Zone 7a/7b garden updates

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

How are all the gardens doing in zone 7a/7b?

Here in Charlotte, NC, our temps have cooled a bit - enough that we turned off the a/c and opened the windows. 80's during the day, and 70's at night.

This is our 5th season here and the ground has built up from hard red clay, to wonderful black soil full of earthworms and other creatures.

Tomatoes are done for this year, so are the bush and pole beans. Sweet peppers are starting to produce now that we've had some rain, and the melons are setting more fruit. The vines are being attacked by little green caterpillars boring into the stems. I've not had this before. I'm hand destroying (squishing) what I can find, to prevent the caterpillars turning into moth/butterflies.

Looks like we'll have another bumper crop of sweet potatoes early in October, the "Vardeman" vines have a beautiful purple/green color and have spread all over the area where I planted them.

I ordered two bunches of "Candy" onions from Dixondale and this year only one died. Although I've shared with the neighbors, I'm having to freeze a lot of them as they will not store long. This is the first time I've frozen onions. I had to borrow a vegetable chopper from my daughter.

Our fig tree is laden with fruit. I hope they ripen before frost arrives. I don't remember the name of the fig we planted, but it's the same one that's in Fig Newtons.

The persimmon tree has it's first fruits this year. I'm so excited - I love persimmons, and they are so expensive in the store.

Between our two pear trees there were three pears. Don't know what happened to them they just disappeared! I assume the ever present pesky squirrels took them

Blueberry bushes had fruit this year, too, but the birds ate them. Hubby covered the bushes with bird netting, but it entangled a beautiful Eastern King Snake, to I pulled it off. It took some effort, but I carefully cut off the netting and freed the snake. It crawled under our lean-to, so hopefully it will live.

Our spring crop of beets, peas and broccoli all did well. There should be enough in the freezer to last the best part of winter. I'm hoping to get more broccoli set in September.

The asparagus has dropped seeds all over the place. It's amusing to see fronds of aspargus growing throughout the sweet potato patch.

I didn't grow as many edamame soybeans this year as there were plenty left in the freezer. I experimented with sowing them here and there around the garden, and they did well, especially where I had transplanted sweet peppers.

Hubby and I are tackling running bamboo! It has invaded one corner of our lot from the woods beyond. What a chore! If you've ever been tempted to plant running bamboo - you will regret it!

Our lot is is bigger than I thought. The edge along the front yard is 75 feet, the sides from the street to the back fence are 140 feet. The back fence itself is 165 feet long. Allowing 1400 sq. ft. for the house, we have a beautiful area for our garden. Once we get the bamboo out of the way, we'll have room for more raised beds.

Eatonton, GA(Zone 8a)

Honeybee - I missed this garden report! It sounds like you had a wonderful year! Congratulations! Your successes are what I aspire to. I'm sure the pears went to the squirrels like ours did here last year. We actually had some that matured this year, not many as the squirrels started finding them when they were ripe, but now we have a baseline knowledge of how it works.

The melon vine caterpillars sound like they might be pickleworms? That's what got my squashes and the melons. But here they tunnel the fruit.

How cool that you have asparagus - this is on my list for this fall if I can find some that is locally grown.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Cindy_GA - Here's a new update.

I think you could be right about the pickleworms. I cleared out the melon bed yesterday, and will be transplanting some broccoli there over the next few days.

We have begun harvesting our sweet potatoes, and there should be plenty of them.

Our fig tree has overwhelmed us with fruit! The figs are small, so I'm planning to add compost around the base of the tree in the hopes they will be larger next year. The squirrels and birds have completely ignored the fig tree.

Persimmons haven't fully ripened yet, I'm hoping they do so before it freezes.

Once the weather cooled down, our California Wondeer sweet peppers really took off. I really need to find sweet peppers that will fully ripen in 75 days or less. The California Wonder make wonderful green peppers, but they take a very long time before they mature completely.

We are still battling bamboo, but have cleared an area large enough to accommodate squash next year. I'm hoping to squeeze in some eggplants, too.

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

Don't the persimmons have to freeze to be non-astringent? We have a tree leaning over the water that's just loaded this year, but it's hard to gather them because we'd have to use the boat and a long stick!

We've gotten a few ripe figs but they're also small. I wonder whether amending the soil would really make any difference. Have you read up on that?

