Appalachia Gardening

How Does My Garden Grow – July 5th?

As I sit at and type this post we desperately need rain. I know more than a few of you are experiencing the same need and then there are those of you who desperately need to get rid of the rainy mess you’ve been living in over the past several weeks. Such is the way of weather.

Our Sow True Seed Trucker’s Favorite Corn is coming right along, although there’s no tassling yet.

Our Sow True Seed beans are blooming but man they need some water to help them produce. The Yonce Bean that we’re growing for the first time is about a week or so away from the first picking.

The squash and cukes are producing good for us this year, and if we had a little more moisture I do believe we’d have a bumper crop of both.

Sow True Seed’s heirloom tomatoes are looking good. Mountain Princess has been the first to ripen for us (it usually is) so that’s the only variety we’ve been enjoying so far.

The pumpkins, watermelons, winter squash, and sweet peppers are growing, but like the rest of the garden they sorely need some rain.

I’m still so excited about our first fruiting of grapes! There’s not that many, but still so exciting! The apples are looking good. This year looks to be our largest harvest yet.

Most of our blueberries are the late bearing variety. The few early bearing bushes haven’t fared well in the dry weather. All but a few of the blueberries shriveled and dried up.

The ground cherries that grow abundantly through the garden seem to be making it just fine. I picked enough blackberries for a run of jelly over the weekend so they are hanging in there too.


Chatter’s herbs are doing pretty good. A few didn’t make it, and I’m not sure what she’s going to do with the ones that did, but I’m sure she’ll come up with something.

Even though Granny’s garden is just down the hill it seems to be suffering worse from the dry weather than ours. Maybe its the difference in the soil or drainage.

She was able to harvest most of the cabbage Pap and Chitter planted back in early spring. Granny made kraut with most of the cabbage. She said it seems especially pretty and white in the jars.

Leave a comment and tell us how your garden is doing.



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  • Reply
    July 12, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you for the comment! Wow that is a weird occurrence! I’ve had squirrels and birds dig up a few of my seeds but I’ve never had them completely disappear. Maybe one of the other readers will chime in a with an idea about what could have happened : )

  • Reply
    Chris Smith
    July 11, 2016 at 10:33 am

    Hey Tipper, the garden looks lovely. There are some great pictures here 🙂

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 7, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Tipper—Thanks to Jackie for his thoughts on buckeye blight. I knew it was a fungus (and have done) most of what she suggests. I didn’t have it at all until four or five years ago although I‘ve always fought blossom-end rot, and I’m guessing I “inherited” it from store-bought plants. The one thing Jackie suggests that I haven’t done is fumigating the soil. I’ll have to look into that although fumigating a garden as large as mine could be a pretty big undertaking. However, with my wife’s health situation I probably ought to be cutting back anyway since I give away most of what I grow.
    As a sort of give-and-take of the kind that makes this aspect and related ones of the blog so much fun, I’ll offer some thoughts on chestnuts for Mike McClain (who gets my monthly newsletter and has probably given me a bit of grist for a fall rendition a few months down the road). The sprout he has with a few burrs is in all likelihood going to break his heart. Chances are very high that it is (1) A sucker from old American chestnut root stock that has sprouted up. If that is the case it will grow a few more years and then start dying. It is amazing that trees that died in WNC about 85 years ago (blight got to the area in 1930 and 1931) still retain sufficient vitality to send up shoots, (2) A Chinese chestnut carried from some neighbor’s place and planted by a squirrel, or (3) Not a chestnut at all but a chinquapin. Both are of the castanea genus. Once the nuts mature he’ll know if it’s a chinquapin, and if it is on recently cleared or burned land chances are good that is what it is. If it’s a chestnut he’ll probably need experts in Asheville to differentiate. I’ve fooled around, looked at, written about, and researched chestnuts a lot. I can readily tell whether a mature tree is a Chinese chestnut but that’s not the case otherwise.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    July 7, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Tipper, a quick question for you. I’ve never had this happen before. A friend at work gave me some pink tip seeds that he had saved from his crop from last summer. He had kept them in a zip top bag in the freezer. Anyways, I planted them in a whole raised bed a couple of weeks ago and kept waiting for them to come up. After not one coming up, last night I dug the whole bed up and couldn’t find any sign on at least one seed! It’s like they all disappeared! No digging in the bed, no tracks, not a trace of anything. Have you ever seen this? Thanks again for such a great blog!

  • Reply
    July 6, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Barbara-thank you for the comment! You can read go here to see how Granny makes her kraut:

  • Reply
    July 6, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Jim-thanks for the comments! Yep my ground cherries are from the ones you gave me several years ago. You said theyd come back every year and you were right!

  • Reply
    July 6, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Harry-thank you for the comments and for the tips about enriching the soil! The gourd looking tomato is called Yellow Pear. This is the first year weve grown it. You can see the details on Sow True Seeds website.

