Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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By Penny Stine
Friday, May 31, 2013
While there are many who would agree that my gardening obsession is a bit much, specifically, I need help in knowing what to do with this mustard, which is now coming up in several places in my garden. (It's the pretty red-leaved plant.) It's also strong and a bit on the hot and spicy side - think horseradish rather than habanero. I'm not from the south; I have no idea what to do with mustard greens. Or reds, as the case may be.
I also need suggestions for these, which are chamomile flowers. I could probably pick this amount of chamomile flowers every day. Yes, I know I can make great tea, but it's only May and the plants continue blooming through October. I don't drink that much tea.
Let me know if anyone has a suggestion for either one. I don't think combining them is an option...
By Penny Stine
Thursday, May 30, 2013
I posted the pic of the redneck trellis in my front yard a couple of weeks ago, which is a pallet, anchored by two corner-pieces that I think are used in framing a building. Last weekend, in addition to pulling endless weeds and planting hundreds more seeds, I set up a few more trellises.
Yes, this one is rather low to the ground, which makes sense because it's really a shoe rack that we weren't using. I'm hoping the cucumber that I planted near one end will grow along and through the shoe rack and eventually wind its way up the blue spruce tree.
Although seriously, why I want cucumbers in the blue spruce is a mystery. That tree hurts when you get too close! I'll be picking cucumbers in kevlar.
This is one of the trellises my amazing hubby built for me a few years ago. Every year, I move them around the garden to a new spot, with a new veggie growing on it. This one will have winter squash on one side and malabar spinach and pole beans on the other. I hope. The winter squash may get heavy enough to knock the whole thing over, but my husband is an engineer and he was pretty meticulous about designing a trellis for me that would be strong, could be dissembled at the end of the season and would last for years.
And last, but not least, here's my favorite new trellis. My amazing hubby thinks it makes our yard look even more rednecky, if that's possible. It's a coat rack the neighbor was selling at a garage sale. I planted pole beans all around it.
I have tomato cages I didn't use this year and I also have morning glories coming up in places I don't want them. I'm going to dig up the morning glories, transfer them to areas where I have a bare patch, and give them a tomato cage to climb. More trellises!
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I spent all day on Saturday working in my garden. We were gone for two weekends in a row, which gave the weeds, grass and other random things plenty of time to throw a party and invite all their friends to my garden. I think I see golden amaranth in this pic, as well as one tiny morning glory sprouting and lots of little elm trees. I hate elm trees. My neighbor has a really large one, so I've got thousands of baby elms sprouting in my yard, garden, flower pots, cracks in my sidewalk and everywhere else.
Before I weeded, I decided to go pick all the carrots and beets that were still in the ground from last year. I was alarmed to discover that the garlic was falling down and looked like it was dying!
Then I remembered, oh yeah, that's what it does. You have to let it die on top so the bulb underneath gets a little bigger. These particular ones died so thoroughly that I had a hard time finding the bulb last year, which is why they're growing in this bed again this year.
This is the garlic I intended to grow this spring. (in front and to the right of the columbine and catmint) It hasn't begun to die back yet, nor has it formed the curly scapes. I planted one variety of softneck and one hardneck. I can't remember where I planted which ones, but I'll be able to tell by the scape. Hardneck forms the curly cue scapes (which make wonderful pesto) and softneck doesn't. Softneck is supposed to store longer, which is why I planted both.
We use a lot of garlic, so I'm happy to have it in four different beds this year. Plus, it will keep the vampires out of my garden! Now, if only it would keep away the aphids.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, May 23, 2013
I planted tomatoes a couple of weeks ago and was so excited about the size of the plants, which I had raised from seed. I had at least seven different varieties, including two pink Caspian tomatoes, which I started because Dixie Burmeister said they were wonderful. The ones on this trellis are doing just fine.
The weeds are, too. But the weeds will be history after this weekend.
I marked almost all of the plants with a color-coded yarn system so I could keep track of which tomatoes I liked and which were flops. I ran out of different colored bits of yarn in my pockets, so this one is marked in blue tape. Really, it is. I put the tape higher up on the trellis because I'm counting on the tomato plant to get a lot taller. It's a Cherokee chocolate, which I've never grown before.
Much to my great distress, something ate my pink Caspians completely down to the ground within the first couple of days.
As if that wasn't traumatic enough, something gnawed through the stems of at least three other tomato plants.
Bookcliff Gardens has pink Caspian tomatoes this year, thanks to Dixie's polite nagging of Dennis Hill. Even though I spent tons of time and money on seeds and raised all those tomatoes, I went to Bookcliff and bought a pink Caspian to replace the two I lost.
On the positive side, the cucumbers that I was waiting ever-so-(im)patiently for finally sprouted!
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
I've planted hundreds of seeds. Actually, in the last decade, I've probably planted thousands of seeds, from flowers to veggies, fruits and herbs. I should not be so surprised and pleased every time a seed sprouts and those little green leaves (or maroon, if you're planting amaranth) shoot above the ground, but I can't help myself.
If the seeds don't sprout after a few days, I'm often tempted to go poking around in the dirt, just to see what's happening. I resist the temptation, telling myself to be patient and that the seeds will sprout when conditions are right. I manage to convince myself that the seeds aren't going to germinate, that those carrots will not sprout, that it was too cold to plant the cucumbers or that the birds managed to eat all the beet seeds.
After planting seeds, I watch a spot, checking every day to see if anything sprouts.
Lo and behold, they do... and every time, I'm amazed. Btw, if you're planting carrots, (like the little sprouts in this photo) be sure and water often. I've learned by trial and error (mostly error when my carrots had such lousy germination rates) be sure and water a little bit every day until they sprout. Carrot seeds like to be kept moist.
The funning thing is that I've got plenty of stuff growing in my garden that I didn't plant - or at least that I didn't plant this year. The plants manage to re-seed themselves all over the place, with no help whatsoever from me, like this red mustard.
God has been perfecting this growing thing for a long time. I really should accept that he knows what he's doing.