Eatonton, GA(Zone 8a)

Hey Honeybee,

I can send you some Marconi and some Jimmy Nardellos pepper seeds - both of those turn red early. The JN are faster - they're long thin peppers and fry great. They're also very good just sliced. The walls are thin so they're not so good to roast. The Marconis roast wonderfully - I think they are the sweetest peppers I've ever tasted. Let me know on the seeds.

I want to get a fig tree. I wish I'd had more figs this year (a neighbor brings me bags of them). The drunken fig preserves are one of the best things I've ever made!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

greenhouse_gal - I must admit I have no idea how to grow fruit trees of anykind. I just stuck them into 25 gallon pots and said: "Please grow." And they did! Hubby was supposed to dig holes for them, but never got around to it. The roots have grown through the holes in the bottom of the pots. If I ever have the money to do so, I'll purchase some decorative bricks and build an enclosure around them, and remove the pots.

Thanks for the hint that the persimmmons might need a freeze before they ripen. I know not to pick them too soon as they pucker the mouth.

I don't know whether amending the soil around the figs would make them bigger. I figured it couldn't hurt. I plan to trim some of the branches, too. I seem to remember reading that if you prune apple trees, you get bigger fruit, so perhaps the same is true with fig trees.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Cindy_GA - I would love to try your pepper seeds - I'll send you a D-Mail...

Eatonton, GA(Zone 8a)

Hi HB - perfect!

Warrenton, VA

Cindy_GA: Did you find your fig tree? I'm itching to get one, but am leery of the possible "Bambi Magnetism." As of this morning, my veggie garden is glorious, but we've had many cool, wet days this season. My Rhubarb, at one-year and not liking where I planted it (I bought two plants), was transplanted early Spring to another location and it is STEROIDAL. I am using Neem Oil this year instead of a bunch of other stuff, and Epsom Salts, mostly. Seems that I am on the right track!
Have had a ton of peas, and last night's bad wind put the keebosh on the upper vines. Red lettuce combination was unbelievable, and my beets are getting a good size on them - I am picking them selectively. I have onions grown from seed that are tender, mild, and barely putting bulbs on. Tomatoes are just growing, but the Neem Oil really seems to have helped with viruses and mold so far.
My Zucchini squash had to be reseeded, and it is a bit touchy - weird! But I've reseeded marigolds, too - go figure! My carrots needed the same, but they are growing away. Asparagus is in the 2nd year of growth and it is doing nicely. Cucumbers are about one inch now and starting to get serious. Strawberries are in first year and we've had a few of them already - the taste is what I've missed for over 30 years!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Voles have been particularly vexing this year. They have eaten half the sweet potato slips. In the area set out for the slips, they ate everyone. The "left over slips" I set out in a less desirable area the voles left alone!

The fig tree is loaded with fruit. They seem somewhat larger than last year, so adding compost around the tree seems to have helped.

The persimmon tree is so loaded with fruit, some of the bowes are touching the ground.

Pear trees did not bear fruit. If they don't fruit next year, I'm going to rip them out and grow something else.

Globe fruited tomatoes are going great. I purchased a new-to-me plum type tomato called "Monica" this year. More than half the fruit has had to be discarded because of blossom end rot. My old stand-by called "Viva Italia" is doing well. Although they produce fewer fruit, very few have had BER.

Peas did well this spring. They would have produced even more pods if the birds had left them alone. I'll have to think of a way to protect them next year.

A whole bed of volunteer melon seeds sprouted this spring, so I left them to do their thing. Brought three melons in from the garden a couple of days ago, and they were as sweet as sugar.

Tried "Royal Burgudny" bush beans this summer for the first time. They have such a nice beany taste that I set another row of seeds and left the first row to go to seed for next year.

Had a whopping crop of garlic. I think this was due to the mild winter we had.

Had mixed results with the crop of onions. Ones grown in full sun and fertilized with blood meal have made huge bulbs. Ones grown beside peas did very poorly. Ones grown with recommended "onion fertilizer" only grew small bulbs.

Sweet peppers never do well for me. I don't think I've figured out what their requirements are. But... I'll keep trying.

Hubby managed to reclaim a 25ft x 25ft area from the running bamboo. I set squash seeds there and they loved it. I've been picking fruit for several weeks. This area is "partly shaded" so I was surprised that the squash did so well.

