Appalachia Gardening

How Does My Garden Grow

Sow True Seed has signed on to sponsor the Blind Pig & the Acorn’s garden this year again-and I couldn’t be happier!

A few weeks ago, Chitter and I planted Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce, Detroit Beets, Dwarf Grey Sugar Snap Peas, and Sparkler Radishes.

We have several small garden areas and a few raised beds at our house, then we share the big garden with Pap and Granny. The Deer Hunter usually uses a tiller to break up the ground in our bigger garden spots around the house-but my impatience to get early spring veggies in the ground usually means I turn those beds over good with a hoe when I first plant in the spring.

Sometime last fall, The Deer Hunter invested in a new (old) tractor to try and keep our driveway in better shape-of course taking care of gardening chores was also in the back of his mind. And a few weeks ago he was able to purchase a tiller attachment for his tractor.

I’m not sure my life will ever be the same…I mean how did I ever live without that tiller attachment?

I was about to tackle the beds with my hoe when he said “Why don’t I use the tractor?” I said “Just for that little bit?” He said “Well ain’t that why we got it-to use it?” I said “OK.”

Me and Chitter moved the rocks and logs I had separating the small beds-and lickety split I had a plowed garden. All that back breaking work done-in no more than 7 or 8 minutes time. And oh how nice it made the dirt-loose, light, and deep!

Starting tomatoes from seed

Skip back ahead to this past weekend, after fighting a miserable cold all week, we finally pulled ourselves outside Saturday. Everyone else beat me to it-I laid down and fell asleep on the couch. When I woke up I was all alone with no one left to answer my shouts of “Where’s everybody at?”

I pulled on a sweatshirt got a glass of water and went to find them. I didn’t have to look far-they were working in the greenhouse-cleaning out the grass that had grown up inside over the winter.

I sit in a chair and watched them until I was inspired to help. In a couple of hours we got all our tomato plants started. We planted: Cherokee Purples, Mountain Princess (the best tomato producer we’ve ever grown-with great taste too), Yellow and Pink Brandywines, and Cream and Sausage. Thanks to Sow True Seed-and to Cee we’re getting to try a few new Tomato varieties as well: Green Zebra, Black Cherry, and Ox Heart.

Radishes sow true seed

I was anxious to see if the seeds me and Chitter planted a few weeks ago, survived all the consecutive nights of freezing temps-I know spring veggies can stand the cold-but it’s been really cold here in southern Appalachia. But as you can see from the photo above-the seeds are up and doing good.

After the girls made us a quick lunch of left over deer meat wraps we all felt energized to tackle another project. The Deer Hunter worked his magic with his new tractor attachment and before you knew it we had a brand new garden patch. We mixed in a couple wheel barrels of mushroom compost and planted 2 rows of onions around the edges-Chitter is studying on what she wants to plant in the rest of it-I’m pushing for watermelons but we’ll see.

By this point we were all about to drop-but I said “You know it’s supposed to rain tomorrow, it’d really be good if we could get Granny and Pap’s little gardens plowed too.”

After a general pep talk we decided we could do it-so me and the girls headed down to move all the rocks, boards, and poles from Pap and Granny’s gardens and The Deer Hunter followed us on his tractor.

We got lettuce, peas, and 8 rows of onions planted for Pap and Granny. I don’t know who was happier Granny thinking about how good those fresh veggies will taste or all of us for having the chore finished.

There were a few rests along the way. Granny scolded Chatter for laying on the cold ground saying she’d catch her death of cold-Chatter said “In the current situation I don’t think that will matter much Granny.”

We were beyond tickled with everything we managed to get done-especially since we had been feeling so bad. I think it did us all good to be out in the fresh air surrounded by the beauty of spring. The only downside to the whole thing is-after me and Granny seen how well The Deer Hunter’s new tiller attachment works-there may not be a piece of yard left within a few square miles.




