Here’s the Dirt

How well do you know your gardening myths? Here are a few Myth questions to test your knowledge.

1. Is it important to cover a newly pruned areas with varnish, tar, or paint?

2. Do water droplets magnify the sun and burn the leaves?

3. If you have blossom end rot ,will adding tums to the soil work?

4. Do ants help to open Peony buds?

[1.False; 2.False; 3.False; 4.False]

Submitted by Donna Canino

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Saving Summer Plants for Winter Color

Have you ever thought about bringing in some of your summer plantings in the fall to grow through the winter? While researching different plants that we could grow here in Montana I came across some that most of us have in our yard during the summer.

After such a scorching summer, we are usually ready to send everything to the dumpster or compost pile. But think outside the box. How about some color, plants for decorating, or use for cooking. Some of these plants will need to be repotted for indoors or take cuttings.

Geranium – Bring them in before frost and give them a light trim. Water when dry, feed monthly and give bright direct light. http://www.wikihow.com/Propagate-Geraniums- from-Cuttings

Caladium – The same plants sold as tubers and potted and sold, at a much higher price, as houseplants. Indoors they like indirect light. Keep their soil moist, but not wet. They prefer temps from 60 to 85 degrees. If they yellow and die back, just let rest until spring. Store in a cool dry spot and repot in February or March. They like low to moderate light.

Boxwood– Small potted evergreen boxwood make easy going houseplants and special winter decorations with a little pruning. Turn the pot every few days to keep growing evenly. Humidity is crucial to evergreen houseplants so keep a mister handy. Put plenty of pebbles in the bottom of the pot. Water when the soil dries and feed monthly. They like bright to moderate light.

Coleus – Coleus come in so many different colors it’s a shame not to try cuttings from your favorites. They like indirect bright light and to be warm. Keep the soil moist and feed monthly. Pinch off any flowers to prevent them from going to seed.

Hot Peppers – Peppers are tropical perennials and can be kept growing and producing. Smaller hot peppers are the easiest to bring indoors. They like their soil a little dry and underfed. Bright direct light is necessary to set flowers and grow peppers. Think orange, yellow, green and red for winter color. Do watch for aphids and fungus gnats.

Herbs – Many herbs do well indoors. Do you have chives, basil, parsley, rosemary or lemon grass? It is best to start with small, young plants. Perennials, like lemon grass and rosemary can be potted and brought back and forth from outdoors to an indoor window sill. Be sure they get bright light and trim to keep bushy. They like bright light.

If you are bringing plants in from outdoors you may think about isolating them before bringing them indoors. Make sure all the hitchhikers are gone. You don’t need extra pests to infect your existing plants. Fungus gnats are generally caused by overwatering.

Submitted by Sheri Kisch

METRA Square Foot Garden Results

This year, once again, we had some stiff competition with our METRA Square Foot Garden Contest. There were 5 competition 4×4 beds this year. You all made our garden demonstration something to check out. There were many very nice compliments this year.

Special thanks to all of you who competed: Cindy Roesler, Joann Glasser & Pat Morrison, Rick Shotwell, Roy Wahl, Susan Carlson And the winners are: First Place – #1 Cindy Roesler ($50 Second Place – #5 Joann Glasser and Pat Morrison ($25) Third Place – #2 Rick Shotwell ($10).

Thank you to Mary Davis and Rosemary Power for being our honored judges. Our judges suggested sharing with you what they will be looking for next year. Here’s the list: 1. Well thought out design 2.Space utilization 3 Creative plant choice 4.Plant health 5.Care & maintenance of garden 6.Overall attractiveness 7. Labeling/Educational 8. Mixture of color, form & texture.

Please consider being a part of the 4×4 Garden Contest in 2018. There are 2 available competition beds that you could use to share your ideas of what could be done in a small space garden.

Submitted by Amy Grandpre

A QUICK MEAL WITH FRESH GREENS

My friend in Switzerland taught me to use kale, spinach, Swiss chard or beet greens when in season for a delicious meal.

Put about a tablespoon of butter in a pan; add coarsely chopped greens and sauté. She adds a small amount of chicken or beef bouillon with a little water to dissolve it for added flavor.

When ready to eat, add a grated cheese of your choice on top. The stalks of kale, swiss chard or beets can also be used in this manner or saved for soups and salads.

Meat is very high priced in Switzerland and used sparingly. She tries to get vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein from other sources. They have a vegetable garden, fruit trees and current and berry bushes.

Mountain cheese is used a lot because the family has it on hand year round. Sometimes the above recipe would have cream added instead of cheese.

For desert berries and currants are served.

Submitted by Sheri Kisch

Sausage and Potato Soup

Sausage and Potato Soup

· 1 tablespoon olive oil
· 1 pound spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
· 3 cloves garlic, minced
· 1 onion, diced
· 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
· 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
· 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
· Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
· 5 cups chicken broth
· 1 bay leaf
· 1 pound red potatoes, diced
· 3 cups baby spinach
· 1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions: 1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add Italian sausage and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the sausage as it cooks; drain excess fat. 2. Stir in garlic, onion, oregano, basil and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent, about 2-3 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. 3. Stir in chicken broth and bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. 4. Stir in spinach until it begins to wilt, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in heavy cream until heated through, about 1 minute; season with salt and pepper, to taste. 5. Serve immediately.

http://damndelicious.net/2014/10/29/sausage-potato-spinach-soup