Lettuce Reporters @ Large Update 2

What can you grow in the fall garden

This year Sow True Seed graciously donated extra lettuce seed so that I could deputize @ Large Lettuce Reporters during the fall gardening period. There are 12 folks taking part in the lettuce reporting including me. 

Here's a short update from myself and another reporter @ large.



As you can see from the photos above my lettuce from the reporting project is doing great! I also planted some Sow True Seed Kale and it's coming right along too.

My other report comes from Don Tomlinson:

I'm behind in reporting the results of my lettuce project as well as a few other things I'd intended to have done by now.  Anyway, back to the lettuce.  I'd never planted lettuce in the fall but figured it would be a welcome addition to our other greens. Long story short, I was a bit skeptical about planting it this late as I usually try to have mustard and turnips sowed by mid August. That being the case I only planted about half of each pkt. It came up pronto and was looking promising but when it was about 3 to 4 inches tall, a big doe and her yearling fawn wiped it out in one visit. Guess I'll try again in the spring and put it in a cold frame with some chicken wire over it.

If you missed the details surrounding the lettuce reporting @ large project go here. And if you want to see the first update go here


p.s. If you missed the hoopla-The Pressley Girls have their very first cd! Go here to get one!

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Turkey Bean

Turkey bean sow true seed

Photo courtesy of Sow True Seed

turkey bean noun 
1980 Smokies Heritage 297 Settlers hearabouts tell a tale of how the "turkey bean" came to the mountains. It seems a flock of wild turkeys once wandered into the Jones Cove community, and consequently ended up as the main course for several Sunday dinners. But something strange had been discovered when the people killed and dressed the wild turkeys: in each bird's craw lay a handful of bean seeds. Not being wasteful, people put the seeds by and sowed them the following Spring. What grew as a result were a special type of bean with a flat hull and tiny, pea-like seeds inside. The delicious beans came to be called "turkey beans," for they had first appeared in the wild turkey's craw. 1996 Montgomery Coll. = string bean (Cardwell). 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


I don't think I had ever heard of turkey beans before I saw the entry in the Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English. I jumped over to Sow True Seed and wouldn't you know they sell turkey bean seeds. You can find them here


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How Granny Ripens Green Tomatoes In The Fall Of The Year

What to do with green tomatoes in october

Can you believe this lush green tomato bed? Our tomatoes always look like this in July, but in October-NEVER! By fall of the year our tomatoes are usually only a memory leaving us waiting for next summer's bounty.

As I told you a few days ago, I watched a video made by a northern farmer about pruning his tomatoes to increase his harvest. I'm familiar with suckering tomatoes as they grow, but his method was pruning to the extreme. By the end of the season his tomatoes looked like trees with only leaves, blooms, and tomatoes on the very tip top of the very tall plant. 

Growing tomatoes in Appalachia

While we didn't prune our plants throughout the summer, I did prune this bed as we were cleaning up the garden sometime in early September. I figured since I was about to tear out all the plants it wouldn't hurt anything for me to give the extreme pruning a try so I did. The plants responded by shooting out new grow with lots of blooms. The fruit on the new growth didn't have time to ripen, but I was able to pick a half a bushel of good size green tomatoes the evening before the first hard frost. 

How to ripen green tomatoes

When I was just a young girl Granny and her friend Frankie Gillenwater would go to a farm up the road a ways and buy boxes of green tomatoes in the fall of the year. Nobody much wanted them and they got them for practically nothing. They brought the tomatoes home and wrapped them in newspaper storing in a cardboard box until the tomatoes ripened. Sometimes Granny would have fresh red tomatoes on the Thanksgiving table.

Actually Granny still uses this method when she can get her hands on green tomatoes this time of the year. I shared my late harvest with her. I'm hoping our green tomatoes ripen in their newspaper beds so that we can eat them between now and Christmas.


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Lettuce Reporters @ Large Update

Sow True Seed Lettuce

This year Sow True Seed graciously donated extra lettuce seed so that I could deputize @ Large Lettuce Reporters during the fall gardening period. There are 12 folks taking part in the lettuce reporting including me. 

Here's a short update from a few of the reporters. 

Linda Krieger lettuce reporter 1st update
Linda Krieger: A half package of Jericho sowed 9/18.  A couple rows are hidden by shade.  I'll thin out that cozy patch as soon as they are bigger and handle better. Only 36 more days to maturity. Hope the deer stay away! Lord knows there are enough acorns, hickory, and beechnuts for them to eat.   

