Articles (Blog)
Posted on May 16, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
How beautiful is the Mountain Laurel!!!!  Especially NOW!!!
Kalmia latifolia.  This is a close-up picture of a single blossom cluster.  To put it in perspective, it is an evergreen shrub between 3 and 15 feet tall, and it blooms all over the bush.  
Native to our mountains, it can be seen as far north as Quebec, and as far south as Florida.  It lives in open forests and rocky places.  Since it is an acid-soil lover, it really loves pine forests.  It is somewhat shade tolerant, but blooms better with some sun.  We have lots in our neighborhood.
And it's just starting to bloom.  We should see them for the next couple weeks.  You can see them on the Creekside trail, and along the roads.  If you go up to Brasstown Bald, you'll see them everywhere!    
It is beautiful, but POISONOUS.  Not that you'd be tempted to eat it, I'm just sayin, so you know.
I read an interesting thing today:  when stem-killed by fire or drought, it can regrow vigorously.  That's great news, since so much was killed by our 2016 drought.  Let's keep an eye out for new growth.
Posted on May 15, 2018 8:05 AM by Gerry Trout
I hope you have checked out the Titmouse nest.  There are four hungry babies, and one very busy Momma bird!!!!!
Go look before they fledge!!  It could be soon.
Posted on May 14, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
Lots of heirloom tomatoes, Swiss chard, Tomatillos, and Kale ready to plant in the garden.  We started these seeds back in March, and have watched them grow to plantable size.
NOAA weather is calling for rain starting on Tuesday.  I say, "Let's get these babies in the ground !"  The moon is in Taurus today, a good sign for planting.  Yay!!!
Come on over, I have plenty of extras.  And I'm always ready to share garden experiences.  Maybe I should qualify that invitation:  I'll be in the garden from 9:30 - 12:00.  Come then.
Posted on May 13, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
FLOWERS FOR YOU!!!!  From Tere and Henry's garden.  Love, Gerry
Posted on May 12, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
Last year's Leeks are getting ready to bloom!!!  
Aren't they the most beautiful blue?   I planted the root end that I cut off a leek that we ate last fall.  I think next time, instead of pulling it out of the ground and replanting the root end, I'll just cut off the leek above the ground and see if it grows back.....
If you search the site (go back to the main menu) you will find more about leeks.  I wrote about them last fall, and added a recipe for leek soup.
Meanwhile, I'm loving the blooming of Spring.  It's everywhere!!!!!
Posted on May 11, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
On my way down to the mailbox, I noticed a wild rose climbing the trees across from the Nobles'.  It is huge, and very fragrant.  I smell cloves and roses.  :))
Roses and blackberries are related, and look very much alike, except the roses are more compact, and the leaves are smaller.  The blackberries are blooming now too, but they are more sprawling in their growth habit.
Speaking of blackberries, it is now safe to plant whatever you want to grow in your garden.  Blackberries blooming signals the last frost date.
So, go ahead and DO IT!!!!!
Posted on May 10, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
This may seem odd coming from ME, but have you noticed that lovely smell in the air?  I have, and I know to look UP!!!  It is coming from the Black Locust trees in bloom.  We have several to our North, and when the breeze is right, the air is filled with that glorious scent.  OK, that's the big picture:  look up!
This is a close-up picture of Black Locust flowers.  They look like sweet pea blossoms.  Ted held the branch down so I could take this picture, and we agree that the scent is heavenly.
If you are interested, I wrote about Black Locust back in October.  You can go to the archives, or you can search the site for Black Locust.  Great trees, I love them!!!
Posted on May 9, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
OK, maybe it's not the prettiest thing, but it works!!!
When we plant our tomatoes in the ground, we dig the holes deep and put in these 2 liter bottles.  Remove the lids and cut off the bottoms. Turn them upside down next to the tomato plants and bury them along with the tomatoes.  This serves as a watering hole, getting the water down to the roots and keeping water off the leaves.
This way the water gets where it needs to be, encouraging a deeper root system, and discouraging fungal diseases on the tomato leaves.  
We are always optimistic about our tomatoes: and ring them with 6 foot wire cages.  We stake them, and then tie the cages together to withstand our summer winds.  
We also plant Borage among the tomatoes to invite pollinators and deter Tomato hornworms.  Borage isn't blooming right now but when it does, I'll show you.  It's really pretty!!
Posted on May 8, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
Garden seed catalogs aren't just for buying seeds anymore.  They offer so much more!
They are great for learning about garden plants:  their history, their growing habits and needs, and great pictures for identification purposes.  Some catalogs even print recipes!  Here are my favorites.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has beautiful pictures and descriptions of rare heirloom plants.  The owners are worldwide seed collectors, and they give historical background of the plants.  In past years they've had good recipes for garden vegetables.
Heirloom Solutions has good pictures and large print!!  Ya gotta love that.  They also share a little philosophy, from a grandfather's Christian perspective on sharing the garden with the next generation.
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange has good descriptions,  PLUS extensive explanations for growing every kind of garden plant.  They also offer mushrooms and HOW to grow them.  And they are in Virginia, almost in our zone.
Territorial Seed Company is out of Oregon, not our zone, but they offer very good information about HOW to grow each type of garden plant:  how deep to plant, how much fertilizer to use, insect and disease problems, harvest and storage.
 Sow True Seeds is my new favorite catalog and planting guide.  They are located in Asheville, really our zone.  So when they tell us what to expect, it's from a very realistic perspective.  Like, day length, average temperature, frost dates, etc.  This catalog also tells us each plant's needs, including companions and antagonists.    It offers mushroom plugs and culture information.  It even discusses seed saving for each type of plant!!!
All these catalogs promise GMO-free seeds.  They offer heirloom and organic seeds too.  And best of all:  all that information that helps us become more successful in our gardens.   
So even if you aren't growing your garden from seeds, you still need the information on how to do it, so go ahead and read these cool catalogs.  I've given the web addresses for each one.  They all offer free catalogs.
Posted on May 7, 2018 8:00 AM by Gerry Trout
We have lots of bluebirds here. We see them year round.  Fascinating to watch as they build nests, raise babies, and bring joy to our neighborhood.
You can have a "bird's eye view" by going to  and see inside the Yorktown nest box.  Right now they are building a new nest for the next brood.
Or....You can build a bluebird house of your own and see for yourself.  The dimensions are available online, and not that hard to build.  Sounds like a good winter project!!!!  But don't wait til then.....  :)
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