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  • Reply
    Celia Miles
    April 3, 2013 at 9:54 am

    I was tickled to see “garden patch” since my spellcheck/grammar check doesn’t recognize my 1880s heroine’s “potato patch”–wanting it to be potatoes patch or potato patches! In the ’50 I grew up with a cornfield and potato patch near the house.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    We hold off planting our garden here in the sandhills until after May 1; Mother Nature is just too unpredictable in NC, and there is a history of frosts beyond the middle of April, so May 1 is when I feel it’s safe to plant.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    B. ruth
    April 2, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    I wanted to comment on your post today and I did….but it must have got lost.. I actually wrote a small book. At any rate you guys sure work hard.
    The sun and crisp air chased away the cold….Vitamin D C and all.
    I also asked if you put in a herb garden like, basil, sage, thyme, chives, rosemary, oregano, dill and such.
    Also had you ever planted a spaghetti garden…of Peppers, tomatoes, basil, oregano, and onions…Great fun and they are companion plants…
    Also asked if you ever planted by COMPANION PLANTING…we do, but have to get my book out as I can’t totally remember which plants grow well together, entice, the right insects, etc.
    I pondered if you were planting marigolds around your beds to discourage bugs…also scented geraniums work well too…
    Love this post,
    PS….Love your new tiller…It drives might fine, some big boy toys are the cats pajamas…LOL
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    This has been a happy reminder that it will soon be time to start the garden chores up north here in a couple of weeks!
    I am glad to hear that you’re all feeling better and look forward to watching your gardens grow again this year!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Thank you for the comment! I loved your Mothers saying- a Robin Snow : )
    Have a great week!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Getting all that work done surely
    is a good feeling. Makes me a bit
    jealous, I ain’t seen my Tractor
    Guy! And it rains about every two
    days or so, but I’m just anxious
    to get started. It’s a good feeling working in the dirt…Ken

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 10:41 am

    “Sweet place where cares are buried with the seeds”, now that is a statement! You know, work can bury or take away cares. Who else other than Ethelene would think of that? I love your poem Ethelene!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    April 2, 2013 at 10:30 am

    I saw the big yellow tractor in a picture a few days ago. I thought maybe it belonged to Pap or big brother Steve or somebody in the neighborhood had loaned it out. Now I find out it is part of the Pressley Estate. And it has a tiller attachment. Talk about the big time. Talk about somebody that’s got it made. Does he have other attachments? A box blade? A scrape blade? A bush hog? A sickle bar mower? A hay turner? A bailer? A turning plow? A disc harrow? A four row planter? A trailer? A backhoe? A front bucket? Forks to lift a pallet? Does the front attachment have tilt and side shift? Is he working on a building to house it all yet? Can’t let all that equipment get wet!
    The Deer Hunter has it made! All that and a wife that ain’t afraid to get her hands dirty. And girl twins just like her! And in laws with a wealth of knowledge! He is living every mountain man’s dream!
    I wish I lived closer. I could come to the Jamboree and the Big Yellow Tractor could visit my little garden!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 10:18 am

    good morning from Ontario Canada
    I love reading about your gardens
    and your stories.
    Not much to do out side here, we got fresh snow over night
    and the ground in my back yard is still frozen solid!
    we always start tomatoes and peppers in the house end of march;
    but it’ll be a while before were planting anything around here.
    we have seen a robin and some red wing black birds, so its all good.
    thank you again for the music ,
    Love Bonnie

  • Reply
    steve in tn
    April 2, 2013 at 9:38 am

    hope your garden does well. i am anxious to start. i have about 120 hot peppers started and beets and potatoes in the ground. i always enjoy your garden updates.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 2, 2013 at 9:36 am

    That’s a lot of work for sick people and the one laying down was the only one not sick.
    I don’t know how you guys managed it!
    The Deer hunter told me about the new tiller for his tractor but this is my first glimpse of it. It’s looking like it does a really fine job.
    I see Carol, from Sow True, occasionally. They are as pleased with your partnership as you are. Their whole goal is providing good quality seeds and they certainly succeed in that goal.
    I can’t wait for those tomatoes. They are gonna be soooooo good!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 9:06 am

    I am beginning to wish I had a Deer Hunter of my own! Or at least, a tractor 😉

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 8:50 am

    I slept on the ground one year at a softball tournament with the Softball Princess. I didn’t catch my death of cold, but I did get chiggers…….
    Hope you are feeling better

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I am so jealous! Thanks for the tip about the Mountain Princess tomatoes. I’ve been wanting to try a different variety. At this point, guess I will have to buy the plants from the local greenhouse. The Cherokee Purple and Pink Brandywines I planted a month or so ago have survived with the help of artifical light.

