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.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I discovered this year that tomatillos love the Grand Valley. We must have the perfect combination of soil, sunshine and growing season to make them deliriously happy.
My tomatillos were so happy they grew far bigger than I ever imagined, spreading far beyond their planting beds, overshadowing unsuspecting herbs and pepper plants and producing so many tomatillos that I ended up picking a huge bowl of them every weekend to make green salsa.
I probably made at least 35 pints of green salsa. I also canned at least 8 quarts of a stewed tomatillo mixture that included tomatillos, corn, roasted green chiles, squash, onions and garlic. I canned tomatoes and tomatillos together. I used tomatillos for green sauce in chilaquiles, enchiladas and pasta. I used tomatillo salsa as currency to trade for juicy red tomatoes.
Although I really wanted to use every last one, I just couldn’t. When we went on vacation, I took my brother an overflowing grocery sack full of tomatillos. When we came home from vacation, I picked another sack of tomatillos and took them to work to give away, since they didn’t freeze completely while we were gone. And then did it twice more before I finally pulled the plants out. I had to take a picture of the last basketful of tomatillos from my garden:
Of course, tiny little tomatillos fell to the ground all over my gardens and I threw the pulled plants (with more tiny little tomatillos attached) in my compost bin, which means I could have tomatillos sprouting everywhere next year. But I will be ruthless and not allow them to live where I do not deliberately plant them.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I’ll dig up a buried treasure in my new garden space and get a visit from the queen of England, too, who will be coming to borrow two cups of chopped tomatillos to try a new recipe. It’s always nice to dream…
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Monday, November 8, 2010
Penny Stine, queen bee of the Let’s Get Dirty bloggers, asked us to reflect on our gardening efforts from this season and write about what we plan to do differently in 2011.
As I was yanking out stubborn tomato stumps over the weekend, I outlined a three-prong approach. We’ll use the pitchfork in Grant Wood’s 1930 “American Gothic” for illustration purposes:
(Did you know the farmer was modeled after Wood’s dentist and the woman — spinster daughter? younger wife? It's a matter of some debate — after Wood’s sister? Lots of interesting background available at the Art Institute of Chicago, if you’re curious.)
Prong One: Soil. I will make it better for the plants’ sake and at the weeds’ expense. I mulch with straw and wood chips; I will mulch more. I compost now; I will compost more.
Prong Two: Commitment. After a dozen years of gardening at this house, I’m finally ready to commit to perennials. Heretofore I moved things around every year and disked up the entire plot every fall. Now I’m ready to stand down on disking in some areas for a permanent home for rhubarb, asparagus and strawberries.
Prong Three: Watering. This is related to my commitment-phobia of the previous entry. Disking doesn’t work with water lines. I’ve had open ditches. I’ve had sprinklers, and I’m tired of slogging through the mud and dragging around 100-foot hoses. There will be pop-ups. There will be drip lines. There will be the breaking of this news to my handyman husband sometime soon.
By Penny Stine
Thursday, November 4, 2010
My gardens all get too much shade, which is why I have three different garden areas in various parts of my yard, all planted in search of the elusive sunshine. The one interesting thing about a shady garden is that produce takes a long, long time to ripen and you end up eating things out of season.
Remember the watermelon that grew on my gate? I meant to pick it before I left for vacation, but forgot to do it. The result was I picked it on November 1 (it survived the frost) and we ate it on November 2. How cool is that to be eating home-grown watermelon in November? This is a yellow doll variety. I got the seeds from Bookcliff Gardens and even though I need to find a sunnier spot for it next year (which is why I'm killing more grass and turning more of my front yard into garden) it was a definite success. Extremely juicy and sweet in a nice compact little melon.
True, it would have been better to eat it when it was a million degrees outside, but I'll take what I can get.
By Penny Stine
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
I was on vacation last week, but the night before we left, before I could actually pack for vacation, I had pick the last of anything that was still standing in the garden, since the weatherman predicted a freeze while we were gone. I got three baskets full of green tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, rosemary, broccoli, green peppers, red peppers, swiss chard, habaneros and butternut squash.
We had leftover chili that we could have eaten, but when my husband, the chef, saw all the fresh produce, he whipped up a batch of risotto from everything I brought in from the garden and whatever was still in the fridge. The result was beyond yummy. His ristotto had a little bacon, some ham, onions, garlic, rosemary, basil, tomatoes, dried tomatoes, Swiss chard and who knows what else. (I certainly don't, 'cuz I was picking tomatillos while he was making risotto)
I took my brother in Wyoming a gigantic bag full of tomatillos, put the green tomatoes in a brown grocery sack to ripen while we were gone and put everything else that didn't go in the risotto in the refrigerator to eat after we got back. Although my practice was usually to eat whatever I picked the day I picked it, I realize that most produce that I buy in the middle of winter was probably picked several days (or even a week) before it goes into my shopping cart and eventually onto my table.
I thought that would be the end of my garden. It wasn't, but more on that for another blog.
By Carol Clark
Thursday, October 28, 2010
One of those great mysteries in life:
What is the difference between apple juice and apple cidar?
Inquiring minds want to know.
Years ago I had this question answered on a field trip to Talbott farms. Which, by the way, is a GREAT field trip to take your kids on this time of year.
While the huge billows squeezed every bit of juice out of bushels of apples, the farmer explained - there is really NO difference. It's mostly marketing, at least in Colorado, where it's technically illegal to sell apple cider.
Apple cider is just apple juice that hasn't been pasturized. Unpasturized cider ferments and becomes Applejack over time which can give you a little kick when you drink too much. Which might be the perfect way to get those kids to sleep earlier in the evening.
It's the sweet, simple things in life which are the real ones after all.
-Laura Ingalls Wilder