloggers reflected back on the gardening season and set goals for the next. I had three: 1. Redouble soil-amendment efforts, 2. Commit to perennials and 3. Install an irrigation system.
Now that gardening season is winding down for me (Seriously, year-round gardeners, I don’t know how you do it. By this time of year I am so OVER IT.), it’s a good time to see how I measured up. To cut myself a little slack, let’s just do a little pass-or-fail exercise, shall we?
1. Redouble soil-amendment efforts: PASS.
Manure, grass clippings, leaves, kitchen scraps — it all went back into the garden. It’s a little sloppy and I deal with some weed seeds, but it’s worth it. I didn’t do any fertilizing other than top-dressing with compost a few times during the growing season and I never sprayed pesticides. (Fruit trees, however, are sprayed by a professional.)
2. Commit to perennials: PASS.
After a dozen years of just tilling up annuals every fall, I finally added some perennials. Witness this little rhubarb under the apricot tree and 20 stems of feathery asparagus by the nectarine:
Next year I may add a strawberry bed, too.
3. Install an irrigation system: FAIL.
Note my well-used collection of frog-eye sprinkler heads. I still dragged hoses all summer:
Someday we’ll put in a pop-up sprinkler system, but other home-improvement projects keep trumping this one. Until then, we’re just fortunate to have irrigation water and can get by with hoses and ditches.