Looking forward to sowing an extended fall garden of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, bok choi and peas.

I will have paid off my car loan by next spring, so should have some cash to spend on a drip irrigation! - YAY! - I'm really looking forward to not having to schlep buckets of water or hoses around the garden!

Temperatures up until a few days ago were "bearable" - but we are in for a hot spell come Friday. Weather forcast is for temps in the 100's through next Tuesday! I turned on our 38-year-old airconditioner and was thankful that it is still working.

Would love to hear from others in our zone...

Thumbnail by HoneybeeNC
Decatur, GA(Zone 7b)

My garden, such as it is, is looking great for late June, but I'm afraid it's about to get hammered by the heat unless we get rain again soon. I'd love to have the selection Honeybee has, still we've been getting some very good tomatoes and, as of yet no BER. One of the best tomatoes we've had so far is a new one we bought at a Farmer's Mkt in western NC they called Abrasion. I've searched for info but haven't found anything to confirm such a tomato plant exists. We also have cukes and okra starting to produce as well as squash, which I'll try one more year. The squash vine borers may have proved my match. Gracye, can you help me with this? I can no longer grow beans or peas because of the kudzu bugs which are all over the kudzu patch next door. Actually, they are keeping the kudzu more manageable than in previous years and that's a good thing. Otherwise, we have peppers and herbs and a very nice patch of chard. Please let it rain.

Warrenton, VA

back40bean - well, fortunately for me but not you, I have not had to deal with squash vine borers (yet). I put in my veggie garden first time last year, and the beans were eaten up. But something also liked my Rhubarb leaves! Go figure on this one! The Neem Oil is what I've used on it this season, and honestly, it is just beautiful. Now I am getting ready to do battle with the Stink Bugs. I have my Bronner's Soap, haven't tried it yet, (can't go outside now because on antibiotics for a tick bite-they are horrible this year), but am seriously thinking of getting a mini blow-torch to zap 'em as this seems to be the authoritative tool.
Amen to the rain prayer.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

back40bean - the tomato "Abrasion" may have been named by the local grower. If it's not a hybrid, you could save seeds from your purchased tomatoes and grow it yourself.

Thankfullly, the kudzu along our local greenway has been eradicated!

Warrenton, VA

Okay, I am happy to report that I used a home remedy for powdery mildew (and various fungus) twice now and it really works!

1) Honkin' SERIOUS sprayer (my OWN addition to this recipe)

2) 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda

3) 1/2 Teaspoon Liquid Soap (pull out that Dr. Bronners)

4) 1 Tablespoon Neem Oil (can lessen this amount for blasting hot summer heat)

Mix to one gallon of water.

Then, spray the be___sus out of everything. Repeat every two weeks or more often IF,and I say IF, there is water from the sky...

I have sprayed my Heritage roses, my Jane Magnolias (they are powdery mildew magnets it seems), my peonies, and stuff in the garden, especially tomatoes. I do not harvest immediately, by the way.

I sprayed in the morning, but could not avoid days where the heat was over 100. I cannot tell you how happy I am with this recipe.

Oh, for weeds between my nice pavers? I just found this one out - pour full strength vinegar on them in the morning, and let the hot sun work for you. It will, me dearies!

Even though we're having this horrible heat, and it's not even August, the maintenance goes on, right? And it's up to us to find creative, simple ways to make life easier.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gracye - thanks for your recipe. Thankfully I'm not plagued with powdery mildew here, probably because it hardly ever rains.

I'm looking at the calendar and realizing that I need to start seeds indoors during the first week of August for our fall garden.

Our bush beans did fantastically this year. I have enough beans to last for a couple of years.

The melons are about done, which is just as well as I spotted the first striped cucumber beetles this morning.

Despite losing many, many tomatoes to blossom end rot, I managed to harvest enough to freeze for winter.

The sweet bell peppers got off to a slow start, but now they are putting on a lot of fruit. One row succumed to bacterial wilt, but a row in another bed is doing well.

One thing I didn't think of before doubling my onion order was: "Where am I going to put them all!" The largest one weighed llb 2ozs. I didn't bother weighing any others. Some of them are huge! I purchased a vegetable chopper and have been spending much time chopping (and crying over) onions.

