Appalachia Gardening

How Does My Garden Grow?

Growing a Spring Garden in Appalachia

Our warmer than usual weather has my Spring garden thriving. With Miss Cindy’s help I got all my tomato seedlings transplanted into larger containers-and now they’re growing like crazy.

Lizards in appalachia

I’m so glad I listened to The Deer Hunter last Spring-having my very own greenhouse to start my seedlings in has been truly wonderful. The greenhouse is so homey-I find myself wanting to sneak out there and use it as a hideout. As you can see from the photo I’m not the only one who likes the green house-meet Bob the lizard.

Purple asparagus

My asparagus is up-and if I’d quit eating a piece every time I walk to the greenhouse I might have enough for a meal.

Green onions

Green onions are up and reaching for the sky.


I believe these fragile shoots are Salsify-I’m not sure because I’ve never grown the plant before-but that’s where I planted the seeds I got from Sow True Seed-who’s sponsoring my garden this year. Salsify is also called oyster plant. I can’t wait to see if it actually tastes like oysters-but it may be next year before I get to harvest any of the roots to see.

Leaf lettuce

Spinach and leaf lettuce are coming right along. I’m especially excited to see my spinach bed growing so well because last year neither my spring nor fall planting of spinach produced much.

Sugar snap peas

The sugar snap peas seem to grow by leaps and bounds every night. I’m trying out Sow True Seeds Dwarf Grey Sugar Snap Pea for the first time this year. I love sugar snap peas but having to string something for them to grow on is always a pain-but this is a bush variety-so The Deer Hunter gets off easy on this one.

Even though all the plants above are ahead of their usual growing schedule-I’m not worried about them. If old man winter decides to throw one more heavy frost at us-all the outside plants above can stand it-and the tomatoes will still be safe away from him in the greenhouse.

Fruit plants bloomed out way to early in western nc

But I am worried about the 3 plants above-its way too early for them to be this far along in their growing cycle-I’m just keeping my fingers crossed Old Man Winter has vacated the premises till sometime next fall.

How does your garden grow?



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  • Reply
    April 3, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    We haven’t started ours yet because we usually wait until the last of the yellow pollen flies before we take all the many houseplants outside and use their spaces inside for seedling planting. Still, the lettuce, shallots and chives have come back up again, right where they were last year. With the exceedingly mild winter we had, they didn’t get hit hard – and that kinda has me wondering if the summer drought will be especially hard this year. Last year the garden watering cost us plenty – plenty we really can’t afford.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    March 29, 2012 at 6:52 am

    Hi Bob!!
    The only garden growing here is my herb garden and it’s doing exceptionally well.
    I’ve never really planted a spring garden before.
    But this post tells me I need to start.
    I have been fighting spring fever for awhile now. I’m trying to give it until atleast April 1st before I start getting things in the ground.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    March 28, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    All my early stuff is up: peas, lettuce, spinach, carrots, beets, potatoes, cabbage.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    March 28, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    I can already taste all that homegrown goodness!

  • Reply
    Gorges Smythe
    March 28, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Only raised a little Indian corn and some tomatoes last year. The corn was a bust (too much rain early) and the deer got all the tomatoes but one. (It was delicious!)

  • Reply
    March 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    This also reminds me of a nursery
    rhyme we taught my first daughter.
    “Mistress Mary, Quite contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow? With
    Silver Bells and Cockel Shells, and Pretty Maids All in a Row.”
    By the way, my lead dog, Topper
    catches those dry land lizzards
    and just peals ’em like an apple.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    Your tomato seedlings look very hardy! I so envy you your longer growing season, my lettuce is just now coming up. We had a freeze here a few nights ago, and experience would suggest we’ll get at least one more. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you.
    Bob is very charming, I hope we’ll see more of him this season!

  • Reply
    Brenda Kay Ledford
    March 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    This is great. You’ve already started gardening. I can hardly wait to get outside, start digging in the dirt, and start gardening. This beautiful warm weather just puts me into the mood to put out my vegetable garden soon.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    March 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Beautiful garden! I’m hoping for a greenhouse, that may be the only way I can really grow much here. I wonder if I can grow asparagus? Haven’t tried yet, but we all love it.
    My daughter finds a skink around here every summer, there are a fun find but more rare than our lizards.
    Happy Spring, Tipper!!

