Appalachia Gardening

How Does My Garden Grow 3

Our garden is still going strong. This is the first year we’ve tried to stagger our plantings in an effort to extend our harvest season. Our first round of corn is almost gone-but our second round is coming on strong. The unusual high temperatures and dry weather we experienced at the beginning of the summer was hard on our first corn. The more moderate temps and frequent rain we’ve had recently seem to have been perfect for our second planting of corn-it looks lovely.

We still have beans galore-peanut and white-half runners.

Our zucchini plants have done so so this year. And for the second year in a row our yellow squash plants have been almost a total waste of time. The plants grow great-they just don’t produce.

Remember my plumgranny from last summer? I planted the seed I saved-and have several growing-I can’t wait to see if they smell as fragrant as the one from last summer.

Wild blueberries

My blueberries have been few and far between this summer. Last summer some unknown bird ate every last one of them! This year they just haven’t produced much. I think I need to trim the trees around them-and prune the bushes a little too.

Green peppers , banana peppers , and cucumbers are all still going strong.

That early dry heat took a tole on our watermelon and cantaloupe plants. The ones in the big garden were so pitiful The Deer Hunter tilled them up back in the first part of July. Now at this late stage in the game-one of Chitter’s watermelon plants has decided to produce. She’s so excited about it-but I told her it may not have time to fully develop-she said she’d eat it anyway!

The tomatoes are still producing so well that I can barely keep my kitchen counter clear of them.

All in all we’ve had a super garden season. It started out on the right foot when Sow True Seed signed on to sponsor the Blind Pig garden-and just kept getting better from there. The only real failure was our squash-I even tried planting it in a totally different part of the garden this year-but that didn’t seem to help either. We’ve grown bookoos of squash in years past-just not in the last two years.

How does your garden grow?



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  • Reply
    Melissa P (misplaced Southerner)
    August 19, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Well, Tipper, our experiment with tomatoes hasn’t gone as well as hoped. We just don’t have enough sun. I have very happy green plants with a number of green tomatoes – they jus don’t have enough sun to ripen properly. I think our nights are getting too cool also. Guess we’ll just have to keep going to the farmers’ markets and help promote our local farmers. They’ve had a tough year with extreme drought, so I like to help by buying local.

  • Reply
    kenneth o. hoffman
    August 18, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Tipper: wow what a great looking garden, I’ll have to check next door to see how phil,s doing. he is my gardener . sometime he cant remember what being a good neighbor is all about. just kidding ,he is the best he just came over with tomatoes ,cucumbers, beans, peppers and some stuff i dont recognize. what a swell guy and of course he is a second growth tarheel. blessing from Sedro Woolley. k.o.h

  • Reply
    August 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    Your garden looks terrific! All
    of your veggies are doing great
    for a late garden. Mine is about
    all gone, and I’m glad cause the
    heat has ’bout got me. Seems most
    everyone had success this year, I
    know I did. Your title in today’s
    post reminds me of my daughter’s
    first Nursery Rhyme…Ken

  • Reply
    Jerry M.
    August 18, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Our garden is about done. We had very little rainfall this season. We did have a bumper crop of tomatoes. Our freezer is full so I guess we didn’t really need any more produce this year. We feel blessed to have food put away to help with the high grocery prices.

  • Reply
    B. urth
    August 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I see trading “aigs” next year for a bucket of Jim’s blueberries!
    An aquaintance of ourn that grows the most beautiful peaches in one county, trades bushels of peaches for bushels of arsh taters from another county..Purty taters they are, too….He said he just don’t have time to plant taters with all the care in the peach orchard..and the other man just can’t seem to get peach trees to bare where he lives, so it works out for the betterment of all. How I found out…After picking my peaches, I saw these bushels of the purtiest taters in his garage when I turned in my peach baskets…Thinking to buy a few…he said not for sale and that explained the bushells of peaches sittin’ aside the taters..he was on his way to pick them up…
    Oh, the good ole days…
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Tipper, it seems to me that your garden gets better each year as you all learn more and constantly update your practices. It’s a wonderful thing to watch and I’m sure it is a wonderful experience for you and the Deer Hunter.
    Just like we have an off day some crops can have an off season. I recon that’s just part of life.
    I think the corn and tomatoes are the crowning glory of your crop this year. If you get a lot of good tomatoes to make a lot of good tomato sandwiches,aka M&M sandwiches, then the garden was a success.

  • Reply
    August 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    Our tomatoes burned up mostly, but we had plenty of local growers that had some to put up. We grew 200 lbs. of summer squash – crook-necked yellow – that I dehydrated and we enjoyed fresh too. I especially liked the small crop of delicata squash we planted and plan to plant them again next year. I have a pretty good number of the seeds if you want to try them. We had some bad ants get after the okra, but they are coming off fine now. Green beans and bell peppers were good this year and the pickling cucumbers too. We also have a few watermelons that are coming off, although most never made it in the dry heat. I had your problem with my sunshine squash – lots of blooms and no fruit. Staggering the garden sounds like a good idea if you have two gardens, but for me to have a good Fall one I have to be finished with the first one by now. I would love to know the name of the Florida tomato spray Eva was talking about??? My people are in LA and eat a lot of them. 🙁

  • Reply
    Janet Smart
    August 18, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Looks like you had a great garden this year. Ours did pretty good, considering. Our potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and squash did great. Some of them a little too great. You start to get tired of squash and cucumbers after a while. I’m not a very big fan of peppers, but I got a great canning recipe from a family member and they are the best I’ve ever tasted. I think this is the recipe, though, that she said to keep in the family. You do need to keep your blueberries covered in netting! Our blueberries did great this year. We only have three bushes, but I’ve put around 20 quarts in the freezer. Later, I’m going to get some out and make jelly from them. I love blueberry jelly!