How are the other zone 7 gardens doing?

Warrenton, VA

HoneybeeNC - Oh! I am laughing so much at your tale! Doubling the order BEFORE thinking about the results...well now, ALL gardeners have done this and more than once, I'll bet!
I restrained myself to cutting in half what I thought I needed to grow, and it is more than enough! LOL!
I just sat down, having a vacation day, after making Zucchini Bread (4 loaves), and Zucchini casserole with fresh tomatoes and onions from the garden. WOW - the taste! I have to say that we gardeners are totally spoiled on the taste of our own labor.
I really don't have a problem with blossom-end rot, but surely have heard a TON about it. I just throw the lime around occasionally, and the manure, as my dad taught me. It must be the combination of everything - climate, soil, and lime, that makes the successful combination, eh?!
I remember the large crops of Bell Peppers of my youth, but they seem to stay there. I've given up. Take too much room up that could be used for something more sure-fire. My bunching onions are the talk of my family. I was warned, you see, by my very successful farmer-uncle (who saves his seeds, and has for eons), to NEVER grow onions from seed. So, I did it, and they are succulent, pretty, tender, and mild. Case closed!
My Abe Lincoln and Rutgers tomatoes are starting to produce. Lovely! Quite coveted, they are! The Hillbillies, put in the garden very late, are just growing like the weeds that they are...and we laugh at them! Can't let a bare spot go to waste in the garden, you know! It's the law.
I am happy to bring such produce to my husband, as he has never had a vegetable garden, but is so enthusiastic about working in it and sharing what comes from that land. That, to me, is the true love of gardening. So you keep planting more than you can handle, HoneybeeNC, and send it to your church for those who are too old to garden but still remember that taste...!

Here's a photo of my garden - it measures 13' long x 35' wide. The Bird Netting covers my raised strawberry patch.

Thumbnail by Gracye
Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Gracye - your garden reminds me of one we had in south Florida. It wasn't much bigger than a postage stamp, but there was always something to eat in it for dinner.

Warrenton, VA

Yep, HoneyBee, it IS small. But incredible how much work goes into it...LOL! I am really starting to garden by the Moon, as my father did, and so, just did yard/garden maintenance this weekend. In fact, I bought an umbrella-type clothesline, and Hubby and I dug the hole, mixed the concrete, and held the level until it set. We did the same for a "squirrel-proof" honkin' metal bird was bought in Spring and we just now got around to installing it...

My Abe Lincoln tomatoes are getting HUGE, as well as the Pink ones (for Mom), and the onions and Oh, and soon I can make another batch of Zucchini bread!

And with ripping the Virginia Creeper from a couple of trees, and "weed" shrubs, that was all she wrote. Phew! You know, we worked so hard, but you would not know that we did ANYTHING.

But WE KNOW, and so do the birds...!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

I picked our first Kadota figs this morning. The tree is producing so much fruit, I will need to freeze some for later.

Although most of the melon vines have finished, a couple at the end of the row have just begun to set fruit. I'll have to remember to stagger plant melons next year to extend the season.

The second row of "Royal Purple" bush beans that were sown June 14th have begun to set usable sized beans.

I picked a big basket of "Ace" sweet peppers yesterday and froze them this morning. These will go great in a pepper steak recipe this winter.

The tomatoes seem to be setting more fruit - which is a surprise - they are determinates. We've also had lots of days with above 90F temperatures which tomatoes don't like.

I found some room for the overabundance of onions. They are in my daughter's freezer. She'll probably be adding some sweet peppers, too, if the plants keep producing the way they have been doing.

Colfax, NC

I know that this is an old thread but it adds to my excitement. I have always lived in apartments and condos and have not had the land to garden. In October my husband and I bought a house with an acre of land. We are in the process of building 3 2ft x 8ft and 3 4ft x 16ft raised beds. I am planning on planting onions, carrots, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, bell peppers, Chinese hot peppers, zuchinni, crook neck squash, cucumbers, green beans, kale, spinach, arugula, chives, thyme, basil, cilantro, thai basil, asparagus, watermelons, strawberries, and three types of tomatoes. I think we may be starting a bit big but I have been wanting to do this for years. :-)

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

That's wonderful, organicNC! You will have so much fun! It's a learning curve but even the learning is great.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Wow, plenty of room for all the goodies. Good luck this season☺

