Let's Get Dirty
A gardening blog for adults who still love to play in the dirt.
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Thursday, May 12, 2011
After months of raising my babies from tiny seeds I thought it was time. Time for them to go out into the big bad world and make lives for themselves.
Sadly, it has been a struggle for many tiny tomato and pepper plants. Seedlings were first set out on the cool, sunny morning of Saturday, May 7. As the sun rose higher and higher in the sky, the seedlings were screaming out for me to save them from the scorching sun. We ran to find something to cover them: old sheets, disregarded real estate signs, weed barrier. With nails and duct tape we quickly did all in our power to help them get a little shade.
Sunday started in the same cool innocent way of Saturday, but quickly turned ugly with high winds. My babies were so small and helpless in the hurricaine force gales. Leaves were being ripped to shreds.
Then came Monday morning with it's cold temps. The night before, we put disposable cups over each of the helpless seedlings who were already half dead from the desprate days before. Yes, cool rains watered the dry ground in the day, but evening brought cold temperatures they had never felt before in their short lives.
It's now Thursday. There are a few survivors, but they are weak. Only time will tell if they will survive the cold, hard world. You can help these victims of climate change by sending your generous, non-tax deductible gift to Carol Clark at The Daily Sentinel. All donations will go toward nursery bedding plants.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
I planted morning glories, runner beans and corn in a little planting bed last year where I also had an old farm implement. I hoped the vining plants would climb up the rusty potato digger and around the corn, creating a charming site. Instead I got a jungle. So I moved the potato digger to a bigger space, vowed not to plant corn and runner beans together and decided to dig up any morning glories that sprouted and put them somewhere else, figuring that this tiny little plot would be a perfect place for lemon cucumbers rather than the morning glory/corn/beans mess that was there last year.
Someone told me that morning glories reseeded themselves every year, so I’ve been checking the dirt, hoping to find some that I could dig up and move. I finally found them, just not where I expected.
At first, I figured they were something else, since I know I planted something (Chinese cabbage, kale or quinoa) around that area.
Then I realized I didn’t plant anything in the rocks, those really are morning glory sprouts and this is the spot where I dumped all the overgrown vines and plants when I pulled them out of the garden last fall, since I didn’t have a compost bin yet.
No telling what else may sprout…
By Penny Stine
Friday, May 6, 2011
I tried to start transitioning my seedlings to life outside the living room last week, but was frustrated by the wind. And the snow. (scroll down to admire Carol's pics of snow covering her garden boxes.)
So I’ve been trying to get them ready this week. I had all but decided to wait until the weekend of the 14th to plant them in the garden, figuring that an extra week of transition time would be good.
Then someone from out of town called to say they’d like to visit that weekend, which made me realize I didn’t want to forego doing something fun because I had to plant seedlings. After all, I don’t want to be held hostage by my garden or my seedlings – it’s a hobby, not a job.
So I’ve been accelerating the transition phase. They spent their first night outside last night and looked pretty good this morning.
Some of the tomatoes don’t look so good, but I think it’s because I was overwatering them in the house and not because they got scorched by the sun. Most look pretty good, even if they're not as big as ones available at a greenhouse. I tell myself that starting seeds indoors is still worth it because of the unusual varieties I can get from seed catalogs. If I don't get any decent tomatoes this year, I may give up on starting seeds and just resign myself to buying plants. Or buying a grow light.
Last year, I killed most of my tomatoes during transition because I stuck them in the bright sunshine too soon, so I’ve been trying to be more gradual. I’m thinking that given next week’s forecast of partly cloudy days, it might actually be better to get them in the ground this weekend rather than wait for next. Especially since they’ve been outside for entire days (and nights) this week.
Any thoughts or words of wisdom about transitioning seedlings?
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
When the kids were little we made home-made paper baskets and filled them with flowers for the neighbors on May Day. They nervously hung them on the neighbors door, rang the doorbell and ran for their lives into the house. They loved peeking out the windows to see surprised neighbors open thier doors to flowers. Some probably hadn't received flowers in years.
But Mother Nature has been in a really bad mood lately, slightly akin to my PMS fits of rage. Even so, I was surprised to wake up to snow the day before May Day, when I had had visions of expanding my garden beds just the day before.
My seedlings are ready for warm sunny days and slightly cool evenings to harden off and my health coach has told me to eat more fruits and vegetables. During growing season I have no trouble getting enough veggies, but winter and early spring have me craving the likes of chocolate pudding cake.
In an effort to get those vegetables into my diet I have been trying new recipes. My Cooks Country Cookbook has an excellent recipe for Glazed Roasted Carrots.
These were excellent, helped me to fulfill the veggie quota for the day and added a little old fashioned sweetness to our barbequed chicken and wild rice dinner.
"I have been on a constant diet for the last two decades. I've lost a total of 789 pounds. By all accounts I should be hanging from a charm bracelet."
GLAZED ROASTED CARROTS
1 1/2 pounds medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2 by 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Heat a rimmed baking sheet covered with foil in the oven for 10 minutes.
Toss the carrots, melted butter, sugar and salt and pepper in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Remove the pan from the oven and place the carrots in a single layer on the hot baking sheet. Roast until the carrots are beginning to brown on the bottom, about 15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven, toss the carrots, and continue to roast until they are tender and deep amber in color, about 3 minutes. Serve.
By Penny Stine
Monday, May 2, 2011
My husband is my reluctant gardening partner. He’s not interested in starting seedlings, cheering them on when they first poke above the dirt or planting anything. He’s not into weeding and he’s not interested in companion planting or learning to identify all the different types of herbs I’m growing in corners here and there.
In spite of all that, he’s rather handy when it comes to constructing all that gardening stuff. I found some plans for a garden trellis (http://www.vegetablegardener.com/item/3367/build-an-a-frame-tomato-trellis)
and asked him a couple of months ago if he could make it. He agreed in spirit. Over this past weekend, he agreed in fact and actually went out, bought all the materials and spent an entire day building three trellises for my garden.
I'll use one trellis for indeterminate Roma-type tomatoes, one for regular pole beans and one for an experimental bean I’m trying called the Chinese red noodle bean. The tomatoes will grow right in the center of the trellis, anchored with vertical garden twine that will run from top to bottom in the center. I’ll probably run the twine horizontal (or get some type of mesh) across the sides to encourage the beans to grow up both sides of the trellis, forming a cool-looking a-frame.
These two trellises will go in my west garden (which is also in the front yard), where one will anchor Viva Italia tomatoes and the other will hold up the Chinese red noodle beans. The one below is in place in my tiny garden in the back yard, where I'll plant regular pole beans.
Kent said it cost about $100 to build all three, but the cool thing is that they can be taken apart quite easily for winter storage. He used untreated lumber, but we have some old stain that we used on the deck one spring and he’s going to stain them, so they should last longer. He estimated that they’d be good for 10 years if left untreated, so if we get 15 years out of them once they’re stained, that $100 doesn’t sound as expensive.
My husband mowed the lawn on Sunday and admitted that mowing the front is a lot easier since I've turned so much of what used to be lawn into garden.
Yes, I will take another pic once the trellises are in place, something is planted and it's growing up the trellis.
No, my husband isn't for hire.