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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The day before May Day snow

By {screen_name}
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."
Erma Bombeck




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.


My marvelous husband

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. 




No frozen veggies this time

By Penny Stine
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In spite of the extremely hard frost on Tuesday night (and the hail at my house a couple hours before the frost hit), everything survived. Of course, I give all the credit to my mom, since I called her to ask what I should cover and what would probably be OK. She warned me to put extra mulch on the potatoes that were above ground and cover some of the peas with a drop cloth. I was just as afraid that I’d break the pea stalks with the drop cloth as I was that the freeze would kill them.

Luckily, I didn’t kill them and neither did the cold. As you can see, I've got dill growing with the peas... I promised myself I'd be ruthless and not let it take over the garden this year, but I haven't  eradicated it yet. 




The peas growing in between the hollyhocks along the fence that I didn't cover look fine. 





When I peeked through the mulch, the potatoes hadn't turned black and frozen, so I'm guessing there's no damage there, either. 






Even the strawberries survived. I'm practicing companion planting again this year (when I think about it) and remembered that onions are supposed to be a good companion plant for strawberries. Hope it doesn't affect the flavor of either one. Don't want onion-flavored strawberries, but I don't really want strawberry-flavored onions, either, even if I did plant red onions. 


Tulip magic

By {screen_name}
Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.

-Claude Monet



These tulips were given to me a few years ago and they were red. Every year they have changed colors. I know there is a scientific explanation for the changing colors - cross breeding, sometimes plants will change color depending on their genes, if they have a virus, mutations or what you are watering and fertilizing them with, but to me it is MAGIC.

"Flowers havd spoken more to me than I can tell in written words. They are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character, though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning."
-Lydia M. Child


Easter rain

By {screen_name}
Monday, April 25, 2011

Saturday before Easter and plans to work in the garden were thwarted by rain. Instead, I made our traditional birds' nests. We have made these for twenty-one years now. It all started when my daughter and I were part of a mom/tot preschool at Mesa State College. This unique program invited weary moms to come to school with their two and three-year olds once a week to get some much needed social interaction, (for moms, not for tots).
One of our moms had a special Easter party and made these delicious nests for the two-year olds. Moms were hooked. We still get together with one of those families, the Trowbridges, often. The kids will not let a single Easter go by without these treats. Even though the kids are grown, the tradition continues. I called the Trowbridges on Saturday to say Happy Easter and to make sure we were carrying on the tradition. Not to worry, they had already eaten most of theirs!

You can still make these for spring. This is a special recipe so hang onto it for years to come. You don't have to have kids to enjoy them.
12 oz butterscotch chips
15 oz Chow Mein noodles
1 cup salted peanuts
1 bag of Hershey chocolate eggs
Melt the chips over low year until smooth. Add the noodles and peanuts and stir well. Drop spoonfuls onto waxed paper and place chocolate eggs on top.
After MUCH experimentation the kids have determined that Hershey's chocolate eggs are the best for this recipe and may not be substituted with inferior eggs. They are usually very hard to find but City Market carried them this year.

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