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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Hot summer nights

By Carol Clark
Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it created romance." — Bern Williams

I happened upon this adorable rustic tiki torch online. After shopping every plumbing and hardware store in Grand Junction, my husband found the galvanized hardware at Lowe's. We promptly drank three bottles of wine for the project, (just kidding).

TIP: To remove labels from wine bottles place bottle in a 200 degree oven for 10 minutes. Labels will peel off easily with a razor blade.

The torches help keep the mood-killing mosquitoes away and add evening ambiance to your garden parties, or have fun creating a romantic secret garden for those hot summer nights. The best part may be drinking the wine for the torch!

Here is the link so you can get started tonight!






‘Joy of the Mountains’

By Carol Clark
Tuesday, June 22, 2010

With the second year in our herb garden the oregano and thyme have turned predatory, seeking to take out every other living thing in our small garden. We transplanted the thyme into its own pot where it could do no more harm. Cutting back the oregano, I didn't want to waste the extra, but did not yet want to dry for winter. (Can't admit that summer will come to an end). So with the extra we cut small bouquets which we tied with jute to share with our Greek friends. Totally irresistible.

Since your herbs will not stay forever ready in your garden, cut stems and have them ready in a canning jar filled with water. These will stay fresh for up to two weeks in your fridge. I like having them out on our kitchen table where they make the house smell like an Italian bistro and where I can be reminded to use them while preparing the next meal.

Make sure to dry enough for winter. Try drying leaves and stems in the refrigerator. After washing and patting dry, store in a brown paper bag in the fridge for three or four weeks. This way they are out of the dust and bugs way.

Greeks call oregano "Joy of the Mountains" and it is said to banish sadness.


They bloomed—why this year?

By Geri Anderson
Saturday, June 19, 2010

We moved into this house in September, 2008. The spacious yard had been mostly neglected for some time. There was a raised bed at the end of the patio with a collection of weeds and two clumps of Dutch iris (I believe that’s what they are). They were rather short, maybe 18”, and dry. We watered them, weeded the bed, and transplanted our strawberries into the bed that fall. Next growing season we watered pretty consistently, enjoyed the berries, and the iris grew taller, maybe 26” or 29”, but no blooms in the spring. Not one.

This year I really didn’t fret over them. But we had made a couple of changes to the bed.
1) Last years straw mulch had decomposed into the soil
2) We had given away some of our berry plants last fall
3) To fill in where we’d removed soil and plants, we added a top dressing in early May about an inch or two deep that was a fourth peat moss/ compost from our bed and probably a tenth composted manure
4) We re-mulched with several inches of fresh straw
5) We started soaking the berry bed earlier this year

Whatever helped—this year the iris bloomed—soft periwinkle blue blossoms among the tall leaves, now about 37” tall. They were beautiful!

Question: What change or changes brought on the blooms?



Slimy Slugs

By Geri Anderson
Friday, June 18, 2010

I am not intimidated by most garden bugs, but the slug gets to me. You know the slimy critter that is basically the inside of a snail, minus the shell. Their looks bother me. And worse yet—last year slug appetites claimed about a third of our strawberries. Just about the time a strawberry became red, ripe, and juicy, a slug would climb onto the berry to have a feast! It might eat it all, or leave a gaping cavity where it had devoured part of my next fruit topping! Or even have the audacity to be chowing down and attached to the berry when I went exploring for berries under the large leaves. Aaghh!

I know that they appreciate my strawberry bed most of all the spots in my yard because it’s generally damp and there are large leaves and the straw mulch to hide under—since slugs can’t handle direct sunlight or lack of moisture for long.

Here’s my favorite way to rid the garden plot of slugs. Diatomacious Earth. It’s not a chemical. It’s ground up seashells. Ground so that the edges are still sharp against the soft slug or other crawling insect body. These sharp edges cause the bugs to lose their interior moisture and dehydrate.

Works great. Here’s our strawberry bed up close; it’s in a raised bed.

And here’s the product that we got at a local hardware store to remedy the slugs. Last picking of a pint of berries, the slugs had gotten to only two berries. And I haven’t seen a slug or encountered one under the leaves in weeks!

The downside—the powder/ dust does wash off. We normally soak the strawberry bed from a slow running hose laid in the bed. However, if it rains, or if we use a sprinkler to water, then we need to reapply the Diatomacious Earth. We sprinkle a medium coat on the leaves around the edge of the bed and then dust maybe a fifth of the remaining leaves.

There are no chemicals to worry about. But, two cautions. It’s not recommended you breathe the powder and it can irritate eyes, so I sprinkle gently at arms length. And I keep it out of reach of children and pets.

Has anyone else found they like this method?


Just Grow Already

By Melinda Mawdsley
Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gardening is humbling.

Flowers don't care what you look like, how much money you make or even how much you want them to grow. They just don't care. It hurts.

Flowers are among my most favorite things in the world, especially sunflowers.

I moved to GJ about three years ago into a home with a gigantic yard with lots of sun exposure and plenty of wonderful grass. Flowers thrived.

In April, I moved into a new home after I got married. Despite my life changes, I still wanted my flowers.

I bought the same sunflower seeds I used at my previous home. I started my seeds in pots, babying them in the sun and shade and watering them faithfully. They thrived just like at my old place. At about five inches, I moved the living, breathing, happy sunflower plants into the ground by the fence for support.

They died.

I was not happy and promptly blamed the cats I'm pretty sure peed on them and munched on them like Doritos.

My husband questioned me, not the cats. He wanted to know why anyone would plant sunflowers in pots. He called them weeds and told me to just throw the seeds in the ground.

I listened. I did that. The flowers are coming on strong.

I'm pretty new to this whole gardening/planting my own things, so I'm constantly learning lessons. I guess the biggest lesson I've learned is not all flowers grow well at the same places and in the same conditions.

It sounds silly, and I promise I'm not dumb. I just seriously didn't think the balance of sun, shade, potting soil, etc. would ultimately make that much difference between a plant living or dying.

I thought maybe the plants wouldn't grow as tall or something like that, but I never expected them to flat out die on me.

I'm humbled you silly flowers.

P.S. I planted more seeds in the same spot where the other sunflowers died to prove that I can get them to grow. What can I saw? I'm pretty competitive.

Page 109 of 111


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