  • Reply
    Leo at Cottage at the Crossroads
    August 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Hi Tipper,
    The staggered planting has been working well for us. Our first crop was great and the second not so good. It was delicious, but not as fully developed. Cantaloupe are still producing. We just took up the rest of our tomato plants, but we had a great year and the pantry is full of tomatoes and spaghetti sauce. All in all, we had a great garden this year and it sounds like you did as well. Our squash, by the way is always hit and miss. We got some good ones and then some plants didn’t make at all. I’m getting ready for my fall planting now. As always, we enjoy reading your post.

  • Reply
    August 18, 2012 at 11:11 am

    When my husband first were married we lived in Jacksonville, AL. Our dear neighbors took us under their wings and taught us many things. Mr. Couch taught Dale about organic gardening–where to plant marigolds and garlic to keep the bugs and blight at bay. Well at the beginning, our garden was just beautiful. Soon, however, the blight started at one end and quickly destroyed it’s way through the whole garden, leaving only the Swiss chard. Mr. Couch acre of lush plants was unscathed. Dale went over and asked, “Mr. Couch how come your garden is so healthy and mine is in ruins?”
    Organic gardener, Mr. Couch, said, “Well, you did use a bit of chemical, didn’t you?” Sarah

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    August 18, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Purty, Purty, Purty! I know those Cardinals mean “Purty” when they fly around your garden!
    They have been singing “Wet, wet, wet around here lately…The temperature is cooling somewhat.
    The wild flowers are growing in the gardens…I mean the weeds are “growning” in the garden…
    I had to laugh at Jim’s comment…Once I had an abundance of white half-runners…I had canned and froze all that we needed…I offered to give them to folks…first thing asked was, “Are they picked?” My first thought was to tell them…”Sure they are, washed and broke too and on the stove with a slice of streak meat cooking, I’ll even throw in a pone of cornbread. Why just bring yore plate on over!”…LOL
    We have blueberries, but the birds beat us to them this year…but we got a few.
    We usually cover with netting…Our mennonite friends emailed that they had a bumper crop so up the mountain we went..Beautiful berries, at 1.50 a pound…she emailed me yesterday and said they were about gone, but if I wanted I could come and pick what’s left for free!..No wonder they have such great crops of berries…I am going after honey up there next week…
    Great post Tipper, and such a beautiful garden…My “plant by the signs beans” didn’t do well, I had one bean come up…but the drought and maybe a varmit (rabbit) got the others…Will let you know more along…

  • Reply
    August 18, 2012 at 9:54 am

    My pitiful garden has just about fought it’s last battle with the deer, drought and high winds. I picked a mess of green beans yesterday and will have a few more before I clean out the patch. I only picked one puny honeydew and no watermelons this year. The turnip, kale and radishes are going to love the weather we are having now.

  • Reply
    August 18, 2012 at 9:28 am

    Wow, your garden is beautiful and so big! Our garden is much smaller, but it is producing well. Our corn is just coming out now, zucchini prolific, squash is also coming along well too, but none have ripened yet. Our tomatoes are just coming out too. We have potatoes and beans, turnips we already harvested, carrots and salsify coming along, lettuces that the rabbits keep eating no matter how we try to protect them, and cantaloup that is just flowering. All in all, we are very pleased, this being our very first garden! We have also just planted a little for a fall garden…rutabaga, turnips and beets…and they are sprouting beautifully!
    It is thrilling to have a garden! Next year, we will expand a bit more so we have enough to preserve…this year, we have just enough to eat!
    Thanks for asking how my garden grows:)

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 18, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Tipper–If 40+ years of growing blueberries mean anything, I’ll offer a bit of what I’ve learned form the experience. (1) You aren’t going to beat the birds unless you are proactive. I cover mine with netting each year, and that’s an undertaking given the fact that the plants are 8-10 feet tall and the row probably 40 yards long. (2) Don’t prune. The only pruning blueberries need is to remove dead wood. (3) If the plants are shaded they are going to be much less productive. They do best in full sun. (4) Make sure the soil is plenty acidic. They want no part of lime or sweet soil. Lay the pine needle mulch to them.
    This isn’t going to help, but we had countless gallons go to waste, as is the case every year. I willingly give them away, but except for a widow lady up the street and a good friend who has sever hepatitis problems, I’m going to pick them for others. It’s strictly “I’ll give them to you but you have to pick them” deal.
    As for the yellow squash, sounds like you might have a fruit set problem.
    Finally, if I’ve depressed you a bit on the blueberries, I’ll simply say I wear the same hat. I’ve basically had to give up on corn. Between the squirrels and the ‘coons (mostly the former), I simply can’t get a crop. I can shoot 50 squirrels and a hundred take their place. About all I accomplish is irritating some PETA-type neighbors who can’t understand killing anything (but they’ll eat a steak in a minute).
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 18, 2012 at 9:01 am

