Appalachia Gardening

Planting By The Signs July 2014

Planting calendar for july 2014

We’re having another rainy summer here in the southern Appalachian Mountains. I’m hoping its not a total washout like last summer…but things sure could use a good drying out. If only we could send our excess rain to those of you who desperately need it.

The gardens here at the house are holding their own for now. The big garden isn’t fairing as well-sadly reminiscent of last summer’s garden.

Heirloom apples in western nc


Our first ever apples are coming along nicely. There isn’t that many of them but hopefully each year’s harvest will increase. The early blueberries are almost ripe and the late bearing ones are looking good so far.

Growing green beans in western nc


The Sow True Seed beans in our small garden are thriving-

Sow true seed bean blooms


with both the bush beans and the greasy back beans in full bloom. The beans in the big garden aren’t doing as well. A combination of too much rain and not enough sunshine is holding them back. Some serious tree trimming needs to take place to allow more sunshine to reach the big garden before next year.

Sow true seed squash blooms


The squash plants are huge! All my varieties seem to be doing well-I’m just hoping the rain lets up for a few days so they can dry out. Some of Pap’s plants have set fruit only to drop the tiny squash off into the damp soil.

Sow true seed black cherry tomato


Tomatoes are doing very well-most of our plants are loaded down-although we haven’t had the first ripe one yet. I can’t wait for the first Black Cherry.

Along with the rain our area has had strong winds with the frequent storms. No injuries-no major damage that I’m aware of-but plenty of downed trees. A week ago I came home and the gentleman down the road had 2 huge black walnut trees down-their roots waving high in the wet gloomy air like tentacles. A maple in his front yard had spit down the middle leaving its massive limbs almost in the highway. He told Pap he was right there and watched the destruction happen.

This evening’s storm was mostly wind and rain. Me and the girls had been down at Paul’s for our usual pickin’ and grinnin’ session. We left during a break in the weather. The sky was eerily dark as we jumped into the car and headed up the hill. The pines were whipping along the ridge above the house. I said “Let’s make a run for it and let’s get the instruments in case one of those trees decide to come down.”

Chitter ran in while Chatter and I got the bass and the guitar out of the back. We literally had to walk less than 20 feet to get in the house. The rain was coming sideways and by the time we got in the house it looked like someone had thrown a bucket of water on us. We stood in the kitchen and laughed at how wet we were.

After the storm passed The Deer Hunter went out to look at the damage. He said a lot of our tomatoes were broken and twisted from the wind. I said “Well look on the bright side.” He said “And what exactly is the bright side of that?” I said “Well at least our corn is so puny it wasn’t big enough to blow down : )”

Such is the life of a gardener.


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  • Reply
    Granny Sue
    July 5, 2014 at 7:33 am

    We’ve had lots of rain too, Tipper, but on this hill it doesn’t cause as much trouble. Fortunately the trees blocked the wind from the tomatoes and our corn was too small to be affected. The grapes have blighted–again–so there will not be many.The pictures you posted show some healthy plants and hopefully a good harvest. Gardening–it’s probably something that should be recommended to gamblers as a replacement for their addiction. It’s about as chancy as the slot machines!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    So goes the life of a farmer, or gardener; too much or too little of everything. We need rain now; the first of June it seemed to have rained a little almost every day. Now the skies get dark, thunder rolls, but the rain clouds separate and we get nothing. But we have had good things from our small garden. Not so good ~ grasshoppers now!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks so much for the song Kentucky. It is one of my favorites and done so beautifully I enjoyed it so much. Judith from Exie, Ky.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    July 1, 2014 at 7:12 am

    We had a granddaddy of a storm here this morning! Wind was whipping and the rain was literally screaming! Our power kept going on and off. We actually had two of three of our “kids” (German Shepherd Dogs) climb into the bed with us. Got kinda crowded! We left before light to get to work, so I’m a little worried about what we’ll find when we get home tonight. Sure hope no trees came down on my flowers. I also will have to check my only crop – a single Cherokee purple I’m trying in an old wine barrel in the only sunny spot in our yard.

  • Reply
    Eldonna Ashley
    July 1, 2014 at 1:51 am

    I was thinking that the bright side of the damage to the tomato plants was that you could make fried green tomatoes!

