Bear Corn

Bear corn
Conopholis americana is a small parasitic plant that typically grows near oak trees. It is commonly called bear corn, cancer root, squaw root, squaw corn,  or bear cabbage. 

Bear corn squaw root cancer root

According to this page bear love to eat the plant so I guess bear corn is a good name for it. I've seen it while hiking in Swain and Haywood counties but have never seen it near my house until a few weeks ago. Whether it's rare in this area or I've walked right over it for years I couldn't tell you. It is an interesting little plant. Have you ever seen it?


p.s. A lot of folks have been asking if The Pressley Girls have any shows booked for this summer. The answer is YES! You can see the list on their website here. If you make it out to one of the shows please come up and say hello, we would love to talk to you. 

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B. Ruth's Garden and Deer Startle

Today's guest post was written by B.Ruth

Gardening in east tn
Here is Roy on hands and knees, putting in for me, the small row of Specialty cucumber "Richmond Green Apple", we are thinking of putting a little arch chicken wire for them to run up and on, but the package says they are compact so we will have to wait and see...On the arbor in front of him we planted "Suyo" the long green Asian cucumber...The Marketmore cucumbers we got from you/Sow True Seeds will go in the big garden, where they get fairly large and run...

Growing moon flowers in tn
The tall trellis in the back of the middle bed is for my Moon Flowers and Blue Morning Glories that I generally grow there every year or sometimes Scarlet runner beans for the hummingbirds. In front of those we planted 6 squash, yellow straight neck and zucchini...we love squash. I would like to plant a few crookneck. We have Marconi peppers, Green bell peppers, Gypsy peppers and a couple of jalapeno peppers...We also have in the roadside bed our tomatoes...and small tomatoes. We have Black Krim, Sun Glow and Sweet 100's this year as well! I always plant Marigolds in my garden with veggies to help keep down critters..bugs..etc.

The other trellises up front have Kens beans and Rattlesnake beans on either side...One trellis up front has Asparagus beans (yard long beans) they have to be soaked and are slow to germinate. They are supposed to be crispy and tender when stir fried. We also have two trellises of Kentucky Wonders...We can't wait to see the difference in the growth of these beans in comparison since we will have them close together to watch. Roy does plan on making some T-pees for some more beans in the bigger garden...along with the taters and onions and okra.

How to scare deer out of garden
This picture is of my permaculture bed...the thing hanging in the middle is a "deer startle" that I made out of old plastic bracelets and and necklaces that are left after I buy out someone's jewelry for crafts. Yes, I designed it myself...(can you tell) but it seems to be working, it makes a knocking sound when the wind blows...Roy said, "What in the heck is that thing?" But when we got it up, he said "It's different and it might work!"

I have red lettuce, green bib lettuce, spinach, kale, red and green radishes/ On either end I have Fennel plants that overwintered so I left them and a front row of Verbena for the hummingbirds.. Roy is going to build me another bed like this one. I don't have to bend over to work these, I'm not really supposed to bend I think it is 90 degrees..?...after my hip surgery...


I  hope you enjoyed peeking into B.Ruth and Roy's garden as much as I did. How cool is that deer startle? Looks like an art piece but has a practical side too.


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Planting By The Signs for May 2016

Planting by the Signs Calendar for May 2016

Lots of planting to be done in the month of May. We typically plant most of the things we grow during this month. I'm anxious to use the new gardening areas we built earlier this year. 

Sow true seed radishes

My Sow True Seed Radishes have almost all been harvested so I can put some of my summer veggies in their bed that's already been prepared. Using all the spring beds for summer veggies as the spring veggies play out makes for much easier planting. 

I'm also anxious to get started with my Sow True Seed Cucumber Reporters @ Large Project. Always exciting to try out new varieties. Drop back by tomorrow for a peek into B.Ruth's garden.


p.s. A lot of folks have been asking if The Pressley Girls have any shows booked for this summer. The answer is YES! You can see the list on their website here. If you make it out to one of the shows please come up and say hello, we would love to talk to you. 

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Old Timey Sweet Bread

This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in 2011.

Pap's Sweet Bread
 A few months ago I posted about going down to Pap's for a piece of his sweet bread. More than a few of you wanted his recipe. Today, I'm going to show you how Pap makes sweet bread.