  • Reply
    Dee Parks
    July 5, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Your garden looks fantastic!!! My few little pots of tomato, bell pepper, cucumbers and squash are coming along but not as big as yours. But the corn fields here in Southern PA are looking great and some of the early corn I have tasted is really delicious.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 5, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    David-My grammaw had a big June Apple tree in her pasture. She forbade us to eat them until after the 4th of July. She couldn’t even see the tree from her house but we respected her orders and the ones that fell off before the 4th were consumed by the cows. Some of the apples did ripen in June but most waited until the middle of July.
    Some of the apples had candy in the center. They looked just like the rest but the more you ate the sweeter they got and the harder they got. Near the core the flesh was almost clear and as sweet as sugar. Only a small percentage were “candy apples” and there was no way to predict them. I wonder if anybody else has experienced them.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    July 5, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Tipper, when we were kids back in East Tennessee (way east, Tri-Cities) there was a very common apple tree, we called them “June apples” or “June Apple Trees”. Lots of people had them and they were … well, everywhere. The apples were yellow, of varying size, kinda like some apples that are called “transparent” apples, but yellow … pale yellow. This time of the year they should be everywhere but I have not seen a “June Apple Tree” anywhere. Maybe it’s not soon enough, yet this year.
    Do you know “June Apple Trees”?

  • Reply
    July 5, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    We’ve been having a lot of rain in Richmond, Virginia. We are eating zucchini, yellow squash, and cucumbers. The snaps (green beans) should be ready soon, and our tomato plants are full of green tomatoes. Can’t wait for some fried tomatoes. My husband is going to plant lettuce, spinach, and collards for the fall.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Despite the lack of rain recently, looks like most of your garden is looking great. This morning at the house, it just poured for a few minutes. My branch got plum muddy
    for awhile, but when I got to the shop (about 8 or 9 miles down the road) , the sun was already out again. Hadn’t rained a drop yet, but we’ll have some soon…Ken

  • Reply
    July 5, 2016 at 11:45 am

    For Jim Buckeye rot is a fungus. Rotate where you plant, water deep and less frequently and mulch to keep fruit off the ground. If that doesn’t work you may need to fumigate the soil.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2016 at 11:44 am

    Any tips for how to handle deer helping themselves to the garden? Might make good blog material.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2016 at 11:34 am

    We have a lot of blueberries – we pick 3-4 gals per week from 5 bushes. Two others are later ripening but have started just this week.
    I’ve been giving away about 10-12 gals of cucumbers per week.
    I’m freezing 4-5 quarts of tomatoes each day for soup next Winter.
    Okra is just beginning to yield more than I can eat so I’ll be freezing some of that soon.
    I’ve sampled a few hills of potatoes – looks like a fair crop – just small.
    Early corn is in the freezer and late corn looks puny.
    Melons and grapes should be ready by the end of July.
    I need to slow down and not plant so much next year. At age 74 the heat and humidity are hard on me. (I think and say this every year.

  • Reply
    anita griffith
    July 5, 2016 at 11:28 am

    I got my garden out late.Ground was too wet to plow.We are still getting plenty of rain and everything is doing good except some of my tomatoes the deer have cropped.
    My dad always said when his garden was doing good,that it was rank.If the corn was really growing fast,he would say it was twisting it’s tail.Has anyone else heard rank and twisting used like that?

  • Reply
    harry adams
    July 5, 2016 at 10:52 am

    I got a late start due to a long vacation, but it may have been good since Ohio was dry in our area for about a month. We got 3 1/2 inches rain in one night a week or so ago and have gotten a few showers since. I was glad to see it for the farmer’s soy beans more than my garden. I don’t have near the expense in planting as he has.
    I think everything came up in record time and is not lacking for water now.
    A tip on how to help when dry weather hits is to get as much organic material in the soil as you can. I use leaves from the village for mulch every year and have built the soil up to where it can stand several weeks without rain. It takes effort to put out the leaves, but not as much as weeding or watering. City people will generally be glad to get rid of leaves and don’t believe the old wives tales about walnut tree leaves killing the soil. The only real thing needed is to lime the soil in the winter.
    I am amazed when I go back to SC with the red clay soil there to see how many people do not try to build up the soil. I have told my brother and cousins to use old hay which is in abundance around their farms but they do not listen.
    What are the gourd like tomatoes shown in the picture? Are they good pasta tomatoes? They look similar to large Romas. Let us know what they look like when ripe. I am going to look at Sow True Seeds site to see if I can find them.

  • Reply
    eva nell mull wike, PhD
    July 5, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Tipper: All your wonderful details about those wonderful vegetables make me homesick for the Matheson Cove – where we grew almost all the veggies you are growing. Best of rain and sunshine!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    July 5, 2016 at 10:20 am

    10:15 AM July 5–doppler radar shows a patch of rain headed toward Brasstown. I hope it helps!

