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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CSA = Common Sense Agriculture

By Melinda Mawdsley
Saturday, June 12, 2010

I'm 31. In other words, I would rather pay to have someone grow my food than do it myself.

A couple years ago, I was doing an article and found the Cameron Place CSA in Palisade. Intrigued by the concept of paying farmers to grow my orgnanic produce each summer, I joined.

Financially, it made sense to pay hundreds to a local CSA for organic produce, herbs and flowers because I would have paid more at a grocery store for the same things that aren't half as tasty.

This year is my third year in the CSA, and it has proved its worth financially. This year, I split a $550 standard share with a co-worker.

Thursday was our first pick up of 2010, but I've already gone out to the Palisade farm and picked two quarts of strawberries and some fresh mint and oregano. The picks ups likely will last until October.

Stay tuned to what wonderful things I get and eat immediately (peaches). And the things I get and promptly pawn off because I don't know what to do with them (okra).

P.S. As a note to everyone wondering how I am qualified to be on this blog, I do grow basil and flowers, although I'm pretty sure the neighborhood cats are killing my flowers.


Garlic What?

By Carol Clark
Friday, June 11, 2010

Garlic has been a new experiment for my husband and I. A friend gave me some "seeds" which is actually just cloves of garlic. We planted them last summer which turned out to be a mistake. You are supposed to plant them in the fall. We left the little buggers in the ground over the summer, fall, and winter. In the spring we had some hardy garlic sprouting up! The stocks have grown huge and grew buds that started to twist into beautiful spirals.

I was reading a book that said the garlic scapes are delicious. What is a scape? Turning to the computer to investigate I found the scape is the top of the garlic stem with the bud attached. Being the experimental types we decided to eat this new found food and found it crunchy and delicious with a light creamy garlic flavor.

Try adding scapes to guacamole, pasta sauces, salads, and stir fry. We made ours into a sauce for our salmon supper.

Cutting the scapes off actually encourages the bulb to develop underground as the energy goes into bulb instead of the flower. Bulbs should be harvested in July when the leaves get brown and dry. After hanging the bulbs to dry in a cool dry place, (good luck with that in July), braid into a useful decoration for your kitchen.

Scape Sauce for Salmon


3 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp dry white wine
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
4 chopped garlic scapes
1 Tbsp. drained capers (optional)

Grill salmon. Meanwhile, discard tough scape tips and chop the stem and bud into small pieces. Saute scapes in melted butter until tender, add white wine, lemon juice and capers. Simmer until scapes are tender. Spoon over salmon or chicken.


The accidental gardener

By Laurena Mayne Davis
Wednesday, June 9, 2010

As with life in general, there should be room for a little serendipity in the garden and the yard. Start with a plan — and adapt.

Witness this feral patch of Virginia creeper.

I did not plant it. Instead, I had planted a neat row of alternating shrubs of maroon barberry and golden euonymus, thinking they would fill in this dry, north-facing no-man’s-land between barn and bunny pens. Most shrubs withered, preferring, I suppose, an English garden life, or at least water.

Birds came along and planted the Virginia creeper, leaving seeds in their droppings as they roosted above in a cottonwood tree. A hog panel stapled to the barn provides traction. I think it’s the perfect, serendipitous solution.

Odd thing is, I’ve struggled for years to cultivate Virginia creeper to mask the chain link fencing in our front yard, which was useful years ago for containing toddlers, but really just looks like prison fencing. I bought starts of Virginia creeper and watered them diligently. Few took hold; they suffered in the sun.

The landscaping solution? Tear out the prison fencing, and enjoy the birds’ vines in the back yard.



Herbs are hawesome

By Penny Stine
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I love growing herbs, mostly because they’re hard to kill and many are perennials, which means you don’t have to do anything and they keep coming back every year. I also like to grow them because I cook with them, and I’m incredibly cheap and they’re expensive in the store.

Parsley is great because it starts growing in February and keeps on producing as long as you keep picking and don't let it go to seed. It’s a pig, though; because it will take over whatever space you give it. One solution is to put it in a pot, or just let your herb garden be overrun with parsley.

Parsley: At least it's green, although it crowds everything else around it.

Thyme is also an easy perennial that eventually grows to gigantic proportions and flowers in early summer. Ditto for sage, but the purple flowers are showier. Rosemary is a perennial in milder climates, but I’ve never gotten one to last through the winter here. It’s the only plant I purchased this year as a plant rather than a seed. It generally doesn’t get too gigantic, since it only grows through one season.

Thyme: I like to grow herbs with flowers, which is handy when herbs are flowering, like the thyme in the picture.

Another cool thing about thyme and sage is that you can pick and use them all winter, although the plants get sad-looking by January. They don’t seem to be too picky about soil conditions, either, and thrive when they’re mildly mistreated.

Sage: These plants are probably three or four years old, and now I wish I would have planted them a little farther apart.

Rosemary: So far, this is the only plant I purchased for my entire yard this year. Everything else I started from seed.

So now that you’ve got parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme from your herb garden, make some Simon & Garfunkel potatoes:

  • A few potatoes (I generally go with one potato per person, more if the potatoes are small and the people are big)
  • A handful each of chopped parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
  • Some olive oil (a couple tablespoons?)
  • Salt and pepper

Cube the potatoes, but don’t bother peeling. Spread foil across a large baking sheet. Spray non-stick cooking spray on foil. Throw the potatoes on the foil, toss with herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 410 degrees until brown and crispy (could be as short as 30 minutes, depending on how many potatoes you’re cooking), turning at least once.

Potatoes: Don't take them out of the oven until they're crispy and golden. Yukon Gold and red potatoes are great in this, and russets aren't bad, either.



Great magazine find

By Penny Stine
Monday, June 7, 2010

I just found out about a great magazine for gardening in the Rocky Mountains.  It's called Zone 4 Magazine. Check it out here

Technically, I don't think the Grand Valley is actually in Zone 4 - our growing season is a bit longer than the rest of the Rocky Mountain area and our elevation isn't quite as high. However, the magazine is still great. Nice photos, good tips on organic and non-organic practices, events and places to go, a few what not to do tales and the occasional recipe or cooking idea for garden edibles. 

There was a really good story about weeds (only a fellow gardener can appreciate that!) with a line that almost brought me to tears when it turned to bindweed, the bane of my existence. "It's probably safe to say that once you have this weed in your garden you will always have it, and that is why some agencies consider it one of the 10 most serious weeds in the world." 

At least now I know I'm not alone in my hatred for bindweed.

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