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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Eat this

By Melinda Mawdsley
Friday, August 6, 2010

Weekends are a good time to experiment in the kitchen with local produce. This weekend, my kitchen-loving husband (I'm serious) and I, are making tomato-based sauce from scratch to experiment with what herbs and tomatos we like best.

 

I think we can afford to make mistakes.

With so many vegetables and fruits running a bit behind schedule this year, we are now into the start of the prime weeks of harvesting season. Harvesting, for me, means going to the Downtown Farmers' Market on Thursdays to pick up my standard share box at the Cameron Place CSA stand. I've been a member at the Palisade CSA for several years now.

Harvesting, for others, means picking from their own gardens, or shopping at area produce stands and farmers' markets. Honestly, the flavor of produce picked on the day you eat it can't be beat. Even grocery stores have better produce right now. Seriously, just go eat peaches and corn on the cob.

Anyway, a couple of coworkers asked me what I'm getting from my CSA right now, so I thought I'd throw up a quick blog entry to fill everyone in. Keep in mind, I'm only halfway through the season.

For those at home, that's, from left, lettuce, potatoes, zucchini, carrots, garlic, peaches and tomatoes. I let my coworker take the beets, turnip and watermelon this week. I just realized I forgot to put the cucumbers in the picutre. Sorry.

That's a haerty meal. It's all organic. It's low in calories and high in nutrients. And it will be tasty. Want to know why?

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Tomato heartburn

By Carol Clark
Thursday, August 5, 2010

That first tomato of the year! Always hard to leave it until it fully ripens. The day finally comes and you grab that beauty and pull the perfect fat tomato from the vine. Turn it over and ugh! Blossom End Rot!

Top of tomato:

And now the bottom:

This is the first time I have experienced this disheartening problem. Researching, I discovered either my dirt does not have enough calcium or the plant is stressed and cannot process the calcium. I thought calcium was for bones! Apparently boneless tomatoes need it too.

You can help prevent this from happening by watering evenly. Periods of drought followed by a lot of water definitely stresses out the plant. Mulch your plants when it is hot and it will help keep moisture in and make sure not to overwater.

Other things you can do to prevent the rot — put eggshells in your compost, powdered milk in your bed (garden bed, not your sleeping bed) or, my favorite, TUMS. You have heard of TUMS for your tummy. Well, now the makers of TUMS can have a new advertising campaign, "TUMS for Tomatoes." You just crush the tablet and work it into the dirt. It didn't say whether to use sugar-free or fast-acting, so I chose fast-acting.

Since this ailment appears less frequently as the summer wears on, anything you do will make you look like a gardening genius.
 

2 comments

Finding a needle in a haystack wouldn’t be this hard

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A garden is always an opportunity to learn, isn’t it?

I wanted to try growing pole beans this year and I read that they were a good companion plant for corn. As the corn grows taller, it gives the beans somewhere to go.

Not content with your basic beans, I decided to go for more color and planted morning glories and scarlet runner beans. I thought they would be pretty all growing together.

And it would have been, if they all bloomed together. But the runner beans bloomed first, giving me red flowers in the corn stalks. Then the pole beans started, with little white flowers. Finally the morning glories began showing off in the early hours.

The only problem is that the corn continues to get monstrous, blocking out the sun for the beans, which limits their ability to continue flowering. Plus, the beans have begun producing beans, and finding them in the corn/bean/morning glory jungle is like playing Where’s Waldo in the garden, except instead of trying to find a funny-looking guy in glasses and a striped shirt, I’m trying to find green beans.

Oh well, at least I’ve learned what not to do next year.

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If you plant it, it will grow

By Melinda Mawdsley
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It’s time to throw a little controversy into the gardening blog.

This garden isn’t mine. Heck, this garden isn’t even local. It’s the joint effort of my parents and grandparents in Iowa where farmers take their squash plants seriously.

Even in the winter, they are prepping to plant. So it should come as no surprise, being a farmer’s daughter, that I would use a recent trip back to Iowa to highlight gardening in the Midwest.

Every region of the country, for the most part, has strengths or obstacles when it comes to growing fruits and vegetables. In Iowa, the biggest strength is its soil.

I don’t know anyone who adds anything to soil in Iowa other than the ocassional pesticide or insecticide. It is as black as night. Honestly, I’ve thought about paying my parents to haul buckets of the stuff out here where the soil is dry and a little low on nutrients.

Is that illegal?

Consequently, plants — and weeds — flourish in Iowa’s humid summer months where plenty of rain typically falls, giving the state this lush green color that does not exist here.  Even an outsider — my Mesa County-native husband — marveled at the plants.

That’s a kohlrabi, which he had never heard about. In the Mawdsley family, kohlrabi is dessert. Peel that sucker and eat it raw.

However, he did note, as did my parents, that fruit doesn’t grow in Iowa like it does in Mesa County. True. I have to ship Palisade peaches home later this summer.
 

1 comments

“We eat what we can, and what we can’t, we can.”

By Carol Clark
Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Looking back, growing up in Loma had its advantages. Only five miles from Highline Lake, we loved to ride our bikes to the lake unattended by parents. July was sweltering and the water felt heavenly, even though it was full of dirt, fish and dreaded crawdads. After hours of swimming our reward was to find ripe apricots in the big apricot tree on the beach. These memories have me craving apricots every year.

The Advertising Manager at the Sentinel has beautiful 70-year-old apricot trees in her yard on the Redlands. Remnants of an old orchard. Although she loves the beautiful trees 11 months of the year, she curses the month that the fruit ripens and squishes all over her yard. So, she graciously opens her mini orchard to her hungry coworkers, giving us as much as we can pick.

Mom gave me her food mill which is the most ingenious contraption I have ever seen. Fruit goes into the top and seeds and skin come out one side, pureed fruit comes out the front ready to can or dry. She thought she had died and gone to heaven when she bought this back in the day. This makes canning and drying so easy!

This year we canned apricot butter, apricot jam and made apricot leather, but our favorite has been the apricot smoothies we've made for breakfast every morning. We will freeze extra for these.


APRICOT SMOOTHIES

  • Place 4-5 large ripe apricots in your blender.
  • Add 1/2 - 3/4 cup milk
  • About 1 tablespoon honey and
  • 2 cups of ice.

Blend this together in your blender until all the ice is crushed, (being sure to make as much noise as possible so those teenagers in your house can't sleep in :-)

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Page 110 of 117




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