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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A double dose of deliciousness

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I was in foodie heaven last night. Got home late, went out to the garden and picked a boatload of kale, some peas and some mint. (I had more peas than what are in this photo - these are the ones we didn't eat.) While my husband grilled some pork chops, I roasted the kale and tried a new recipe for the peas (which called for the mint).


The results were truly delish. Roasted kale has become one of our favorite things to eat in the summer and the peas were equally tasty. I meant to take photo of them before we ate, but because it was late and we were hungry, the photo didn’t stand a chance. Both were incredibly simple to make.

Roasted kale
Kale, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes
Cut the stem off the kale. Spray a large cooking sheet w/non-stick spray. Toss the kale with the olive oil and spices. Roast at 350 degrees until it’s brown and crispy (maybe 5 or 10 minutes). May have to turn the leaves over to brown both sides

Sautéed peas with mint
Peas, olive oil, 3 cloves garlic, salt, pepper, 3 tbsp chopped mint
Saute peas and garlic in olive oil for 3 – 4 minutes. Long enough to cook slightly, but don’t let them get overdone. When done, toss with salt & pepper and chopped mint.

If you’ve got a garden and you haven’t planted kale, you need to repent and change your ways. Seriously, it’s the most ridiculously easy thing to grow. Although it’s supposed to be a cold weather plant, it doesn’t mind our heat and produces all summer as long as you keep cutting and don’t let it go to seed.

For all the eagle-eyed gardeners perusing this, yes, that is  lettuce growing with the kale. I have no idea how it got there. 








As for the peas, it’s probably too late to plant any more now. This year, I tried 3 different kinds. Although I like the yellow climbing ones for their looks, I think my favorite for taste is one I got from Park Seed.














It’s called Norli snow pea. Unfortunately, it appears to be done blooming and making any more peas for me.  At least every plant produces plenty of peas. 



I also planted some Sugar Ann peas, which are still blooming and making new peas. I didn't take a pic of those, so you'll have to use your imagination. Those are the ones I'm sharecropping for the Man. Or the Woman, actually. Lynn bought me the seeds and asked me to grow them for her, so we share the bounty. 


Marvelous mallow

By Penny Stine
Monday, June 6, 2011

I’ve been trying to establish a wildflower area out by our mailbox for a decade. It’s still an ongoing process, but it’s finally looking the way I envisioned it when I first scattered the packet of wildflower seeds.

Happily, the grass killer I blogged about earlier in the spring worked! While it did a splendid job eliminating the pesky grass, it didn’t touch any of the flowers or the strawberries. It didn’t touch the weeds, either, but they blend in. Sort of.


I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of perennials, trying to find ones that thrive with infrequent watering and constant neglect. A few years ago, I discovered mallow. This is an amazing plant. I bought two tiny little plants at Bookcliff Gardens. They didn’t do much their first year, growing just a bit and blooming only at the end of the summer.
By the second year, they started spreading. Well one of them did, anyway. Originally, I bought one lavender one and one with dark purple flowers. The lavender one still doesn’t do much, but the dark purple one is already flowering. I don’t think they’ve ever bloomed quite so early.

And they spread all by themselves! How cool is that?




I never used to do much with flowers, but decided to add a few  to my vegetable garden last year. Now I realize that blooming flowers are better than therapy for me and love the way it looks, especially early in the summer when squash, beans, melons and tomatoes are tiny.


Speaking of vegetable gardens, check out this blog from Julie, who works in the Sentinel's online department. She may not be a dirty gardener, but she recognizes a good garden when she sees one. 


Cool flower pots

By Penny Stine
Friday, June 3, 2011

I was out taking photos for Real Estate Weekly this afternoon when I drove by someone's yard and spied their flowers. The homeowners were out working in the yard, so I stopped and asked if I could take a picture. I love the non-traditional flower pot (AKA the wheelbarrow) that was on one side of the front porch and the collection of pots on the other. 

For me personally, I like flower arrangements that are whimsical and bright rather than matchy-matchy and perfectly manicured. 


GG’s asparagus

By Laurena Mayne Davis
Thursday, June 2, 2011

When I was in junior high, my mom, my little brother and I moved into Grandpa and Grandma’s little basement apartment on East Orchard Mesa while my father was stationed overseas for a year.

It was quite a change from Jamestown, N.D., where we’d endured the previous frozen four years.

My brother and I traded ice skates and snowmobile suits for tennis shoes and shorts, and we freeranged all over the desert, orchards and canals. My grandma was a fun companion and a real outdoorswoman. She was happiest hiking for hours, searching for arrowheads or geodes.

Spring evenings we’d grab City Market bags and paring knives and roam the orchards and ditchbanks, looking for asparagus. I couldn’t believe it. Here was a paradise where you could just walk around and lop off food growing in the wild.

Everyone will tell you, and it’s true, that there’s not near the amount of wild asparagus there used to be. So I knew if I wanted a steady supply of succulent spring asparagus like I had in my youth, I was going to have to grow my own.

Step One was to find asparagus. I got an itchy planting finger starting in March. Too early. Mount Garfield Greenhouse eventually hooked me up with two varieties: Jersey Hybrid and Martha Washington.







Step Two was to dig a trench. And I mean a TRENCH. It’s only a slight exaggeration that it looks like my neighbor’s home is about to be consumed in this photo.











Step Three was to spread out the roots, which remind me of “Predator” dreadlocks, and bury them in the trench.


Since then half a dozen delicate tendrils have sprouted, and just the other day I spotted one wild stand of asparagus in the bottom of our field. My grandma went by “GG” in her later years, acknowledging her most-recent title: Great-Grandma. When we harvest asparagus, whether wild or tame, it will always be GG’s asparagus to us.


Survivor: Grand Junction

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I’ve noticed that most of my tomatoes are big fans of Gloria Gaynor. Every day when I take my garden stroll, I can almost hear them singing, “I will survive.”

They went from tiny and helpless to green and growing.







Well, most of them, anyway. I have one sungold hybrid tomato that hasn’t decided whether life in a pot on the patio is worth living.


Likewise, my pepper seedlings haven’t made their mind up, either. For the most part, they’re still where I planted them, but they haven’t taken off. I was hoping that we’d get an entire week of temps in the 80s and everything would grow a foot.
It’s already Wednesday and the peppers are still in a holding pattern. Unless the hybrid early season peppers undergo a complete transformation, I don’t think they’ll produce peppers in 45 days like the Park Seed catalog promised.


On a positive note, I used compost from my own bin (since I don't have any critters making compost for me like Laurena)  when I planted this year and now I have tiny tomatillos and amaranth sprouting in many places I wasn't planning on growing them. Guess it’s true that home compost bins don’t get hot enough to kill seeds.

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