  • Reply
    June 30, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Ed-I’m not laughing : ) Thats a trick I’ve always wanted to try. Pap said years ago Aud Ashe grew the best crop of watermelons you ever seen. He used your method of drip irrigation-a container with holes punched in it-to make sure they stayed moist.
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 30, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Nobody better not laugh at my weird ideas. Everybody tries stuff like that but I’m the only one that tells about it even when it don’t work right. My milk jug irrigation system works fine if you rinse out all the milk first.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 30, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Strangely enough it’s been too dry here in my part of Eastern Burke County. We get the dark angry clouds, the gusty winds and brief downpours but only for a few minutes. Then the hot sun comes back out. Only about a half inch of the soil gets wet and it dries up quickly. My Daddy told me long ago that weather like this is worse than no rain because the roots grow toward the surface.
    My little garden plot tends to flood so I made raised beds for better drainage. Well, now the soil dries out even quicker. I planted the Sow True squash I got from you in these beds. The first zucchinis hadn’t germinated after 2 weeks. Two of the yellow squash came up right away and are doing well except they wilt pretty bad unless I carry water to them. I replanted the zucchini and they up and doing well too as long as I water them.
    I got a harebrained idea to fill milk jugs with water and poke a little hole in the bottom and set them amongst the plants. Drip irrigation of a sort. One jug came from the fridge and was half full of out of date milk. I thought the milk would be good fertilizer as well as water so I finished filling it water and sat it between two zucchinis. When I went back later that evening to check on my irrigation system, I found that milk jug about 20 feet away with chew marks all over it and found the two plants had been dug out of the ground. I replanted them and one is doing fine. The other one is struggling to hang on to life.

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    June 30, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    In Arizona the true sow plants are big, green, and now bloomless. All the blooms fell off. I had one yellow squash that got about an inch long before it fell off.I am assuming from the heat. I am hoping to keep them watered and green to see what happens. The sweet potato squash is really vining. It is about 4 foot long. Wish I had a better report for you all.

  • Reply
    Ken Roper
    June 30, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I feel for you and the Deer Hunter. The winds have hit hard here too, musta been above the ground a bit, cause nothing is down in my garden. The Hickory Cane Corn is about 8′ high now and still don’t have the two sets of feet stablizers that help hold it in place. But I think the tomatoes would have broken if I didn’t have them tied up to the tomato hangers. This year I left on purpose the giant ragweeds at the lower end of the garden, thinking it would slow down the winds.
    I think everybody has problems with
    the weather…Ken

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    June 30, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Your garden is looking so lush and beautiful! Last year my tomato plants
    were beat down by wind and rain. We propped them up, and they just kept on growing.

  • Reply
    June 30, 2014 at 8:34 am

    How about some fried green tomatoes? The weather has been strange, but here in the foothills I haven’t noticed the type of damage you have written about. I think the tree roots are quite saturated and easily lose their ability to stay put when the winds are high. If it dries out too much our plants will whither. I hope your garden gets a chance to dry out. I really enjoy hearing about your garden successes and then what can make your garden lose its fruits. What kind of apples?

  • Reply
    June 30, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Oh the life of the gardener! If I am not careful I will look at every weather condition as to how it affects my garden. Nothing more memorable than getting caught in a downpour on a warm summer day, or stepping out of your car only to find you have parked at a giant mud puddle.
    Maybe I’m wrong on this, but it seems with the long tap root on Black Walnut it would be harder to uproot– the small roots of pine trees always were of concern. Your soil must really be getting over-saturated.
    I’m jumping around here, but your very interesting post touched on so many interesting subjects which were blended very well.
    Lastly on tomatoes , squash, and zucchini. Yours look great, and maybe you can get more production this year if it will ‘fair up.” At the risk of “counting chickens before they hatch” there are some great recipes on the web for the usual over-abundance of zucchini. There is everything from julienne sliced zucchini(topped with cheese) over linguine and zucchini lasagna.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    June 30, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Thank you, Tipper, for your excellent account, giving us a walk through your garden, your description of too much rain and the wind damage in your settlement. We could feel your drenching from the Sunday afternoon rain. Last night after I had gone to sleep (early, for I was tired), I was awakened by loud thunder and streaks of lightning showing through my window. Then shortly after the sound/sight display, the rain poured on my roof. This morning with early light, I looked out to see my crepe myrtle bushes with their brilliant spires of bright red blooms bowed over with the weight of rain. The grass seemed to have grown an inch overnight. And as usual after a hard rain, dead limbs had fallen in my backyard, and will need to be dragged to the curb for city workers to pick up. But no trees down; a blessing there. Thanks for giving us an account of garden and countryside. We see and experience what you write about, and feel that we are a part of the “goings-on.” Best wishes for production from all your hard work in the garden!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 30, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Tip, I canned green beans and pickled beets from Saleh’s garden in the last few days.
    It is wet here but I don’t think we’ve had the bad storms you’ve had. I’m running the dehumidifier down stairs and the AC upstairs to get the moisture out of the house.
    I’m going to a new four session class today called Fascia Fun. Expect to learn some new ways to stretch the fascia in the body and relieve pain. I teach you all what I learn!

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