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.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
There is nothing better than a bucket of rotting garbage, especially when flowers are blooming in it.
I was surprised when I went to add scraps to the kitchen compost bucket and there was a beautiful blooming radish.
Strangly enough, it has been amazing watching my garbage turn into rich soil. We started an outside compost heap in a plastic trash barrel last year by drilling holes in the side every couple of inches. The lid snaps on and we simply roll it every time we add to it. We keep adding, and adding, and adding and it never gets full as billions of tiny micro organisms feed, grow, reproduce and die.
Since we put our coffee grounds and banana peels into the heap, we are adding rich nutrients from all over the world that will eventually benefit new garden plants.
There is something about turning your scraps back into the earth that it originally came from that is satisfying. Decaying matter bringing new life. It's the circle of life.
He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear, Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Sorry for the cutesy alliteration, I just can’t help myself. Gardening makes me corny. (I’m powerless to stop the puns, too.)
I know I blogged about these walking onions a month or so ago, but they’re so cool, I had to take another picture.
I’ve been judiciously harvesting them – plucking a few bulbs growing mid-stem and chopping some of the greens. Yesterday, I buried one of the tiny bulbs in a different planting bed in hopes of starting more onions.
This bed gets too much shade for most veggies. I had some garlic in there that didn’t do the cool garlic thing. Rather than grow and curl, it just seemed to die. Then I noticed a little tiny garlic bulb poking above the dirt and remembered that the time to harvest some root/bulb crops is when the top portion begins to die.
Another Doh! moment brought to you by a Dirty Gardener.
As you can see by the pic, there are several dead-looking garlic plants to dig.
This is the cool garlic thing going on in a sunnier spot in my garden. So even though the bed was too shady for the garlic scape curl, I dug the bulb anyway anyway.
True, it’s an itsy-bitsy bulb, but it’s my first garlic ever. Of course, I didn’t realize my garlic in the garden was ready to pick and just bought some at the grocery store over the weekend.
Since my husband and I use garlic like some people use salt, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Tiny garlic bulbs and tip-toeing onions are better than nothing in this particular bed. Maybe I’ll add a shade-loving perennial and call it good.
Although onions and garlic are a recent addition to my gardens, I've got some chives in my wildflower area that not only provide great topping for baked potatoes, they look cool when they're blooming.
Last year, I started some garlic chives in another garden. They don't look very chivish to me.
They do have a good garlic flavor, though, so maybe they've morphed into a full-flown garlic-flavored onion.
Cool! Now, if only I can get them to walk like the other onions...
By Penny Stine
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Growing lots of flowers is relatively new to me, but seeing them bloom makes me happy, so I decided to share the joy. I’ll pass on a few tips while I’m at it.
This is a penstemon (I think). It’s a perennial, so it will get larger every year. There are a bunch of different types of penstemon and they don’t look alike at all. This one has gotten quite large, and has reddish leaves so it adds color and interest even when it’s not blooming.
I think both of these are also penstemon.
I planted them too close together. I’ve seen the red one take up a three-foot square space in the yards of people who know what they’re doing and they’re quite beautiful.
I love the snapdragons in my veggie garden. I’ve read that you can cut them back to encourage blooming in the fall or you can let them dry and produce seeds where they stand. I’m hoping they reseed, because I want them back next year.
Speaking of reseeding, this is borage. I’ve heard that once you plant it, you can never get rid of it. I planted it last year and it came back this year. It will get unruly by the season’s end. The flowers are edible and taste slightly of cucumbers. An interesting addition to salads.
This is bellflower. It’s a biennial that I started last year. It didn’t bloom last year, and now I’m trying to figure out how to make it act like a perennial, because I want it back next year.
Coreopsis. Easy to grow, gets bigger every year, blooms for a long time. It doesn't get a lot of water where it's planted, and it doesn't seem to mind. A great addition to the raspberry patch.
The official name for this is gaillardia, but it’s also known as blanketflower. I started a bunch from seed last year and was disappointed when they didn’t get very big, nor did they bloom. This year has been a pleasant surprise because I’m finding the plants in a couple of places that I’d forgotten I put them. They should bloom all summer with very little help from me, but these two will be overshadowed by the tomatillo plant next to them by August or September.
Starting perennials from seed is great when you're on a budget and you've got enough patience to wait a year or two to see them in their full glory. It can be tricky if you don't know how big a plant has the potential to grow, so perhaps my flower power tutorial has been helpful. I'll do a July update when later season specimens start to bloom.
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Friday, June 17, 2011
See how pretty these sunflowers were last year? I save seeds and grow these Mammoth sunflowers every year, for the beautiful blooms and the abundant seeds. Boy oh boy do they make lots of seeds — so many the wild birds even quit eating them this winter and I gave the rest to the chickens. But for some reason I gave each and every seed to the chickens and didn’t save even a handful to plant. Doh!
I have had two forehead-slapping planting lapses this spring. About the time I realized I had no sunflower seeds saved, I figured out why my cucumbers hadn’t come up: I’d never planted them. I'd tilled, watered and examined for shoots, but while everything else came up around the cucumber patch, only weeds sprouted there. After trying to think back if I had planted too deeply or didn’t sow thickly enough, I realized I had no specific memory of putting seeds in the ground. Double doh!
In my defense, I do most of my gardening in the early morning hours before work and in the twilight, drowsy hours before bed, but still … at this rate, who knows what I’ll be harvesting this summer.
By Amy Hamilton
Thursday, June 16, 2011
I'll admit it. I'm not much of a gardener.
If a plant is bent on dying or some bugs find it really tasty, who am I to get in nature's way?
That's why I love growing hops. They're so easy, at least some varieties make me feel like I'm not a total plant killer.
Case in point: About three years, I planted Cascade hops at the base of a trellis in the backyard and another variety, Brewer's Gold, at a trellis in the front yard.
I planted both set of hops (or rhizomes as they're called) in a mostly compost mixture, I make sure to water them excessively and occasionally bolster up the root base with decomposed leaves or some extra dirt.
The Cascade hops have traveled nearly to the tree above the garden, about 30 feet up on jute that we connected to a branch high overhead.
Brewer's Gold hops, however, don't impress me much. They're just now starting to wind their way around a few of lower trellis rungs. I swear, I don't treat the front yard any differently than the backyard ones. They also both receive about the same amount of sunlight- probably about 6 to 8 hours a day.
Already the Cascade hop vines are showing the furry first signs of hop buds. If we can get the vines down and out of the tree by harvest time in early fall, it should be enough for a batch of beer.
Yum. Making beer from the hops is a story for a different day. But if you are so inclined, Cascade hops tend to work wonders here in our warm clime. They grow abundantly enough to make it look like even the novice garden knows what she's doing. Sometimes that's just enough of a confidence boost to tackle a whole garden full of greens.