    Tipper, Your report on your “staggered” garden reminded me so much of my growing up years! We had to plant “patches” of most all the vegetables to assure that we had plenty of fresh veggies from about Sept. 1 through the end of October–my father’s “syrup-making” season. He hired many “hands” then to help with harvesting the cane and working at the “syrup mill” in the syrup-making process. He “made” syrup for not only his own crop, but for all the other farmers who grew cane in a rather broad geographic area. And guess what! All the work hands–because they had no place to go to buy their lunch–feasted at our well-appointed “board”–Nothing “fancy”–just potatoes, beans, peas, squash, turnip and collard greens, tomatoes, soups, corn, and for meats–homegrown pork and chicken (the latter in the form of chicken pot pies and dumbplings–to “go far” in feeding the hungry crowd!) Had it not been for our late gardens of beans, peas, corn, tomatoes and squash, we would have been hard-pressed to feed all those hungry men and older boys (and some women, too, who “hired out” to strip the cane and cut the cane heads off the stalks). We had quite a little enterprise going, for my daddy made about 3,000 gallons of sorghum syrup per season. OOps! And I didn’t even mention the fruits and berries that made a lot of cobbler pies. But we usually had the blackberries, peaches, apples and pears canned ‘way before the syrup season came, so we’d have these to make cobbler pies for dessert during the “syrup-making” season. Good memories of my way of life in the country! Early on, I learned what hard work is all about and how much it takes to be successful at what one undertakes. Good lessons!

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    August 18, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Wow! Green with envy. In spite of efforts to ‘keep things growing’ the Sunrise Ridge garden was a bust this year.
    I guess when the ponds dry up, you just have to figure there is not enough moisture for good production and the string of 100+ days that cooked anything left.
    We chose a few things and have tried to keep them going, a couple tomato plants, squash and okra for the table.
    Corn came in before the worst of the weather so we got about half our usual crop.
    The grocery store is goijng to love me this winter as I look at my empty jars and sigh.

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    August 18, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Wow! You have had great success!
    My hat’s off to you! I only attempted green bell peppers – some critter ate the flowers until I netted the other plants. My blueberries, the few I had, were feasted upon my a living critter, not human. I had one strawberry, the rest were feasted upon by a non-human. Happy Day!

  • Reply
    August 18, 2012 at 8:20 am

    My garden has done ok…nothing spectacular this year. The weeds are taking over now…with all the HOT HUMID weather 🙁 we had this summer, I just couldn’t keep after it. By the time I was finished with barn work, the sun was high in the sky and I said “forget it!” Right now my lima beans are ready…I’ve picked 2 bushels + so far, and have 18 packs in the freezer. We LOVE lima beans. My tomatoes aren’t doing so well…I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to grow good tomatoes, except for the cherry variety. Who can’t grow tomatoes?!?!

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    August 18, 2012 at 8:01 am

    Our garden looks very good. It is a rather late garden; I waited until July to plant but the increased days of sunshine and our regular watering apparently allowed all of the plantings to grow fast and catch up. We’ve had a bumper yield of cucumbers … and radishes, of course, but the tomatoes, cantalope, corn, squash, beans and potatoes are not fully matured yet.
    It can clearly be said that you and your kids are true artists at photography. Wonderful pictures, Tipper.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    August 18, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Well Tipper, it sounds like you are busier than a beaver. Let me share a bit of ‘protection’ for the blueberries – which we have to do to have a good crop. Jim builds a ‘bird netting’ fort around the NINE bushes (3 of each variety!) we have growing in all day sunshine! We call it the James Wike FORT – like the 1770’s Fort in Knoxville (James White Fort). I trim the bushes as soon as they get through bearing so they are not too tall for our fort! In the early spring I put slow release fertilizer around each bush! This year’s crop was about a third of what we usually pick! I think it was the dry spring weather – maybe!
    Jim is now into growing tomatoes. We also have LOTS of beautiful tomatoes on our window sill! NOW I AM INSPIRED because of a news report out of Florida. The chemicals used to ‘control’ the ripening process and other factors are dreadfully harmful! NO MORE FLORIDA TOMATOES IN OUR HOUSE!!!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    August 18, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Our favorite green bean is the White Half-Runner! They are delicious and tender. When we go to TN in the summer, we always try to find someone who has them at their roadside stand. Don’t usually find them in the grocery. Of course, here in Florida, no one has ever heard of them.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    August 18, 2012 at 6:17 am

    The growing year started out great here, and I had high expectations, but then the hot weather came, and the dryness, and even though I carried water, it went downhill from there, and my garden is all finished up as of yesterday when I went out and pulled the last peppers. Sad for the middle of August.
    Overall, I did get a lot to freeze/can early on, and I am tickled with that.

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