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 Annie LeVan
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Well, the abundance has begun. We have been enjoying salads of lettuce and spinach for a while, but now the carrots are getting large enough to eat, so crunchy and sweet, and the zucchini is so tender. I have pulled up most of the peas, and the beans I planted (second round) in their shadows are about 6" tall. Proof that my careful pre-planning worked.
The eggplant will be the next to make its way to our dinner plates.
By Melinda Mawdsley
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
The time is here.
At approximately 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, July 12, I weighed the three pounds of fresh garden tomatoes that I was allowed to take home as a member of the Cameron Place CSA.
Seriously, nothing excites this produce-lover more than heirloom tomatoes. Nothing.
Keep it simple this summer. Slice up a tomato, top it with mozzarella (fresh is better but deli slices work just fine), and finish it off with one leaf of garden basil.
Also excellent is bruschetta. Get a nice baquette roll and slice to about one-inch thickness. Place the slices on a cookie sheet. Next, drizzle each slice with olive oil. In a side bowl or plastic bag, dice tomatoes and basil and stir in balsamic vinegar. Once that's all mixed, I spoon the mixture on top of the bread slices. Finish it off with a bit of mozzarella. Bake at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted to your preference. It's not like you can mess up the recipe.
And how do I finish off a nice meal of vegetable, herb and cheese?
I also got four of these Tuesday!
By Erin McIntyre
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I view hollyhocks as a bit of an oxymoronic flower. The almost exotic-looking blooms are reminiscent of hibiscus and some have double flowers, with frilly tutu-like petals. Although hollyhocks are most known for edging English cottage gardens, out West we know them as the signal pointing to the outhouse. These showy flowers thrive on neglect, don’t need much watering, and grow tall enough to lean up against the privy. Strange that such an elegant flower is a beacon for the toilet.
Hardy hollyhocks don’t mind our hot summers, clay soils or lack of precipitation, for the most part. Spires of their blooms tower over the rest of my garden. It’s wise to plant them along a fence or something else tall for a little support in case of strong winds, as they easily grow 6 feet tall. These beauties bloom mid-summer to fall here in the valley, and can overwinter (and often re-seed themselves anyway). You have to be a little patient, though, as the most hollyhock plants will not bloom the first year you plant them (there is a variety called “majorette” that is supposed to bloom the first year, but I’ve never tried growing it). I think they’re worth the wait, though, as they reward you with spectacular blooms until fall. I’ve also heard that planting hollyhocks in the fall can help you get a head start for next year, so it might be a good time to think about that now.
One of our close family friends and neighbors had an entertaining trick for turning a hollyhock flower into a hula doll with a toothpick, which my sister and I loved as children. I can’t seem to get it quite right. According to Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Service, hollyhocks are edible. I have no idea who would want to eat them – the texture is a bit repulsive with all that fuzz on the outside and the sliminess of the inside. Then again, lots of people like okra.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
I’ve planted four packets of carrot seeds. One was a multi-color pack from Bookcliff that promised to give me tasty carrots in strange colors. I can’t remember the second packet, but I know my cat was delighted with the carrot patch and decided it made a fine litter box, so those ones didn’t come up.
The third packet was for tiny globe carrot seeds. They were an heirloom variety from Bookcliff and supposed to be good. It’s been more than three weeks and not a single one came up.
I got a fourth packet of little globe carrot seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds last week as a thank you for ordering seeds. I planted some of those on Saturday, because hope springs eternal in the mind of a gardener and I’m sure that they’ll come up.
The other day, I was poking around the patch from the multi-color pack and discovered the carrots were big enough to pull. They weren’t enormous, but I remember from my mom’s garden when I was a kid that the small carrots were sometimes the sweetest.
Sadly, these carrots, while colorful, are not tasty. The white one tasted how I imagine a young sapling would taste. The yellow ones were bitter, and the purple one was boring and tasteless. I didn’t know that until after I’d cleaned them up, cut them into sticks and put them on a plate with an orange carrot from a package that had been in my fridge for weeks. Maybe even decades.
I took one bite and declared that the carrots were nasty. My husband, who didn’t know the orange one was from the fridge said, “this orange one’s pretty good.”
So much for tasty, fresh vegetables from the garden. Maybe it’s the soil, maybe it’s the shade (I gave the sunniest spots in the garden to tomatoes, melons, cucumbers, tomatillos and peppers) and maybe it’s the seeds. All I know is that I’m glad only a few of these multi-color carrots came up, because they’re a waste of valuable garden space.
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Monday, July 11, 2011
Last year my husband hastily fashioned a small cabana out of plywood and spikes to pamper the drooping green peppers and withering eggplant. The results were big, healthy plants and plump fruit.
This year, Scott went all out.
The frame is PVC sections and joints, 10 feet by 10 feet. Nothing is glued, so we can break it down at the end of the season and reconfigure any way we see fit in the future. The shade fabric is ziptied on. Spikes serve as anchors. We probably spent about $50 for everything.
With the addition of leftover pavers to weed from and chips as groundcover, this year’s peppers, eggplants and basil are thriving, even after being planted late. I hope that soon everything will be happily yielding the raw ingredients of stuffed peppers, eggplant parmesana and pesto.
The shade fabric is supposed to lower temps by up to 15 degrees, a welcome respite for finicky plants. Heat-loving tomatillo (newly replanted from their feral start in the flowers) and chili peppers are outside the shade frame, where they can soak up rays like a Quartzsite snowbird in February.