Ed Ammons lettuce reporting 1st
Ed Ammons: It had been so dry here that I put off sowing the lettuce until Saturday the 7th. The Weather Channel was calling for rain on Sunday so I figured I had to get while the gettin was good. I cleaned off and tilled the place where I wanted to put the bed. I used some 4 in landscape timbers to outline the bed. As I was just finishing the bed it started to rain. I thought "a little rain ain't going to hurt me" so I kept going. Like a fool I had brought the seeds out and laid them on a roll of fencing that was sitting there. I forgot they were in paper envelopes and so by the time I had the bed ready they were soggy.

I took the seeds back in the house and dried them with a hair dryer then hurriedly went back out in the rain and planted some of both the Jericho and the Buttercrunch. As you would know, as soon as I got done the rain stopped. It didn't rain again until Sunday afternoon. 

That's when Nate dragged his tail across us. We were lucky here and the power when off for a few hours but a mile or two away they got a tornado. Trees and power lines were blown down and roofs were damaged on Connelly Springs proper. Over on the other side of Mineral Springs Mountain several houses lost roofs and one was blown off its foundation. One guy that Dusty went to school with was trapped in a closet when the roof caved in on him. He had his cell phone on him and was able to call family and friends to come and dig him out. EMS came and took him to the hospital but he was released later Sunday night. He is OK.

A volunteer firefighter Jason Keith Hensley from Drexel was hit and killed by a drunk driver while he was trying to clear storm damage from the road. His is the only fatality I know of from the storms.
When I checked on my lettuce just a few minutes it looks like some have come up already if it ain't weeds. I took some pictures.
Joanne and Ben Nelson lettuce reporting 1st

Joanne & Ben Nelson: Just a quick note and a couple of pics to let you know how the lettuce seed you sent is doing in our climate and garden environment. We planted the seed on October 4, 2017. First noticed a few sprouts on October 8th. We didn't use any type of fertilize when we planted, but will be side dressing on a regular basis with a totally organic fertilize.  We will do the first side dressing in a few days.  There is fertilize already in the soil from our summer garden. We like to wait on fertilizing lettuce and other small seed plants until we see whether or not there will be a good stand of plants.

Ben, my husband checks the plants each morning and evening and he says there will be a good stand of both varieties.  I think I will have to dig up and transplant some of the plants when they get a bit larger. I guess I planted them a bit thick.. lol.  I used a spice jar with a sprinkle lid.  The wind was blowing somewhat that day and blew the seed around.  We saw some sprouts in the middles between rows.

Now to climate conditions:  As you know, we had hurricane Harvey come through in late August leaving us with over 22 inches of rain.  After Harvey, the weather turned hot again which is not good for lettuce.  It remained hot until the very end of September.  On Oct 4 it was a good planting date. We felt the temperature had moderated enough that we could plant the lettuce and by the time it starts growing the weather would be cooler.  As to rainfall after Harvey it has been sporadic.  We got 4 inches the week prior to planting the lettuce and then 1/10 of an inch the day before we planted.  We will have to water the garden in the next day or so if it does not rain.

Our soil is sandy loam that we add leaves and other organic matter to when we have it available. We also fertilize with an organic fertilize.  We don't use chemicals like pesticides on our gardens.  

Just for your information, the daytime temps right now are between 82 and 87.  The nighttime temps are now solidly in the mid 60's.

I've included two pictures of the lettuce.  One picture of each variety.  My husband took close-up shots of them both so it doesn't show the whole row. He laid the seed envelope for each variety by their corresponding plants.  I hope this gives you the information you need.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask away.

We are so enjoying doing this experiment for you.  Perhaps we will find a lettuce variety or two that we absolutely love.

Thanks again for including us in the experiment.

Joanne & Ben Nelson
Leggett, Texas
SuzyJ: As a gardener at large for you I have a short update. I planted Jericho and Parris Island romaine. I am reusing straw bales that my squash used earlier this year. They have all started to sprout and are still in the seedling stage :)  This rain has certainly helped them along! Will start thinning, as painful as that is for me to uproot a growing plant!, as soon as they mature a little more.

