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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Learning about flood irrigation

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A neighbor’s irrigation cistern was overflowing the other day, which happens a lot when you live in a neighborhood with an old irrigation system, no HOA and every homeowner responsible for the ditch at their home. This cistern feeds a house on the street behind my house, so there’s an underground pipe that runs through my yard to their lot.
The overflowing cistern didn’t cause any problems for the neighbor who actually owns the cistern, since his house is too far away from the flood, but it created quite a river in my yard and garden. It also created a mud pond in the neighbor’s house next door.
It was the second time in three days for the river in the garden, so my plants all got a nice good soak. After the first time, I assumed it would be the only time, so I decided to make good use of all that moist soil and plant a few seeds in bare spots where something either didn’t come up or it came up but got eaten by bugs. Needless to say, I’m sure those seeds flowed downriver during the second flood and may come up in my neighbor’s mud pond once it dries out a bit.
Fortunately, the neighbor with the mud pond was able to open up the cistern and clean it out. He found a root ball and a 2X4 that were blocking the flow of water. Yes, a 2X4, which makes a mighty fine dam in a little bitty irrigation pit. As soon as he moved them both, the water level dropped and the river quit flowing through my garden.
Other than losing a few seeds, it really didn’t cause any damage, and in fact, with as hot as it’s supposed to get this weekend, it probably did my plants good to get such a good soak. I've had a hard time getting that compost bin in the pic wet enough to help the grass, leaves and branches actually decompose, so I'm sure the soaking at the ground didn't hurt that, either. 

My tomato plants certainly look happy. Some of them have caught up to the big plants I bought from the store, and I think a few might have even gotten bigger. I’ve got blossoms on several, but no tomatoes yet.
There are a couple places in the garden where the floodwaters didn’t reach, so the plants in those spots look parched and dry, gasping for a little moisture. Meanwhile, the soil is still damp everywhere else.
As you can tell by all the photos, the weeds are ridiculously happy. They grow really well with flood irrigation. I went out and pulled 10 gallons of weeds the other day, but you couldn’t tell. At all.
Dang weeds.  

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Get your pea-picking hands busy while peas are still there

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sometime I wonder why I continue to grow peas. Granted, these are looking mighty fine and I was able to pick enough to cook them as a tasty side dish, with garlic scape, mint and mushrooms, but there’s a very limited season for peas here in the Grand Valley.
As I was picking peas yesterday, I was disappointed to discover that they’re not setting more blooms. I think in spite of our wet, cool May and early June, it’s already gotten a little too hot for them. So I’ll be able to pick a few more times and then they’ll be done.
In spite of the short harvest season, peas are fun because they give gardeners something fresh from the garden early in the summer, while we’re still waiting for the cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes to take off and grow.
My sister in Laramie, Wyo. can grow peas all summer long. Of course, she can’t grow tomatoes, cukes and peppers at all. If given the choice between tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers vs. peas, I’ll take the reduced pea season.
This is the garlic scape that grows here every summer because I don’t actually dig these bulbs. I planted them from seed that my mom gave me several years ago, which you’re not supposed to do. The bulbs are just one medium-sized round ball of garlic, rather than a bulb with a bunch of cloves. So I just let them stay there and give me scapes in early summer.
I started my dish with sautéed mushrooms and onions, added the garlic scapes and peas, then topped it off with a couple of tablespoons of chopped mint, as well as a little bit of sauce made with soy sauce, turmeric, blackberry ginger balsamic vinegar and a dab of hoisin sauce. My hubby thought they were a bit on the sweet side, but I thought they were perfect.  

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Poor confused mums

By Penny Stine
Monday, June 8, 2015

No, I'm not writing in a British style and talking about women who have given birth, I'm talking about flowers. Do you see that tree with the plants underneath? I selected bulbs from elsewhere in my yard, as well as some daisies that needed dividing and a few mums for fall color when I planted flowers under the tree last year. 

 

Notice I said mums for fall color. Every mum I've ever grown, including these that I transplanted from somewhere else, has bloomed in the fall.These ones must not have gotten the memo. Perhaps its a confirmation of our cool, wet spring that these are getting ready to bloom. 

 

 

 

I hope it's not an indication that summer's over. I'll be really sad if we go from cool, wet spring to long, drawn-out fall.

 

 

Perhaps it's just the effects of transplanting them to a new spot. Regardless of what made them decide to bloom now, I'm sure they'll add some nice color to my front yard when they open up with full bloom.

 

 

I am curious to see how long they'll last - usually, my mums start blooming much later, in August or September, and continue blooming until they're covered in snow. 

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Need inspiration? Go play golf

By Penny Stine
Friday, June 5, 2015

My husband and I played nine holes of golf last weekend at Tiara Rado Golf Course, which is my absolute favorite local golf course. The proximity and views of the monument are awe-inspiring, of course, but the real reason it's my favorite is the flowers. 

Technically, it's not just the flowers, but all the plants on the tee boxes, as well as the ones near the clubhouse and in all sorts of hidden pockets that make it such a beautiful course. The trees are mature, too, which is always nice. 

It's a great place to go if you need ideas about what to plant, or what types of plants will look good together. In some areas, the horticulturalist chose low water-use plants, so it's also a great place to go if you want ideas about tearing out lawn and putting in perennials. 

There are culinary herbs planted at several tee boxes, and at one, I noticed basil, rosemary, kale and tomatoes! I think it's cool that someone (whoever it is at the city parks department - I called to give him or her credit by name, but didn't get an answer yet) is including culinary herbs, as well as veggies in the landscape plan. For the home gardener, incorporating veggies into flower beds is a great way to grow a little bit of food that tastes delicious and looks cool, too. I didn't take a pic of the tee box with the tomatoes because by then, my husband and I had joined up with the twosome ahead of us and I didn't want to be accused of slowing the pace of play. 

I think this is a pic of the tee box at hole No. 3, although it could be No. 4. I haven't played the back nine as much, and since they reconfigured a lot of it a few years ago, I don't think the landscape is as mature and established as the front nine, but it's still beautiful. 

The city has also done a good job with plant selections at the new public safety building downtown, the Horizon Drive exit off Interstate 70 and many of the public places in town. 

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Happy plants

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Look at these lovely pea plants. Aren't they the happiest you've seen all day? They're blooming like crazy, and I didn't even notice when I was out taking this photo yesterday that there are peas starting to form. In fact, by the looks of them in this photo, they'll be ready to pick in a couple of days. 

What a difference a pack of poop makes. Last year, I couldn't get anything to grow along this fence line. I dumped quite a bit of alpaca poop in this bed and worked it in before I planted the peas. I'm pretty happy with the results. 

Since the peas will be done once it gets consistently hot, I planted these squash plants next to the peas. They look pretty happy, too. I can't remember if this is lemon squash or if this is spaghetti squash, but I am fairly certain it's one or the other... I planted them here so they could climb the fence if they wanted.

I'm not sure whether I prefer the Alaska fish fertilizer or the alpaca poop, but I do know that both of them are doing wonders for my garden. 

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