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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The $64 Tomato

By Carol Clark
Monday, July 12, 2010

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
-Lewis Gizzard

Need an entertaining book to read while you wait for those tomatoes to ripen? Want to learn about gardening while laughing out-loud? Read, "The $64 Tomato", by William Alexander.

"How one man nearly lost his sanity, spent a fortune and endured an existential crisis in the quest for the perfect garden."

The $64 Tomato - Book Cover


You may not want to read this book if:

1. You are gardening to save money.

2. You are planning on expanding your garden to include two-thousand square feet.

3. You don't enjoy reading hilarious books.

You can order this book and thousands of others on gardening free from The Mesa County Public Library. Just go online to mcpld.org and click on the search books button and search the Marmot Global system. The library will have the book delivered to the library of your choice for you to pickup when it is available.

The book also has a few recipes. I am just waiting for my first tomatos to ripen to try this one.

Caprese Pasta

Serves 4

30 fresh basil leaves, washed
1 lb medium shells or other pasta
4 or 5 heirloom or other vine-ripened tomatoes, about 2 lbs.
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Go out to the garden or farmstand and pick 4 or 5 of the ripest good-size tomatoes you can find and about 30 leaves of basil. If you have parsley, grab a few springs.

2. Start a large pot of boiling, salted water. Slice each tomato in half across the equator and, over the sink, scoop out most of the seeds with your fingers. Don't worry about getting all of the seeds out. Chop the tomatoes to medium dice and place in a colander for a couple of minutes to drain the excess liquid. Transfer the tomatoes to a bowl. Chop the basil and parsley.

3. Cook the pasta. We use medium shells for this dish, because they hold the thin sauce nicely. While the pasta is cooking, slice the mozzarella into 3/8" cubes. Grate the Romano.

4. Smash a clove of garlic and saute very gently in 1/4 cup of olive oil over low heat. Take care not to brown the garlic. Remove the garlic and add the warm oil to the tomatoes. Add the basil and toss.

5. When your pasta is almost cooked, season tomatoes with a pinch or two of kosher salt and pepper. (If you add the salt too soon, the tomatoes will render too much juice.)

6. When the pasta is cooked al dente, drain quickly (do not rinse) and return to pot, off the heat. Add the tomato mixture and mozzarella. Mix well and cover tightly. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir again. The heat of the pasta should have partially melted the mozzarella. Spoon into pasta bowls. Sprinkle with parsly and half of the Romano over top and serve with remainder of Romano.


Piper flowers

By Laurena Mayne Davis
Monday, July 12, 2010

There are no pampered rose beds or prize dahlias in my garden. Someday there may be, but now my limited free time is spent raising food. With three growing kids, we need all the fresh fruits and vegetables we can get.

Because any flowers must survive without much of my involvement, those that do are a hardy, common crew. Nothing exotic about a bachelor button, trumpet vine or hollyhock. Yet I have my daughter Piper to thank for opening my eyes to how truly lovely these humble blooms can be.

Piper, now 12, has been interested in photography since she could hold a camera. For the past year she has been doing a photo study of macro shots of flowers. She’s learned that lighting is all-important, and that the tiniest insect or raindrop can add drama.

And I’ve learned that making time to weed flowers has a reward all its own.

Here are some of Piper’s flowers:

      Bachelor Button





                                                                      Trumpet vine



Editor's note:  These photos are beautiful!  Have a favorite? 

Mine is the zinnia.


A gardening happy ending

By Melinda Mawdsley
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gardening is full of humbling failures.

This is not one of those stories.

This entry is about my amazing basil.

Earlier in the spring, my editor put basil seeds on a table for everyone to share.

I know enough to know there are many different types of basil. However, I also know that I like basil.

I took some seeds, and I'm proud to say, they grew!

Point is, I knew nothing about the seeds, but I gave the seeds good soil, plenty of water and moved them in and out of the sun when they were little.

I have learned the value in sharing seeds with people.

Now? I expanded my palate after I sauteed my vegetables in oil and lemon basil the other night.

(I'm pretty sure it's lemon basil because it smells and tastes like lemon.)


Mom’s Swiss Chard

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I visited my parents in Nebraska over the 4th of July. In spite of the fact that Mom turned 75 this spring, she still maintains a huge garden and has several fruit trees. She cans, freezes, pickles and preserves just about everything that she grows, and was disappointed when a late freeze claimed all of the fruit on her trees this year.
When I asked my mom how her garden was this year, she replied, “Terrible.”
Then I went outside for a look-see. If Mom’s garden is terrible, mine ranks somewhere far below horrifically awful. And I didn’t think mine was doing too badly.

Check out these pics:
Mom’s Swiss chard:

This is my mom's chard - It's a beautiful thing!

You can’t tell by looking at the photo, but Mom’s Swiss chard was about 18 inches tall, with gigantic leaves that looked like elephant ears.

My swiss chard:

This is my Swiss Chard - Not so beautiful!

Mine’s about six inches tall and bug-eaten.

The only thing that looked better in my garden was the dill, but that’s only because she considers it a weed and has been pulling it out. Our peas look similar, but hers didn’t taste good, so score one for Western Colorado.
Oh, and my mom's garden was virtually weed-free. We spent about 40 minutes outside weeding on Sunday and eradicated them from every inch of her garden... and her garden is huge. 


Earth laughs in flowers

By Carol Clark
Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Earth laughs in flowers"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Breckenridge, Colorado, (unlike Breckenridge, Texas), the perfect place to spend a summer day away from the heat. We hiked up and down busy streets, spent way too much money in expensive shops, and took dozens of photos of brightly colored flowers that plastered the streets. They are all over this adorable mountain town and so vibrant with 72 degree afternoons and frequent rain showers.

Referred by a local, we ate lunch at "Fatty's". My husband, Olan, stepped right into the restaurant and asked the host if he was the head fatty. Surprisingly, he led us to a table instead of asking us to leave. We had the most amazing lunch while watching the FIFA World Cup. The game was getting exciting and the waitress irritated, so we had to order more drinks, (a frosty Mud Slide that was more like an ice cream float complete with whipped cream and a cherry). This may explain why they named this place "Fatty's".

At any rate, if you want to get out of the heat and see flowers that are not sun scorched, I highly recommend Breckenridge and remember to visit "Fatty's"..
Two tickets to paradise! 

Page 106 of 111


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