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Sounds like everything is in full swing in your neck of the woods! We are still dealing with some very cold mornings but its supposed to warm up by the weekend. I can’t wait!

  • Reply
    April 2, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Wow! Your family’s farming skills are amazing. It was thrilling for me to read about your daughter’s participation. She is a true worker along with you and your husband. Thank goodness for his new ‘toy!’

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    April 2, 2013 at 8:09 am

    🙂 Hubby and I just had a long discussion about getting our garden tilled.
    Frosty here on Sunrise Ridge yet again this morning. Hopeful that we will be able to at least till and get lettuce, radishes and onions in this weekend.
    Like Zgranny, I am looking forward to fresh veggies, and of course, the promise of good things to put in jars or the freezer for the winter that will, no doubt, be upon us later on.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    April 2, 2013 at 8:09 am

    Sounds like the Blind Pig gang is too busy to get into mischief!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    April 2, 2013 at 8:06 am

    What a beautiful story of a family working to get the spring garden “turned” and planted! And such cooperation! We used to do the same thing in our garden and “patches” when I was a child, except at first if any big “turning” of the land was required beyond our digging, our mules hooked to our faithful turning plow and other implements were our means of power until my Daddy got his first tractor. This brought back such good memories of our Good Friday plantings.
    I also thought of the words by Dorothy Frances Gurney in “Garden Thoughts”:
    “The kiss of the sun for pardon
    The song of the birds for mirth,
    One is nearer God’s heart in the garden
    Than anywhere else on earth.”
    And I’ll add my little poem:
    The Joy of a Garden
    Give me a plot of ground, a hoe,
    A mattock, some turned-up earth
    And seeds and plants to go
    Within this loamy soil, its girth
    Covering,caressing as gentle rain
    Falls and sunshine bathes the plot
    Soon I will see green growth and gain
    A sense of Eden’s garden spot,
    Sweet place where cares are buried
    with the seeds
    And happiness shines forth so bright
    Its satisfaction tends and feeds
    A soul restored, amended and set right.
    A garden has this power of healing balm:
    To grow beauty, fulfillment, enduring calm.
    -Ethelene Dyer Jones
    We will be looking forward to your garden’s growth and how well it will produce! Thank you for sharing! This is exciting!
    And if I were nearer Martin’s Creek, I would attend the Jamboree and listen to and cheer on all of you! Best wishes!

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    April 2, 2013 at 7:56 am

    I turned over the soil (by hand) in my garden here in MD yesterday. It’s too early to plant anything. I’m anxious to get spring onions in the ground and some salad greens. Our frost date is May 15, but I usually plant a few things well before that. Our ramps aren’t even up in the woods yet. We had a ‘Robin Snow’ (as my mother always called the spring snow) on Monday a week ago. About 5 inches, but just pretty more than messy. My favorite tomato is an heirloom Black tomato. The skin can be peeled off easily with your fingers and the taste is superb for eating or cooking. Looking forward to those. I may have to try some True Seed, I’m a fan of the heritage varieties. I have been planting beans I got from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for decades – all started from the first 7 seeds I planted. Lucky you to have so many hands to help in your gardens.

  • Reply
    Jane Bolden
    April 2, 2013 at 7:43 am

    Mary Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockleshells and pretty maidens in a row.
    No telling how many times I’ve recited this for my grandchildren.
    I’m telling my age, but I remember a mule and plow in my backyard when I was little. Boy things have changed.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    April 2, 2013 at 7:39 am

    I believe nothing feels as good as the satisfaction of work done. Seeing your pictures and reading your words put a big smile on my face. Each of you working for the good of the family and then for Pap and Granny…that’s just the way every family should be. God bless you all!

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