Green Groceries

Deer-free so far. Only mammal intruder: a chipmunk.
Deer-free so far. Only mammal intruder: a chipmunk.

The garden is making lots of greenery, but so far, aside from the two-inch cucumbers climbing the fences and the two-inch green tomatoes, there isn’t much productivity yet.

What you can’t see here is how well the beans (heirloom goose beans, turkey gizzard, Christmas limas, etc) are doing.

After the shoots were up about a foot, I stuck “pea brush” in the row–rangy branch tops from a maple I cut last fall and heaped the brush out of the way near the garden. The bean vine tendrils wrap themselves with amazing speed around whatever support they can find, and they are up to the tips of the twigs and twining around the tomato cages, too. This will turn into a jumbled mess when the tops get heavy with beans (he said optimistically) but by then, aesthetics won’t matter. It’ll be all about getting in the harvest.

Tomatoes this year, heirloom Rutgers, German Johnson (not doing so well, won’t plant these again) and especially Mortgage Lifter. They could all blight between now and fruit ripening, but if they all mature the flowers they’ve set, we’ll be making salsa, juice and ketchup plus the whole tomatoes plus onions and peppers in quarts.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. That’s a really nice looking garden……….

    If you get enough tomatoes, maybe take some of the green tomatoes, and cook up some fried green tomatoes……..they are good…..throw in a couple of cold beers, and it’s a nice meal in the evening….


  2. Looks good, Fred. The narrow shape should help discourage them from jumping it, too. Chipmunks only became a problem for us when we tried to grow strawberries.