Tipper - Sow True Seed Lettuce Reporting 1st
Tipper: My lettuce, and the kale I planted on the same day, are coming along. 
I'm excited about having fresh lettuce during the coming weeks. And if my fall kale does as good as it usually does-the chickens and I will still be eating it come spring. 
If you missed the details surrounding the lettuce reporting @ large go here


p.s. If you missed the hoopla-The Pressley Girls have their very first cd! Go here to get one!

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Molasses Making

Molasses making in haywood county nc

Molasses making in Haywood County NC

molasses boiling, molasses making, molasses stir off noun A social work activity, sometimes lasting all day, at which the juice of sorghum cane is squeezed and slowly boiled, producing a thick syrup that became a principal sweetener for traditional mountain food. The syrup was sometimes fashioned into candy, esp by young couples, by pulling stretches or "ropes" of it until they cooled into sticks, and eaten. 1922 Tenn Civil War Ques 18 [School] amed to run 3 mos but stoped through fodder pulling and molasses making. 1939 Campbell Play-Party 18 Clearings, log-rollings, house-raisings, corn-shuckings, bean stringings, apple peelings, 'lasses stir-offs, and quiltings, though said to be not as common as they once were, still survive. 1945 O'Dell Old Mills 4 Molasses making were gala occasions. Neighbors often helped with the tedious task. After all was finished, the last run was allowed to boil until it was ready for candy. While it cooled, all hands were washed in the nearby stream, greased thoroughly, and then each Jack chose his Jill for the candy-pulling. 1966 Frome Strangers 240 He remembered how the farmers never hired hands for wheat threshing, but would help each other; how the boys and girls shucked corn together and had a time telling tales and singing, as they did at spelling bees and "'lasses boilings." 1982 Maples Memories 12 I still got to see the "lassie making" though. We kids would be on our way from school, and Uncle Burt Ogle would be making molasses. We would see the old mule going round and round, grinding out the juice of the sugar cane, as one of the men would feed the mill. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


It's the time of the year for molasses making. Pap always called molasses sorghum syrup or just plain syrup so that's what I think of it as. Pap's father, my Papaw Wade, was known for his sorghum syrup making skills. Pap told me stories about Papaw Wade going around the territory to help others with their syrup after he had finished his own. 

After I was married and started growing a garden I told Pap I wanted to grow cane and that he could teach me to make syrup. I still remember the way he laughed as he said "Why Tipper you ain't go nowhere to grow cane. It takes a whole lot to make syrup and you can't grow it on the the side of the mountain. 


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Blind Pig and The Acorn Lettuce Reporters @ Large

Sow True Seed Lettuce
Sow True Seed generously donated enough lettuce seed for me to deputize Lettuce Reporters @ Large. Eleven Blind Pig readers signed up for lettuce reporting. I guess there was twelve if you count me.

Even though I planted all of the varieties donated (Parris Island RomaineButtercrunch, and Jericho) in my spring garden, I couldn't resist taking part in the fall reporting @ large project. I planted Jericho and Buttercrunch.

I also managed to plant some Sow True Seed KaleLacinato, White Russian, and Red Russian. We enjoy eating fresh kale all through the winter in soups, salads, and sauteed and our chickens love the treat of fresh green kale during the cold winter months. 

I'm hearing tropical storm (as of this morning hurricane) Nate may decide to rain on the Sunday portion of the fall festival. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that Nate waits till the fun is over, but that looks doubtful at the moment. 


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Storing Onions

Stringing onions for storing

We never grow onions to store through the winter. We plant the type of onions that are best eaten as spring green onions. Most of them get eaten quickly once their green sword shaped leaves shoot above the fresh spring ground.

As the garden progresses from spring veggies to summer veggies a few onions always get forgotten under the foliage of the growing plants. I usually find them as I weed in the garden or pull up the rest of the spring planting of beets and radishes. 

Since I don't have many onions to worry about storing, I get The Deer Hunter to string them up on the front porch for me. I use the onions for cooking.

Stringing up the onions on the porch always makes me think of Little House on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder's books were by far my favorite thing to read when I was a young girl. I remember wishing I could see the attic where Laura and Mary played between the rows of braided onions that hung down from the ceiling. 


p.s. The Pressley Girls will be playing TODAY Saturday September 30, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m. and at 1:00 p.m. at the Tractor Parade/Ag Day celebration - Hayesville NC and on Sunday October 8, 2017 @ 2:00 p.m. JCCFS Fall Festival - Brasstown NC. 

