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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Mystery tomato

By Penny Stine
Monday, August 8, 2016

So I have this unknown tomato growing in my garden. I honestly have no idea what kind of tomato it is, since I didn’t plant anything that was supposed to look like this.

In case you can’t tell by the shape, this looks to me like a classic oxheart tomato variety. And I didn’t plant any classic oxheart tomato varieties. It's also huge, although I haven't taken a tape measure out to the garden, I'm guessing it's at least four or five inches long. 

I did, however, plant a bunch of different types of heirloom varieties in several different colors, so I’ll wait to see what color this turns, although color alone won’t tell me what it is. I’ve got at least two with big oxheart tomatoes, so I’m rather curious.

In the meantime, the entire front quarter of my west garden has turned into a tomato jungle. There are also sweet pepper plants out there, a squash plant, some melons and raspberry bushes. Wish me luck when I venture out there to find ripe tomatoes! I’m sure I’ll miss any that are down low, since I can’t see very well through the jungle and it's a little hard to wade my way out there to pick.  


Peaches on my tree

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, August 3, 2016

I planted a dwarf Red Haven peach tree about three or four years ago. It’s an odd shape because one of the main branches froze the first winter I had it, so I encouraged a side branch to grow. The weight of the peaches is dragging down all of the branches.

Last year was the first year it had any fruit (about 30 peaches), and the birds ate every last peach on the tree.

This year, it had tons of little green peaches on it and I have thinned at least three times. It’s still pretty loaded for such a little tree. My peaches are quite a bit smaller than the ones I've been buying from Palisade, and I don't know if it's because my tree is so tiny, I didn't thin enough, or they're just not ready to pick. 

I tied the reflective strips in the branches, which I got at Wild Birds Unlimited, in an effort to keep the birds from eating the peaches. So far, it’s working, but the peaches aren’t quite ripe.

I realized this morning, however, that I’m not really sure how to tell when they are ripe. I read something that said you could smell them when they’re ready to pick, and that they should also be a little soft to the touch. So far, the peaches aren’t smelling delicious and they’re hard as rocks. I'm hoping that they will also grow to be at least twice the size they are now, but I don't think that's realistic.  

I think I need to check on an almost-daily basis at this point, however, especially if I want to beat the birds.  


Hot August bed

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Every yard has problem areas and mine is no exception. This is a corner of my garden that gets shade until noonish and then it bakes in the afternoon and setting sun.
I planted beets in the back bed, closest to the property line, in the springtime, hoping they’d enjoy the cool nights and warm afternoons. I think I had two germinate.
I have tomatillos that do really well in the bed closest to the driveway. I planted them one year and they re-seed themselves every other year, which is my kind of gardening. They don't mind the baking heat of July and August.
I got some raspberry bushes established, and while the bushes are growing like gangbusters and don’t seem to mind the afternoon heat, they’re not producing any raspberries. At all. I’ve been fertilizing like crazy and am giving them one more chance to change their ways and give me a fall crop of berries. If I don’t get any, it’s Roundup for the raspberries.

There's also a couple of potato plants that I planted in the spring, and they're kind of holding their own, but aren't really thriving. 

Unfortunately, weeds do really well in the space, so I have to get in there periodically and pull everything.
After realizing that the beets weren’t going to grow, I ignored the space and let the weeds take over, then I felt bad, so I pulled all the weeds and wanted to try to grow something that would thrive in the hot, hot, hot conditions in the afternoon. I saw pumpkin seeds at Bookcliff, so I decided to see if I could get one to grow in the time we have left before it freezes. I think I planted them in mid-July, and the package says 100 days to harvest, but we all know that seed packages are unreliable at best, especially in conditions that are less than ideal.
Even if it doesn’t have enough time to produce this year, I’m thinking this might be a good corner for a rambling type of squash/melon/pumpkin that will thrive in the heat next year. It’s kind of sad (or exciting, depending on your perspective) that I’m already planning my 2017 garden…  


Suyo snakes

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Good thing I don’t have green snakes in my yard…

This is one of the Suyo Long cucumbers. The plants are also climbing up the trellis, which is supposed to make them straighter, but the tiny ones on the trellis are also curved and snaky.

At least they taste good, not as cucumbery as traditional cukes, but they have a good crunch.   


July cucumbers

By Penny Stine
Friday, July 22, 2016

I planted three different types of cucumbers from seed this year, Suyo long, Sir Crunch a-lot and Marketmore. I ordered the first two from catalogs, but picked up the Marketmore at a hardware store when I realized the bugs every every single cucumber I planted on my front cucumber trellis. They then proceeded to eat all the Marketmore ones, too. I have one more cucumber plant in a flower pot, and I can’t remember what kind it is.

The bugs didn’t find the Suyo long, which are growing on the trellis in the photo. There’s also a morning glory on the trellis that came up on its own. The last (and only) time I planted morning glory in that spot was probably six or seven years ago. I recognized it and thought it would be pretty on the trellis, so I let it stay there this year. It does look good in the morning.

The Suyo long cucumber plants are supposed to be extremely prolific, producing cukes that are never bitter and last all season long, so the reviews say. I had three on the vine, and although they’re supposed to routinely reach 12 to 18 inches, I was curious and tasted the first one when it was only six or seven inches long. It was bitter, and I was so disappointed.
I mean, every other cucumber plant died, I’ve got these Suyos thriving, but producing nasty cucumbers! I decided to let the other two on the plant get a little bigger and try again later. The catalog said to plant them on a trellis if you wanted straight cucumbers. I planted mine near a trellis, but am not getting straight cucumbers, even from the vines that are growing on the trellis. 

Can you see the bright green cucumber curving around the pepper plant in the photo?




I’m happy to say that when I tasted the one I picked last night, it wasn’t bitter at all. It didn’t have the crisp crunchiness of other cucumbers, but it wasn’t mushy, either.

And even though it was probably 10 to 12 inches long, I think I picked it a little too early. I’m going to let the other one remain on the vine for another few days before I pick it. I saw that the plants are forming lots of little cucumbers, so I’m hoping they remain sweet.  

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