Sweet bread

First he heats 2 cast iron pans on the stove and adds a spoonful of lard to each.

Recipe for sweet bread

While the lard is melting, Pap breaks 2 eggs in a mixing bowl.

Old time sweet bread

He cuts a stick of butter in half. Then cuts the half in half-adding a half of a half to each pan. (I think I just invented a new tongue twister)

Old fashioned sweet bread

While the butter is melting Pap adds one cup whole milk to the eggs and mixes well; then he adds 2 teaspoons of vanilla and mixes well.

Once the butter is melted in the frying pans, Pap pours most of it into the bowl stirring well. Pap says he likes to melt his butter in the frying pan because it's one less dish to wash.

Next he adds a little less than 1 cup of sugar to the mixture and stirs well.

Sweet bread like mother made

He then adds 2 cups of self rising flour and stirs till smooth. (Pap's Mother used plain flour, sodie, and salt. Sometimes Pap makes his sweet bread that way, other times he takes the faster route of using self-rising flour)

How to make sweet bread

Pap divides the batter equally between the 2 pans and puts them in a pre-heated 350 degree oven.

Appalachian sweet bread
Pap bakes the sweet bread for 20-25 minutes or till golden brown.

Print Pap's Sweet Bread (right click to print recipe)

Recipe for paps sweet bread blind pig and the acorn

You can put icing on your sweet bread if you want to, but our favorite way to eat it is straight out of the pan. Pap always liked to open a can of Granny's peaches to eat with his.

When Pap was growing up in the mountains of NC there wasn't many sweet treats for kids to eat. Pap had fond memories of the special times his Mother would make their family a pan of sweet bread.


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47 Years Young Today

An Appalachian husband

Today is The Deer Hunter's birthday. He's 47 years young. We were in our early 20s when we met, set up on a blind date by one of my cousins and her husband. 

As with all marriages there have been ups and downs, but I'm grateful to say for us there have been mostly ups. 

I could never fully describe the manner in which The Deer Hunter takes care of the girls and me: providing for us, doing all the hard things that need doing, forever making sure we're okay. He's always treated the girls and me like princesses-even though we know we are far from that. 

He has barely left my side since Pap died, and when he has had to leave, he's called to make sure I'm okay throughout the day. 

Pap's death has been hard on The Deer Hunter too. They worked together for many years and they shared many of the same interests. 

On our wedding day I was determined not to cry. I dressed in the basement of the church and the plan was for Pap and I to wait on the first landing of stairs until we were motioned to come up and into the sanctuary. 

As Pap and I stood together he said "Tipper I want you to know I couldn't have picked a better choice than Matt for you to marry." Of course there went the whole I'm not going to cry thing. 

Over the past year Pap spoke to me more than once about his passing. He always told me it was a comfort for him to know Matt would be here to take care of the girls and me and that since Matt was so good at fixing things he was glad to know he'd be here to help Granny, Paul, and Steve and his family should they need him. 

Several weeks ago the girls got to make some mighty fine music in the Dutch Cove community of Canton NC where The Deer Hunter grew up. It was a neat experience for us all, but seeing his girls play in the very community that made him who he is today especially pleased The Deer Hunter.

I never had a chance to show Pap the video above, but I know he would have liked it. Pap was smart, on our wedding day so long ago he saw the man Matt would become when I was still only seeing the handsome young fellow waiting for me at the end of the aisle. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls got a nice mention on the Seeing Southern Website go here if you'd like to read it. 

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Wild Iris

Wild Iris

These tiny Iris grow prolifically around my mountain holler. Their shades vary from pale blue to a deeper purple. Wild Dwarf Crested Iris can be found growing from New York to Florida and as far west as Arkansas.

Miniature iris

Their leaves are the same sword like shape found on large Bearded Iris-just in miniature form.

Wild iris growing in appalachia

Dwarf Crested Iris usually grow in small clumps, you can see the rain we had last week almost washed the blooms right off these. Wild Dwarf Iris are like Bloodroot in the sense that by mid Summer they've completely disappeared waiting till next Spring to make their presence known again.

