Growing and Eating Regionally

Two things about East Tennessee:

  1. Even the soil is Volunteer orange. It’s a compact clay that is hard as rock!
  2. Technically speaking based on annual rainfall, it is a rain forest. Not tropical, but still a rain forest.

Fun fact, the reason the mountains appear “smokey” is due to the vast density of trees “respirating” after a good heavy rain. Crazy, right? You’re actually seeing tree breath!

So what does that mean for my garden? Several things.

First, it means cucumbers LOVE it here. I am swimming up to my eyeballs deep in pickles!!!

If ever there were a pickle shortage, my family would be set.

In all actuality, all of the melon and squash family seem to do pretty well for us down here. I have an abundance of butternut squash as well, which is excellent for my youngest to start on “solids” this fall.

Second, it means in order to grow basically anything else requires many soil amendments. That’s why we use the Back to Eden method for pretty much everything we do.

The one area we actually tried turning the soil over first, it just ended up being a massive weed bed. Which, don’t get me wrong, I love me some dandelions and violet… But I had hoped to grow some other things as well, and it all got choked out. except for my fennel (small victories!)

Third, it means that I can’t get cool weather crops to grow for me consistently, and also that heavy rains knock down a lot of my plants. My blueberry bushes are pretty much dead after two years of really amending the soil. They just didn’t do well and I’m not totally sure why. I know they’re said to like acidic soil but it didn’t matter what we did, they never perked up and fruited. Last season, each bush gave us about 3 berries… So maybe we just find something we CAN grow well instead. My broccoli, spinach and kale have also never really turned out. I’m going to try again this fall with spinach, but my hopes are not very high.

A series of heavy rainstorms blew over most of my sunflowers and peppers. The peppers I saved, the sunflowers… Idk. It just didn’t seem worth it to stand them back up or stake them. So… The birds/chickens can have em. I had already gotten some seed from them so oh well.

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