We didn’t get to North Carolina until mid-July 2020, and I wondered: is it too late to plant a garden?
I started 95% of the garden I had from seed, and many of those seeds were started in Michigan before we moved.
Come along with me as I describe that garden in this post full of pictures and memories.
This kind of post is a bit different for me, as I’m going through pictures I took during the month of August 2020 and describing the garden as it was during that time. I hope you like it!
In the month of August we added a lot of landscape pavers to create different regions of the garden and to soften out the curves and mellow out the look of it. We had walking paths so that we could cut across the garden and get from one side to the other. If you are looking to add interest and soften the edges of your garden, adding pavers and pathways is a great way to do that.
In this picture, you can see the wildflowers, sunflowers, and tomatoes are getting bigger. However, the sugar snap peas that I had just planted in early August didn’t do so well. The deer ended up getting them. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect from such a late planting of snap peas. This was the first time I had ever noticed deer prints in the garden, and the prints were only in the pea shoots. They just loved to eat those, I suppose. That was an experiment that failed in a way, but at least I learned what not to do in the middle of August.
I also had Dragon Tongue beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears pole beans, and a limber cob corn that we planted for seed. That was the only corn we planted in the garden that year. My dad wanted to increase the number of seeds that he had on hand for that variety, so we planted 3 rows of around 30 plants/row and he increased his seed stores of this limber cob variety by 40X. He had 1 ear of that corn when he started, and we had about 40 when he finished.
We also planted Rosita eggplant for this garden. I started 7 or 8 plants in Michigan and 6 survived the trip down to North Carolina. Five of those survived the garden to fruit for us. That eggplant loved the hot weather and they were just really starting to be in their element here in August.
In the foreground of this picture, you can see that I have an area that’s more narrow than the main body of the garden. The narrow area is where I planted some different varieties of lettuce and some Brussels sprouts that I purchased from Cline’s Nursery. They did not end up doing very well (not Cline’s fault). All of this was such a gamble because it was at the seedling stage in August. Having seedlings out this late is unheard of here. By the time August comes around, there is so much bug pressure and so much heat and humidity that it’s just a case of bacterial or fungal wilt waiting to happen. There were so many pressures against the garden at that point that seedlings had the deck stacked against them.
Here is a close-up picture of the areas containing the greens that I planted from seed. I planted Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach (failed due to heat), Japanese Pink Mizuna, Verde de Taglio chard, Dazzling Blue Kale, Dinosaur Kale, and Strawberry Cabbage Lettuce.
I also planted Tom Thumb lettuce at the very end there next to the Brussels sprouts, and it did so well for us. It’s one of my favorite varieties of lettuce for the fall. It’s buttercrunch lettuce with a small head, hence the name Tom Thumb. The lettuce is just beautiful and it grows well. I actually have Tom Thumb lettuce in my 2021 winter garden right now that needs to be harvested.
Ah, these are beautiful, heirloom cherry tomatoes. You can probably see that I’ve got a little bit of a tomato blight or fungal damage kind of going on here. The fruit on an heirloom cherry tomato are bigger than a lot of the other varieties and they’re really tasty. And another bonus is that you can save the seeds since they are heirlooms. I made a point to save the seeds from this plant because it was a symbolic plant for me. That tomato plant started from seed in Michigan and bore fruit in North Carolina, and so I really wanted to save those seeds.
Look at this cute baby butternut squash here. Beautiful. I made sure to get lots of pictures of them at this stage and I’m glad I did because I ended up having to rip them out a few weeks later. They were taken over by squash bugs and vine borers. Vine borers can take an otherwise healthy plant and kill it in a day. I’ve heard that if you can find where the borer (worm) has bored into the vine, you can inject BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) directly into the vine to kill the worm and save the plant. That sounds very cool and something I’d love to master, but I have zero experience with saving plants like that.
This picture is a picture of the garden right after a rainstorm. We had several really intense thunderstorms that summer. We also had some tropical storms that dropped a lot of water on us. This past summer has not been that way. We have been in a drought for several months. Our garden still did okay because we were watering it from the creek, but we still are way behind on water. But that again was not the case this past summer, the summer of 2020, which is where these pictures came from.
I love this picture. This is a picture of our field corn. It also goes by other names. Some people call it Dent corn or Limber cob corn. This was planted from a cob of corn that my dad had saved for several years. When we got here, he figured he’d start some of that corn to see if he could grow more for seed. So he did, and he has lots of that seed now. He was able to save quite a few ears of that corn. I love this picture in part because my little girl’s in it, and in part because it’s a beautiful picture of beautiful corn.
Here is a very Jack and the Beanstalk-esque picture of my Cherokee Trail of Tears pole beans, wrapping around the bean trellis we created with some old sticks. In the foreground of the picture is the result of a handful of wildflower seeds that my daughter threw out. Here, you can see various sunflowers, marigolds, zinnias, and other really pretty wildflowers. And further down with these sticks that are kind of propped against the cattle panel, these are pole beans. And we got quite a lot of pole bean activity from these plants. I believe I planted 20 beans. I didn’t know at the time I planted them whether they were pole or bush beans. I was thinking they were bush beans, but they were pole beans. I planted about 20 pole beans in the space where I should have planted maybe five. I had a JUNGLE of pole beans.
This is a picture of the dreaded squash bug eggs. They were everywhere. Every day I would go out and I would fight the good fight and I would scrape them off or tear them off and squish them or put diatomaceous earth on them. And every single time, it seems like I would be out there for an hour trying to get rid of these things, and the next day there would be even more there. It was just a losing battle last year. And here’s a bug laying eggs as I’m taking a picture of it. It just never stopped.
This is a very cute picture of a wad of seeds from Botanical Interests that my daughter put in a small pot, and through the course of the summer this single group of plants grew into a huge, huge stand of really pretty flowers. She planted those when we lived in Michigan still, so it was really important for me to keep those in the garden and let them grow. They were symbolic of our journey and the fact that so much of that garden had roots in another state, but it was still growing beautifully. It was really important and very special to me to make sure that the whole garden grew as much as possible.
This is a close-up picture of probably my all-time favorite bean (how many people have an all-time favorite bean lol). The Dragon Tongue bush bean will ALWAYS have a spot in my garden. The bean taste is amazing. They’re very easy to harvest, meaning you can pull them off the vine right where they’re supposed to come off. They don’t break in the middle like some beans do. They have these beautiful purple streaks on them and stripes, so they’re easy to spot down in the plant when it’s time to harvest, which is important. They have a very good flavor, and they don’t have strings either. No matter how big they get, they don’t get really tough. They’re just a beautiful, delicious green bean, really nice, fresh eating. I would recommend these to anyone.
I planted them again this year (2021), along with two other varieties, the Roma II Italian bean and the Calima French bean. The Roma and Calima were fine, but they just don’t compare to the Dragon Tongue bean. I will only be planting the Dragon Tongue bean in the 2022 summer garden. I’m just not trying other new varieties of bush beans right now.
Here is a picture of my husband and my dad putting up the cattle panel on one side of the garden. On one side of the panel I grew acorn and butternut squash and on the other were the cucumbers, bush beans, and eggplant.
These are plants that I started right after I got down here. I started some corn seeds just to check the viability, so that’s what’s in those Jiffy pots. The pepper plants are Ghost pepper plants. I only got one pepper off of them, because I started them so late. I mean, we didn’t get down here, until July, so it was really tough to get a ton of peppers. I would’ve liked to have started those in February, but we definitely did not have that kind of time. It was still fun to plant them to see what we got!
If you made it all the way to the end of this post, thank you so much for letting me share this garden tour with you! It was such a joy to look back on all that we did that month!