  • Reply
    March 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    This sure makes me want to get my
    hands in the dirt. Your veggies
    look nice and strong. I’m really
    glad you and the Deer Hunter got
    your Greenhouse up and going last
    year. I’m still waiting on my
    tractor guy to come back and harr
    my garden…Ken

  • Reply
    Lonnie L. Dockery
    March 28, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Wow! Tipper that greenhouse really did get you ahead! I barely have lettuce and onions–and I put the onions out last October and covered them up! Maybe I’ll get busy this weekend.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    March 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    Oh, I’m so glad Jim said it first! I was gonna say that your fella/gal is what I used to call a skink!
    We had two nights of below freezing temperatures up here in the North Country. Luckily, all the flowering plants we have are used to our climate and I didn’t see anything badly frozen. The Michigan fruit crops, though, may be taking a hit. I couldn’t bear it if the cherries and peaches didnt make it. Apples should be okay. I can’t put anything tender in the ground until early May – even though it was well over 80 degrees last week. We could get snow (and have gotten) as late as late April.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    We had an article in our local paper on Phenology…About climate and planting according to what’s blooming. It said to plant tomatoes when the dogwoods are in full bloom ! Yikes! I’d be afraid to plant tomatoes now. I picked three Morels in my yard a few days ago. They come up in a different place every year. It’s like an Easter egg hunt to find them. And my lilac bush is in full bloom. Very interesting Spring! Your garden is looking good.And love the surprise critter visits.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Paul-They say spreading human hair around keeps deer away. If I had any, I’d send it to you. You could check with a local barber shop or beauty parlor. I’ve never tried it, but a lot of people swear by it.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2012 at 11:32 am

    I’m hoping its not too late to start our garden, we will be arriving at the cabin next week…then we have to prep the ground and plant…I know we are late, but still hopeful:)

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    March 28, 2012 at 10:48 am

    The only things that my garden produces is deer. They eat everything else, ansd living in the city we can’t do anything to stop it. We quit gardening years ago, but are thinking of trying again this year. Normally, we can’t plant until late May. We have had some real warm days this spring, but a hard frost Tuesday would have damaged or killed most vegetables. We do have tulips blooming, except the ones the deer keep eating.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Yikes! I am way behind!!!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    March 28, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Way to go!…Wow, your green thumb is showing big time…What a lovely little varmit to have in the greenhouse to catch the little bugs…
    All our trees are blooming and leafed out…The radishes, lettuce and onions are up in the raised bed…
    The signs got mixed up with the rain so we are late to plant some things having to wait on the ground to dry some and the next best signs…
    Your tomatoes looked great and by planting time should be a good size…
    Jim..our small crop of morels under the crabapples multiplied this year…since we left some and also shook some (spores)around closer to the tree…
    For cutworms we use any little broken pieces of stick about two inches long and stick a couple right along side the plant stem…He plants, I put the match type sticks along side the stem..we also do this for any other little starter plants like cucumber etc…of course we plant seeds too…but we like a few jumpers…LOL
    Thanks Tipper, for a great look at your garden…PS..Our asparagus is slow starting…we also suspect deer and ground hogs..Would the 9 wild turkeys we saw in the yard, eat our asparagus…

