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 Carol Clark
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Throwing a beer party for the earwigs and slugs in your garden may seem a little generous for those leaf loving gluttons, but it can help to save your plants.
To say we have an earwig infestation is putting it mildly. Last year we used a spray bottle of water with a couple drops of dish soup. Spraying this on our plants makes those nasty vermin move; unfortunately, they just move over to the next-best tasting plant. Furthermore, once our sprinklers watered the garden and washed the soap off, their midnight dinner parties were back on! Because I don't like sharing produce with uninvited guests I resorted to a poison made for kitchen gardens. Making me feel a little uneasy while eating our well scrubbed veggies.
Well, this year I learned to attract those lush slugs with a kegger. Filling empty shallow tuna cans with beer and burying them at ground level in my garden did the trick. Saturday night was the first "woodsie" with cans in each garden bed filled with a little Bud Light. The next morning it looked like a frat party gone bad, several dozen earwigs, zillions of tiny sugar ants, and a cricket all dead or passed out at the bottom of the can. I figure this is a fairly painless way to die.
I have discovered vegetable oil works as well. It's just not as fun as having an opened can of beer you have to finish. So, we will continue these evening get-togethers until the problem drinkers are taken care of.
"I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends
A chance to share old memories and play our songs again
When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name
No one recognized me, I didn't look the same."
— Ricky Nelson
By Penny Stine
Monday, July 19, 2010
This year, I was determined to create a whimsical, fun and beautiful garden, which is why I created pathways, planted more flowers and tried to find garden art for one of my gardens. Yes, one of my gardens… I actually have three separate garden spaces in various places in my yard, created as I search in vain for the perfect spot to grow tasty things to eat.
I got this way cool piece of old farm equipment from a friend whose family used to run a dairy farm in Loma. Her husband collected old farm equipment, trucks, hand tools, gadgets and other treasures for years. I’m pretty sure it’s a potato digger (or it could be a planter); either way, it was meant to be pulled behind a plow horse. I thought it would look cool in the garden with pole beans and morning glories trailing all over it.
When I had too much corn seed for the two spots I was originally going to plant corn, I threw the seed in a border around the planting bed with the potato digger.
Then God made everything grow.
Now I can’t find the potato digger anywhere. I’m sure it’s still there since I trip over it every time I’m walking down the pathways, which seemed plenty wide enough when I made them in April. They’re still large in the shady parts of the garden, but where the sun shines brilliantly, the garden has taken over. Just the way I like it.
Next year, I think I’ll try cantaloupe in the planting bed with the potato digger and I’ll look for an old door or something equally tall for the pole beans to climb. Not sure where I’ll plant corn.
Anybody have photos of other interesting pieces of garden art to share? E-mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Laurena Mayne Davis
Friday, July 16, 2010
GJSentinel.com can bring you the sights and sounds of the garden, but not the aromas.
Until we get our own version of Smell-O-Vision, you’ll just have to imagine what it smells like to walk by and crush in your fingers the leaves of this common mint:
Or Russian sage:
Or whiff the wafting sweetness of honeysuckle:
What do you plant in your garden for aromatherapy?
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Gardeners like to talk about what works and what doesn’t, which really helps in overall successful gardening. I learned about kale from a friend of mine who grew it and said it thrived in our hot weather all summer, in spite of its reputation as a cold weather plant. She said it was good in salads, soups, pastas and all sorts of other foods.
So I bought some seeds and planted it for the first time last summer. It came up quickly and gets big enough to eat within a month or two. How cool is that? This year, I planted it in several places throughout my gardens, using it as a border plant and a filler of empty gardening spaces.
It grows in sunshine among the broccoli, dill and potatoes.
It grows in part shade as a border.
It’s a strong, sturdy leaf that’s not very good to munch on out in the garden (unlike pea pods or cherry tomatoes), but I googled recipes and experimented and found several ways to use it. Kale is the nutritional superman of the garden, packing a boatload of minerals and vitamins in every bite.
Here are my favorite ways to use it:
4 – 6 cups of whole kale leaves
red pepper flakes
Wash the kale and cut out the tough stems. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray. Spread kale across the pan, toss with olive oil and seasonings. Bake at 350 degrees until the kale is brown and crispy. You may have to turn it so it gets done on both sides.
That’s it. So simple and so yummy.
Kale and tomato salad
4 – 6 cups of torn kale leaves
3 – 4 tomatoes, cut in chunks
1 -2 avocados
red peppers, black olives, yellow peppers, green olives, cucumbers, green onions or anything else that’s in the fridge or garden and looks promising to throw in a salad
olive oil, juice and zest of a lemon, a dash of balsamic vinegar for the dressing, salt & pepper
whatver chopped herbs you’ve got in the garden, especially basil, chives, thyme
When using raw kale in a salad, it’s important to put something acidic (like the tomatoes) in the salad and to put lemon or lime juice in the dressing and let the dressing sit on the salad for 15 minutes before serving. The acidity cuts the natural bite of the kale. Because kale is a thicker leaf, it holds up well without getting wilted in a salad.
By Carol Clark
Monday, July 12, 2010
"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato."
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."
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.
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.