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Deputizing Blind Pig and The Acorn Lettuce Reporters @ Large

Sow True Seed Lettuce

This year Sow True Seed has graciously donated extra lettuce seed so that I can deputize @ Large Lettuce Reporters during the fall gardening period. 

I grew all the lettuce types in my spring garden. (click on any of the variety names below to jump over to Sow True Seed's website to read more details about the type of lettuce)

The Parris Island Romaine came up in a sort of spoty fashion at first but quickly took off like wild fire! Although all three lettuces were good producers with a good taste, this one might have been my favorite. Although I'm thinking I might have been partial to it because of the Parris Island name and Pap having been stationed there when he was in the Marines. 

The Buttercrunch took a little longer to germinate and get started, but it did well overall. 

Jericho was the one I was most excited about growing. It's touted to be perfect for hot weather and slow to bolt when the hot temps arrive and let me tell you it lived up to the claims. The lettuce was still going strong in July. July people! Crazy how well it did. I swear it didn't begin to bolt till the middle of July. The taste was superb as well. I'm anxious to see how it does in the cooler temp if fall. If it does just as good it may be the best lettuce of all time.

So what does being a Blind Pig & the Acorn Lettuce Reporter @ Large mean? 

Sow True Seed is always looking for feedback about their seeds. You know things like plant germination, growth, production, pest issues, and most of all taste. 

To be an @ large reporter you simply need to plant the lettuce seeds, keep track of how they grow, and send your findings and observations to either me or directly to Sow True Seed. If you can snap a few photos along the way for me to share here on the Blind Pig-that would be fantastic too.

If you'd like to be deputized as an @ large lettuce reporter. Email me your name, your address, and your top 2 choices of lettuce varieties above and I'll send you some seeds!

Email me at:blindpigandtheacorn@gmail.com


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Look the Beans

My life in appalachia look the beans

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

Look transitive verb To examine (food), inspect for dirt or foreign objects.
1982 Slone How We Talked 62 Some of the greens we used were not cooked, but eaten raw. They were "looked" (checked for bugs and rotting spots), washed, sprinkled with salt and wilted or "killed" by pouring real hot grease over them. 1990 Bailey Draw Up Chair 12 I told her, "Now you be sure to look the beans," 1933 Ison and Ison Whole Nuther Lg 40 Look the beans = to inspect dried beans or other food for foreign objects. 


2017 Brasstown "Why those beans were so pretty you didn't even hardly need to look them."


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Leather Britches

Shucky beans

leather britches, leather britches beans noun
Green beans put on a thread or string (as at a bean stringing), dried in the pod by hanging on the porch or by the fireplace or by laying in trays or on scaffolds in the sun, and preserved for later boiling in water and winter consumption. 
1913 Kephart Our Sthn High 292 Beans dried in the pod then boiled, "hull and all," are called leather -breeches. 1939 Hall Coll. Hazel Creek NC They'd dry their beans, yes. They'd dry leather britches beans they called it. I dry mine in the sun. My grandmother dried hers on a string, hung them up in the porch or around the fireplace and dried 'em. I still dry those leather britches beans. That's what they called 'em then. (Clara Crisp) 1957 Parris My Mts 212 It's a flour sack filled with dried beans-in-the-hull which mountain folks call "leather-britches." 1975 Jackson Unusual Words 155 Dried beans had numerous names-leather-britches, fodder beans, shuck beans, and dry hulls. 1977 Shields Cades Cove 36 These were known as "leather britches" beans, and when rehydrated, cooked, and properly seasoned, they were delicious. 1978 Montgomery White Pine Coll. III-2 Our beans we would dry them. They called them leather britches, and you'd string them on your string till you got something like a yard long, then you'd hang them in the smokehouse or somewhere when it was warm weather and they'd dry out. Then all you'd have to do in the winter if you took a notion for green beans why you could go get your leather britches and put them in the water and soak them overnight and you'd just have a  livelier spell of green beans than you ever had when they come out of the garden. 1982 Smokies Heritage 66 = long string beans strung together by needle and thread then hung upon the cabin or smokehouse wall to dry. 1986 Ogle Lucinda 50 So they would dry fruit and berries of all kinds also string green beans with a needle and thread and hang to dry. These were called fodder or leather britches. 

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English


It's been a few years since we've strung up any leather britches, but we've got them on our to do list for this summer. If you've never had leather britches they are very good, but have a completely different taste than fresh green beans or ones that have been canned. 


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