making do

And so the north Georgia drought continues.  Yesterday was hellish - rolling clouds of smoke streamed down from Rabun county, where some houses were being evacuated, and from areas of South and North Carolina.   From my neighbors, who are weather hardened house builders, I heard hacking coughs and mine joined theirs as I pruned my trees.  And rain not in sight and maybe none until next spring. My house is on a well and I could pump water for irrigation but this depletes my well (and probably Read more [...]

what’s growing

Tomorrow,  Thurs Sept 22, is the beginning of Fall, or Autumn as we called it in the UK and SA.  Time to take stock of what's growing. Apple production is ending and the Anna, top left, and Ein Shemer, top right, are almost all gone.  It has been a good 2.5 months of apple eating since the Pristine became available early July. Although the Asian pear is almost done, the other pears are still turning out large, sweet pears and as long as we cut out the bad bits, they are a treat.  M. is Read more [...]

what’s growing, maglite led conversion

Unlike July which was hot and dry, August has been tempered with rain showers and cloudy days.  My property 50 miles north of Atlanta has received a lot of rain while Atlanta very little - could this be the heat island effect?  The rain has filled out my muscadine, including the golden scuppernong, shown above and throughout the day they are visited by yellow jackets, wasps and hornets, and me in the earlier morning. With the exception of the Parks Whopper, most of my tomatoes are done.  The Read more [...]

what’s growing and recent reads

Recent good rains have juiced my crops.  We thought by now the tomatoes would be done, and some are, but others keep producing.  Most everyone complimented the taste of the small tomatoes.  We feel the larger tomatoes are less tasty probably from too much rain. Muscadine season has almost arrived and the black ones above although sweet, will be sweeter still when they roll into my hand and do not have to be tugged.  But then there will be many yellow jackets at the smorgasbord and M. developed Read more [...]

what’s growing

Tomato season is peaking and I am doling out bags to neighbors, friends and my running group.  A few weeks ago I was plagued with blossom rot but that has disappeared with changes to my watering methods.  The best producer is still the Parks Whopper which a neighbor gave me in exchange for 6 of my varieties.  It has outperformed the rest, though interesting my neighbor has not done as well with her Parks but is enjoying my Juliet and Cherokee Purple. The daily vegetable harvest  is tomatoes, Read more [...]

unwelcome visitor & apples, squash and tomatoes +2-1

  I affectionately refer to the large non venomous snakes around our place.  But out here good goes with bad and the copperhead in the header photo, thick of body and (to me) ugly and close to the house, was an unwelcome sight. In north Georgia it is hot and dry.  Blackberry and blueberry season is over and now it's time for fruit and crops such as squash, cucumbers and tomatoes.  And this year my apples and squash are great yet many of my tomatoes have blossom rot.  Usually my tomatoes Read more [...]

yellowing blueberry leaves

I showed M. the berry laden blueberry plants and ventured they would be ready for picking within a few weeks.  But why are the leaves yellow? she asked and drew my attention, as she usually does, to what I had missed.  Yellow leaves with green veins can indicate the plant is not receiving enough iron (iron chlorosis) since iron produces cholorphyll which makes the leaves green which enables photosynthesis, sugar production and growth.  Blueberries thrive on acid soil (between 4 and 5) and if the Read more [...]

measuring soil pH – not that easy

The pH (acidity/alkilinity) is an important must know for growing vegetables, fruits and berries.  Blueberries notoriously love acid conditions.  Tomatoes like a pH range between 5.5 to 7.5.  Since pH can range from 1 (very acid) to 14 (very alkaline) it follows that 7 is neutral.  I have tried over the years to independently determine my soil's pH, with little success.  I have sent samples to the extension service for general soil analysis but have always wanted to determine pH myself. The Read more [...]

pollinators busy

Last week (April 21) I was at the top of the hill watering the blueberries when I saw the busy bumblebees and honey bees. This year I added sulfur powder to lower the ph and also Starbuck coffee grounds and I am hoping for an even better blueberry yield. I mentioned to my neighbor a Southern saying that came my way - don't plant before tax day (April 15) and he replied that where we live which is in the foothills of Appalachia the last cold is when the blackberries flower.  And he Read more [...]

planning simplifies my growing

My tomatoes having progressed from 0.7" soil blocks to 2.3" soil blocks are now ready for transplanting to pots.  In early years I used 0.5 gal (64ozs) nursery pots but they took up too much space and needed too much soil.  Now I transplant to  1qt (32 ozs) yogurt pots with holes drilled in their base.  Later I will transplant to their final destination, except for a handful which I will hold in 0.5 gal or 1 gal pots as a reserve for failing tomatoes. I have compost but am short soil for the Read more [...]