Warrenton, VA

Hubby and I spent our precious Saturday outside, and enjoyed the weather going from dark, dank and overcast, to sunny and dry. We put together our Arbor (I'm going to put cucumbers on it), and the expensive wheelbarrow/garden cart (Smartcart from Vermont-LOVELY!), dug the old sage (hung it on our veggie fence to thwart Bambi) and spinach and weeds out, also the old strawberry patch (didn't love the taste of this variety, honestly), hung our clothes out, dug more to expand our garden, scrubbed the bird bath, put more seed in the bird feeders, and just enjoyed working those muscles that have needed such work...
I also poisoned myself with all that Bambi Rid that I sprayed around, after seeing all the damage...gross! LOL! Sure made ME run the other way...but this winter's been hard on them, too. Can't really blame them, but I surely CAN get mad at them! And I DID!
I ran outta time and did not put the bulb food and Black Cow around my awakening Peonies...
But I DO have 12 bags of organic leaf compost and will spread that when we finish digging that expansion, need to get the Bambi fencing and poles for it, but I just LOVE being outside, don't you? Never was there more a feeling of accomplishment when having a day of work outside, and then telling all your seedlings inside that their new home is getting ready for them...ah, Life!

Southern NJ, United States(Zone 7a)

What kind of strawberries were you growing? I haven't yet found one that does well for me. Last time I got Mara des bois and Cabot, and they were good but I think I needed to thin them more the second year. This time I've ordered Mara des bois again, along with Honeyoye.

We fence deer out of our vegetable garden and it's always worked well.

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Honeyoye is my favorite.

LOL! Spit rain most of the weekend. Nothing really accumulated but made working outside cold and dank. Did manage to plant out some roses and filled the bird feeders. And then a red winged blackbird couple came and camped out on the largest feeder. They had eaten half of the seeds in that feeder in one afternoon, the stinkers!

Rapid City, SD(Zone 7b)

I am new to zone 7b. Transplanted here from the Houston, Texas area. Have been a Texan for 58 years and now after being single for 20 years I met an angel sent to me in the form of my husband, sold my house, gave up my awesome job and moved to 3 acres on the lake in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It's funny sometimes, frustrating others, to wake up every morning to find frost, snow or sleet covering everything. I stand ready and hopefully every morning with shovel, seed and baby plants ready to plant in our new raised bed only to retreat inside to dream on the internet of what my garden and landscape will one day be. I think I saw frost at my house in cypress once or twice a year. So naturally I feel out of place. We have a clean slate on this property mostly covered by trees. I salvaged some lambs ear and marigold volunteers from the yard and moved them to a flower bed by the deck so my husband could mow on his new 'bad boy lawn mower' I wouldn't let him start it up until I walked the property when things started sprouting.

So today I plant: two types of lettuce, tomatoes (which I will cover), asparagus, strawberries, plants, onions sets (1015 and red) and a bunch of heirloom seeds left over from last years Bakers Creek purchase. Hopefully it's not to late. I usually start my seeds in the green house in January . But I don't have one built here yet. That is our fall project. Next spring I will be ready.

What seeds are you starting now in the ground or green house?

Alba, TX(Zone 8a)

Flowerjunkie, to quote another transplanted Arkie: I feel your pain.....LOL! But I moved the opposite way. From zone 5A to zone 8A. Still, this has been a tough winter to get used to for us all. I think it is good for my brain to learn new gardening techniques. So good luck to you.

My 1015 onion sets are in the ground. They can take a light frost and did survive the snow and ice storm a few weeks ago. But the red onions (Red Candy) just couldn't make it. And that is the second time I have lost red onions to the cold. I'll keep trying and I plant out my onions on New Year's day. But I personally cannot say if it is OK for you to plant out the red onion starts until after the last frost. But the 1015's should be OK with a bit of protection. How about grass clippings from the "bad boy"? I looked at that one but went with the Kabota. Lettuce should be fine and I already have my asparagus starts for this year out.

Hope that helps.


Rapid City, SD(Zone 7b)

I planted some of the red onion and 1015. Needed to keep some as back up. We have a bag on our bad boy. The clippings go in the next raised bed. I will need on for squash and melons.

We'll see how things look in the morning..

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