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 5, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Tipper—It was dry as a Texas cow chip here until late yesterday afternoon when .72 inches of rain made an already visible difference. You aren’t as dry as I was prior to that or the corn you show would be shriveled and curled up like rhododendron leaves in bitterly cold weather. I’m picking lots of blueberries and the birds are picking even more. My plants are so tall—nine to ten feet—and the rows so wide it is all but impossible to cover them with netting. I get what I need, share with others, and the birds get lots as well.
    I’m having real problems, for the second year in a row, with buckeye rot on my tomatoes. If any of your readers have suggestions I’d welcome them.
    Also, I’m curious as to whether the ground cherries came from seeds of those I gave you several years ago. Once established, you’ll have them pretty much from then on unless you are at real pains to pull them up. One of my many fond memories of my Grandpa Joe is being in his corn field in late summer and feasting on ripe ground cherries. Talk about a pick-and-eat treat—they offered it. The chickens loved ‘em too.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Dry as dust here. I’m watering just to keep things alive, but everything seems stunted. Trying not to worry, as it’s still early in the season here, but I’m wondering if it’s worth planting anything else at this point.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 5, 2016 at 9:37 am

    Tipper your garden looks like ours did a few weeks ago…The cucumbers were making good, except wilting leaves during the hot sun…I picked Kens beans and now they are trying to put on more even in this drought…Tomatoes are just hanging in there…we are getting some sun glow and sweet 100’s for salads…a few for slicing….My Asian beans and Asian cucumbers are drying up…even though we broke down and watered some at night…The zucchini and yellow squash is producing well and are still putting on blooms…Okra is small but making pods, we ate some last night…Tater vines in large garden are starting to die, so I doubt we will have taters of any size…This has been the worst year for drought on our hill in years….Made a blackberry cobbler last week but had to add some peaches to fill out the four cups of fruit that my recipe calls far…They too are small and drying up…we usually can pick blackberries In parts of our (shady evening) garden way past the fourth of July….Blueberries have fed the birds, what didn’t dry up…We are going to the blueberry farm (about a hour away) this morning for a gallon or so. The lady at the shed just told us they also have their first picking of peaches this morning too….So YEA and double YEA! I LOVE ME SOME HOMEGROWN PEACHES!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS….We have been eating our little purty apples….so have the deer! ha
    Thanks Tippe.

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    July 5, 2016 at 9:18 am

    We are needing water also, but I don’t really have a garden, just some newly planted landscape material that gets a steady watering from us until roots get themselves established.
    I have been picking wild blackberries tgat seem to be doing fine in the dry weather. Made 30 8-oz jars of blackberry jam and about a gallon of frozen blackberries in the freezer.
    I have discovered what appear to be American Chestnut trees on my property. I have examined a lot of pictures of the leaves of Beech, Chinese Chestnut, Chinquapin, etc. and these look like the real deal. I understand that American Chestnut trees are quite plentiful, but they don’t grow very large until the chestnut blight kills them. The exciting thing about this tree, about 7 feet tall, is that it bloomed and now has about a dozen chestnut burrs on it. Looking forward to the fall to see if we get any chestnuts in the burrs.
    I joined the American Chestnut Foundation, headquartered in Asheville, and I need to get some leaves and twigs to them to determine if these are really American Chestnut.
    Picked about a cup of wild blueberries from a bush that was here before we were. They are so small, but taste good.

  • Reply
    July 5, 2016 at 9:09 am

    We desperately needed rain and got plenty in the last two days. They predicted 3-4 inches in this area, but I’m sure we got much more. My garden was planted three weeks later than normal due to the wet spring. The only thing I have ready is the zucchini that is coming on faster than I can use it. Last years green beans bloomed their heart out and never produced any beans. I planted in the wrong sign! Now I know why Mom paid such close attention to the almanac. Our family couldn’t have survived if the crops had failed. Mom always thought the whiter the kraut the prettier it was.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 5, 2016 at 8:45 am

    I am still watering and it still looks as if I will havee to indefinitely. I just can’t seem to water enough to do more than just keep them alive. I planted more beans than ever before but it doesn’t look like we will ever pick enough to can again. I am gradually giving up on some things and dropping back to water less.
    I was glad to see your reference to ground cherries. My Grandma had them in her garden but as far as I know never planted them. They just volunteered and she would leave them scattered around. I must have eaten thousands as a kid but have not even seen one in years and years. I always liked them.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (misplaced Southerner)
    July 5, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Here in Michigan, we’re having the same problem – no rain. I can say – with certainty – that this is the first year since we moved up north that I’m glad I DON’T have a garden. I worry so about all the farmers in the state. The cherry crop is one of the largest on record, but if we don’t get rain soon, apples, peaches, corn, and virtually every other crop will be poor. I talked with several of the local, small farmers at the Farmers’ Market, and there is grave concern.
    Sure hope everyone who needs rain gets it soon – and those poor folks dealing with flooding in West Virginia dry out.

  • Reply
    Barbara trent
    July 5, 2016 at 7:54 am

    How does Granny make her kraut?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 5, 2016 at 6:47 am

    Oh, your garden is looking very good, I see lots of canning coming!

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