  • Reply
    Wanda in NoAla
    March 28, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Your garden is looking good. I have several things out, but am a little bit uncomfortable about it…just don’t trust the weather. After all, it is still March! Love your blog.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 28, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Tipper—I couldn’t resist a second “helping” after seeing Miss Cindy’s reply. I reckon she’ll now be known as “Leadfoot Cindy,” leading those poor patrolmen on chases through the mountains. That leads one to wonder whether she had some training in younger years hauling the liquid product the late and lamented Popcorn Sutton used to produce? For what it’s worth, Don and my maternal grandmother was powerful bad to speed. She had a ‘49 Hudson Hornet for many years after she became a widow, and she made that thing buzz like an angry hornet, picking up a number of tickets in the process. She was also a squirrel huntin’ fool and I’ve got a photo of her in one of those old mountain dresses which reach to the ground holding a .22 in one hand and a bunch of bushytails in the other.
    While I’m pickin’ and pokin’, I won’t get into the gender of the “lizard” but I think it’s a skink, not a lizard.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Tipper—We are about two weeks ahead of you, weather-wise, here in upstate S. C. We’ve had about half a dozen messes of asparagus, and two of them came with sauteed morel mushrooms (not homegrown but gathered from my hunting property) as part of the meal. I’ve got in Kennebec potatoes, sweet onion sets, Black-seed Simpson lettuce (which is the leaf lettuce you show in the photo), broccoli, cabbage, and kale. I also set out 96 tomato plants (32 each of Lemon Boy, Early Girl, and Cherokee Purple) although those $%#@^& cutworms have gotten about half a dozen of them. I’ll plant some heirloom varieties later that I grew from seed. I’ve also planted dill, chives, basil, parsley, and coriander, and our perennial herbs (oregano, garlic, and lemon chives) are up and flourishing. This week squash, zucchini, beans, and some other things are to go into the ground, and the flower garden needs quite a bit of attention as well. It’s a busy time of year, and if I don’t get stuff done before April 1 (turkey opener) a lot gets left behind.
    I’ve even gotten enough morels to dry some for soup or mushrooms and buttered noodles later—a real luxury.
    I love being a dirt dauber, as a local “plant lady” styled me years ago (she said: “Why you’re not a university professor, you’re just an old dirt dauber”). I don’t know that I’ve ever been paid a finer compliment.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    March 28, 2012 at 9:19 am

    I can’t wait to see more green in my garden…other than the weeds that the rototiller didn’t kill. 🙂 My onions are peeping through, but I’m still waiting for my lettuce, radishes, beets and potatoes to come up. Love, love, love this season!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    March 28, 2012 at 9:07 am

    Everything looks wonderful, I will invite myself for dinner about the time they get ready.

  • Reply
    Jen Y
    March 28, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I had my first asparagus yesterday but I’m trying not to eat anymore for a few days. I want to save it for company this weekend – we never get to eat it this early usually.
    We’re like a lot of the country, everything is early & our last frost date is mid to late April.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2012 at 8:48 am

    I am having pinto beans and corn bread for supper…your onions and lettuce would sure be good with it!:)

  • Reply
    March 28, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I am so jealous that your garden is that far along–mind still need to be cleaned out from all the winter debrie have done some cleaning but no planting .

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    March 28, 2012 at 8:21 am

    green onions, tomatoes, asparagus — you have a veritable feast! Love those ‘mater sandwiches 🙂

  • Reply
    dolores barton
    March 28, 2012 at 8:13 am

    You are reminding me that I had better get my thumbs in gear and start planting. Everything looks wonderful – a green thumb you do have!

  • Reply
    Bill Dotson
    March 28, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Tipper you can dig some of your salsify in late fall it does tast like oysters scalloped, mom used to dig hers late fall to early spring and she would freeze a bunch of it for winter use if she dug it before the ground froze too solid, dad loved it scalloped, I had some a few years ago and it was also tasty but it is hard to grow here because it has a hard time getting between the rocks, have a good day all.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    March 28, 2012 at 7:45 am

    There’s nothing so invigoraing to be a part of as “Green Things Growing”! Thanks for taking us on a tour of your early-spring garden today. Mine is somewhat limited now-a-days to flowers and a little later tomatoes and maybe a few other plants in pots. No space like I used to have for that big spread of garden! So take us to yours so we can experience gardening through your success! Best wishes!

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    March 28, 2012 at 7:34 am

    All of your stuff looks really good. I’ve only planted peas, spinach and lettuce and am in no hurry to get the rest of my stuff in.
    They’re saying around here that anytime after April 18th we’ll be safe to plant anything/everything. Mmmmm?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 28, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Tipper, this year when I eat the tomatoes from your garden I’ll know I helped!
    I love the spring when things start to lush up. Reaffirming life is happening everywhere.
    You and the Deer Hunter are so busy doing so much these days I don’t know how you keep up.
    It was fun being with you all this weekend. Looks like I’ll be back in May to take care of that speeding ticket I got on my trip there. LOL

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 28, 2012 at 5:17 am

    Those green onions, spinach and lettuce are looking good enough to eat already. Now which weekend was it that nobody would be home?
    So you have a watch lizard to defend your crops. Well, I ain’t skeered!
    How did you know to call the lizard Bob? It’s hard to tell from the picture but looks like it could be an Alice to me.

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