Dwarf crested iris in wester nc

Years ago when The Deer Hunter and I moved into our house I transplanted a few clumps of Wild Dwarf Iris into my flower beds. My Uncle said they'd never live, but he was wrong they're still going strong all these years later.

There are also Wild Dwarf Crested Iris that have white blooms, although I've never seen any in my area. 


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5 Things

The real appalachia

1. A light in the darkness always speaks of comfort and home...even when you're only walking up the driveway from just down the road.

  The magic of bees

2. The blueberries are blooming. If you stand beside them you can hear the hum and buzz of hundreds of bees. Those bees are magic I tell you! They go to and fro working as fast as they can so that I can reap the rewards of their labors. 

Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three my favorite band

3. I've been too sad to listen to a lot of music. Seems like every group or every song is related directly to Pap. I have been able to listen to Pokey LaFarge. Most of his music is so upbeat and fun that I can hear it without any tears. Here is one of my favorite Pokey LaFarge songs. Not sure if it was Paul or Ben who introduced the rest of us to Pokey several years ago, but I'm grateful to whichever one it was. Pap especially enjoyed the faces Pokey makes while singing and the amazing musical talent of Pokey and his band the South City Three.

Columbines in western nc

4. Every year I'm surprised by the beauty of my columbines. It's like I forget all about their sweet nodding heads until BOOM there they are again bringing color and loveliness to my yard.

Cousins in appalachia family ties are strong
5. Its great to meet up with a cousin you never knew. Its FANTASTIC when the cousin likes history as much as you do. 


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Green Up Time

Green up in spring

"Have you noticed? It's greening up!" That was a common expression among my Scots-Irish folks in the mountains of Choestoe Community, Union County, Georgia. I like the time of early spring, even maybe seeing some green-up happen when frosts and/or snow still threaten. One year in May, my father had his fields of corn planted and the rows looked lush with green-up growth, the plants abundant, an inch or two high. Then a hard freeze--frost and maybe even snow--came to obliterate the green. The whole field had to be planted again after the cold snap passed. That's part of the unpredictability of spring weather in our beloved mountain area. Green up can occur early; and then have to burst forth again."

~ Ethelene Dyer Jones 2015


I have heard the phrase green up used to describe the greening of spring my whole life. The Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English has this entry for green up:

green up, green-up time noun Springtime.
1976 Dwyer Southern Sayin's 23 = springtime. "It's comin' green up." 1991 Haynes Haywood Home 56 Springtime, just at green-up time, was the time for making popguns and willow whistles....It's the time when buds come on the willows and elders along the branches and creeks and their bark gets loose.  


Every Spring I wish that I could put my finger on the exact moment green up magically occurs. I know it's not an instantaneous thing, instead it happens in small increments until finally it arrives. 

Green up happened sometime since Pap's passing last week. As I looked out my car window this morning I thought "The world is green again." And it is. 


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How Does My Garden Grow?

Growing heirloom tomatoes from sow true seed
Our garden is coming right along. The tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse seem to be growing an inch every night. It always seems to take forever for them to germinate and get their first real leaves but from then on they grow by leaps and bounds. 

Purple asparagus growing in wnc
My purple asparagus is spearing its way through the earth and my is it tasty!

Apple trees in western nc
My apple trees are blooming and their sweet smell is perfuming the backyard. We've only had our grapevines a couple of years, but they are looking great! Maybe this is the year I'll finally get a few grapes.

Growing mushrooms in western nc brasstown
You may remember we used a few of our old mushroom logs to build a new bed in the backyard. Apparently the mushroom logs like their new location. I've been gathering mushrooms from them. I guess they showed me they weren't quite through after all. 

One row of my Sow True Seed Radishes didn't come up. I planted the bare spot with more green onions. Chatter got most of her herb/medicinal seed planted in the greenhouse and they have sprouted.

A few days before Pap passed away he felt like getting out in the garden for a while. He discovered something had eaten most of his cabbages. He thought it was a deer that's been hanging around, but The Deer Hunter said it was likely a groundhog since there was more damage than rabbits usually do but no deer sign. I checked on Pap's little garden today and the cabbage seem to be making a come back so maybe Granny will be able to make kraut this summer.

Please tell me how your garden is doing.


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