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 email@example.com.
By Penny Stine
Monday, August 29, 2011
Although I was hoping I’d grow enough green beans to make dilly beans, my beans did not get the memo and have not been producing enough. But my friend, Jan of the awesome garden, convinced me that it would be OK to buy beans to make them. So we did.
Jan bought the beans and the garlic from Z’s Orchard at the Saturday farmers market in Teller Arms and we canned dilly beans on Sunday. Jan bought half a bushel of green beans, which made a lot of dilly beans. We both had enough cucumbers to make a vat of refrigerator dills, so we decided to do that, too.
We picked all the dill that was still standing in my garden. (How did dill and cucumbers ever get paired together? My dill is always at its peak in June or July and cucumbers and green beans don’t show up until August.)
I found a recipe on cooks.com that I liked, although I wasn’t sure how much dill a dill head was. Jan didn’t know, either, but we entertained ourselves for the entire afternoon by calling each other dill heads.
Now comes the hard part. The refrigerator pickle recipe says to wait 10 days to eat them and the dilly beans recipe said to wait 6 - 8 weeks!
FYI, that's not a cinnamon stick in the dill pickles - it's a Chinese red noodle bean. We discovered they change color when they're cooked, so we didn't want to include them in the processed dilly beans. Since refrigerator pickles aren't cooked when processed, the red beans stay red when stuffed in the jar of pickles. We also added onions and more garlic, because pickled onions & garlic are da' bomb. Especially if your significant other eats them, too, and isn't offended by your pickled garlicky onion breath.
By Erin McIntyre
Friday, August 26, 2011
Bob Korver is the kind of guy who likes to step out his back door, pick a tomato and eat it for lunch. Now you can pick those gorgeous tomatoes in Bob’s backyard, too.
Bob and his wife, Elaine, started Green Acres U-Pick at 3601 G Road this year after Bob retired from his career as an English teacher and counselor. He mostly grew up on small farms and turned his summer gardening hobby into a business.
To start, the Korvers planted produce they knew they would love to eat. They weren’t sure what veggies would be in high demand, so this year is kind of an experiment. One customer bought 20 eggplants at once. They actually sold out of onions, which was a big surprise.
He considers the 25 varieties of tomatoes he planted an exercise in restraint, considering that there are more than 750 varieties out there. Five kinds of watermelons wind their way down the rows, including the Moon and Stars variety, which could grow melons weighing up to 40 pounds each.
This fall, you can peruse his seven varieties of pumpkins and maybe experiment with grinding your own Hopi Blue or Bloody Butcher corn. And hopefully next spring there will be thousands of strawberries waiting to be plucked from the 4,000 berry plants growing this year. In the meantime, you can also browse the lavender test site where Korver is trying to determine if lavender can be grown as a row crop here in the Grand Valley.
Deep down, Korver loves gardening but he’s also still an educator. He would like to see more families and children come out to the farm. “I would love for kids to see where their food comes from,” he said. “We’ve lost a connection to our food when it just comes from the grocery store.”
All of Green Acres’ produce is grown without pesticides or herbicides.
Of course, this means investing more elbow grease and sweat at Green Acres U-Pick. You can almost taste all the work that went into it in those luscious tomatoes.
Green Acres U-Pick is on Facebook and is open from 8 am to 7 pm. It’s a good idea to call Bob ahead of time at 640-2010 to make sure it’s not too muddy to pick and see what’s available.
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Friday, August 26, 2011
My 13-year-old daughter Piper has a real interest in photography. She particularly loves flowers and has made a study of macro shots. Last year I posted some of her work.
As part of her recent bedroom redecoration (bye-bye little-girl fairy theme), Piper wanted to showcase some of her flower photos. She found a practical and inexpensive solution in making a photo collage at Snapfish.com for about $12.
Snapfish offers four different sizes of collages, with up to 30 photos, starting at $8.99 for an 11-by-14 inch poster. Other photo labs have similar products. If you have some lovely garden photography of your own, this is one way to enjoy it as part of your home’s décor.
Here are some of Piper’s more-recent photos, taken at the home of her Grandma Davis, whose beautiful flower beds would inspire any artist.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
When we hike in the mountains I love to search the forest floor for treasures. Sometimes it's a stick bent into an interesting shape, sometimes pinecones or flowers to dry. This year I have been amazed by all the different types of mushroom, the odd living organisms scientists don't consider plants or animals.
I would love to learn which mushrooms are edible, but I am afraid it would be the last thing I would ever eat. A man at the grocery store said he knew how to spot edible cremini mushrooms growing on the Mesa. At Seattle farmer's markets they paid $44.00 per pound for the same mushrooms.
My friend Rita has grown button mushrooms in her cellar year round for twelve years now, from the same original box of mushrooms - this seems a little safer. A wise investment if you have a cool dark place you don't mind smelling like wet manure.
It is amazing the different shapes and colors these mysterious fungi come in. Last weekend near Silver Jack Reservoir I spotted these two mushrooms growing out of the ground. At first I thought they were Ptarmigan eggs, since we kept seeing these cute baby birds following their mothers. But I soon found another obvious mushroom coming out of the ground nearby.
These red spotted mushrooms that I found on Crag Crest trail remind me of the kind you see in nursery books with little people living in them.
I wonder how much it needs to rain for a mushroom to grow out of a rock!?!
Amazingly, some live entirely on trees.
One day, hiking through the forest, I found this mystery. At first I thought it was a melted candy bar someone dropped, but as I looked closer it looked like something living although I didn't want to touch it in case it was poisonous. There was no water to wash my hands with and I didn't want to ruin it with a stick. Later, I looked online and could never find any mushroom remotely like this. What do you think, melted candy or a living neither plant nor animal fungi?
“The Smurfs are little blue people who live in magic mushrooms. Think about it.”
By Penny Stine
Monday, August 22, 2011
Whitney Houston may have sang, "How will I know if he really loves me?" but I've got more important questions. Like, how do I know when this melon is ripe?
These cute little melons are called tigger melons and they're supposed to be orange with yellow stripes when ripe. Last year was the first year I successfully grew a couple of watermelons, and I was truly horrible at knowing when to pick them. Is there a rule of thumb for knowing when a melon is ripe?
I didn't think these melons were supposed to be so small. Not exactly big enough to take along on a picnic, but they are pretty cute.