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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First canning of the season

By Laurena Mayne Davis
Thursday, July 28, 2011

My family took a road trip through Yellowstone National Park where the weather was balmy, wild animals appeared as if on cue and my post-hiking evenings were lazily spent sipping Moose Drool ale and flipping through magazines. Man do I love the West.

I also love canning, and one of those magazines was a Better Homes and Gardens collection of canning recipes, including one for Carrot Cake Jam, with which I quickly became obsessed, dog-earing the page and bemoaning my choice to wait and plant carrots for fall. I would just have to wait for cinnamon-raisin toast slathered with cream cheese and spicy jam.

Co-worker Chris to the rescue. His urban garden is an oasis of vegetative productivity. He brought in a bag of freshly dug and scrubbed carrots. I promptly plopped one in my mouth and took the rest home to grate for Carrot Cake Jam, which did not disappoint.

The magazine is titled Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications: Canning. It’s $9.99 and widely available at grocery stores. Other tasty recipes I’ll try from it include Pickled Pear Tomatoes With Rosemary, Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce and Lemon-Hazelnut Pesto. Magazine recipes are copyright-protected, but there are other recipes and great canning tips at bhg.com.


First of the season

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Look! My first tomato!  It was tiny and delicious. I considered dressing it up with fresh basil, but it was so small I didn't want anything to overpower it. The only problem was that it tasted like six more. Alas, I don't have six more. 

Btw... it's supposed to be orange, it's a sungold hybrid. I'm not picking it early. Well, maybe a day or two. 




I do have plenty of green tomatoes that are intent on teasing me like these little patio tomatoes. 









I also have green ones in pots on my patio. They're either Jetsetter or Sioux - I didn't label them with yarn because I told myself that I wouldn't forget. Hah! Of course I forgot. 












As you can see, I've got plenty of tomatoes. Just not plenty of ripe tomatoes. So far, all the tomatoes that are forming are either Sungold, Sioux or Jetsetter, although I finally quit pinching off the blossoms on the Viva Italia because the plants got tall enough to reach the trellis and I think they're also starting to put on a few tomatoes. 



I don't want summer to zoom by, but I'm hoping I don't have to wait another week for my next little bite of tomato. 


Crazy days of summer

By {screen_name}
Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A friend was lamenting, "When is fall going to be here?" Seems she is sick and tired of the summer heat.

Well, I am here to say, "Don't Rush it!"'

Before you know it fall will be here, so enjoy the moment. You schedule your doctor appointments on the calendar so how about scheduling a little fun? Don't let summer slip away without doing some of the things that bring you and your family joy.

Here are a few ideas:

Surprise the one you love with a picnic in the mountains.

Swing in a hammock and watch the clouds go by - Remember finding shapes in the clouds when you were little?

Go to the library and check out a fun book to read, just for the fun of it.

Find a new trail to hike.

Take a bike ride down the Riverfront trail early in the cool morning.

Make homemade ice cream and invite people you love to eat it with you.

Play yard games like croquet.

Have a night time garden party with tiki torches to keep skeeters away.

Take the kids to the Delta drive-in.

Go camping - it's the worst camping trips that make the funniest memories.


Most importantly, don't let the lazy hazy day's of summer slip away without really enjoying them.

Above all - Don't let summer slip away without having some serious fun. Fall will be here soon enough!



Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer

-Nat King Cole




July flowers

By Penny Stine
Friday, July 22, 2011

Becoming a potager gardener rather than a straight vegetable gardener has been a good decision. Although I love finding food in my garden, the flowers are delightful. Now that summer is in full stride, the annuals are strutting their stuff. 

 I planted zinnias for the first time last year in a few select places, then collected seeds at the end of the season because they were so easy to grow and so bright and colorful in the garden. I've planted them everywhere in my gardens this year, including this box where my peppers aren't yet producing. 



Zinnias and marigolds make a good combination in these beds, where I've also got tomatoes, tomatillos, melons, pumpkin, peppers, basil, Thai basil and perilla. This seems to be a good flower combo for keeping bugs away from plants, too. 




This is an annual called love-in-a-mist. The colors look faded thanks to the bright sunshine in the pic, but they're a brilliant blue and white. Quite pretty. They were thank you gift from one of the seed companies. I believe the packet said they're known to re-seed themselves, so I'm hoping they'll come back next year. 










Most of the perennials in my garden have already bloomed, but this delphinium is just starting to show some color. 





Below, those are not flowerpots with tomatoes. They are tomato pots with a few flowers thrown in for good looks. I still don't have any tomatoes, peppers or cucumbers. At least I can enjoy the flowers. 


Take another little piece of my heart now, baby

By Penny Stine
Thursday, July 21, 2011

I’m fairly certain Janis Joplin was not singing about tomatoes in her famous song, but the lyrics fit, especially when she wails about breaking another little piece of her heart. I started my tomatoes all from seed. I’ve got a relationship with these babies that’s lasted almost six months, and then, outta nowhere, one of my Virginia sweets started developing leaves that are curling, turning yellow and have spots! 

Knowing how much Carol Clark has suffered this summer (oh, the agony of tomato plants with a fatal, mysterious virus that has no cure), and knowing how full my calender was for the next week, with no time to take a leaf sample to either the extension office or Bookcliff Gardens. I ripped out the infected plant in hopes of stopping whatever caused those leaves to turn spotted and stunted the plant’s growth.
I’m telling you, the song lyrics still fit perfectly:

“And each time I tell myself that I, well I think I've had enough,
But I'm gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough.”

Before I took this photo, I had already ripped off the worst section of leaves to  show it to people who had lost tomato plants to both curly leaf virus and one of the blights. The leaf I brought in had big, nasty black spots. 

It was tough ripping out the tomato plant, but I’d rather lose one plant now that a dozen plants later. But if you hear me singing the blues like Janis, you’ll know why.

Page 109 of 147


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