Howdy Grow Appalachia family! Holly, HQ VISTA checking in, and although it seems like all I do is comment about the weather, I really do wish it would make up its mind! If it’s not pouring down rain, then it’s hot and humid.  Can barely stand it! It’s been an awful year for gardens, and our hearts go out to you. It’s just terrible hearing about gardens getting completely washed out or otherwise destroyed, coupled with the devastation occurring in Johnson County. If any of you need advice or additional resources, please let us know if we can help. Lastly, for those of you whose gardens were unaffected, consider sharing a portion of your harvest with your neighbors or friends that perhaps were not so fortunate.

Speaking of harvest, this week I’m going to share some tips and recipes on what you can do with your first crops. ‘Tis the season, after all!

Green tomatoes

Here’s a few of ours from our research garden!


A few of ours from the HQ research garden. And our lovely shredded paper mulch

I’m willing to bet that for all of you who have planted tomatoes, a lot of them are probably still green. That’s ok! Better not chance it with all of this bonkers weather we’ve been having- go ahead and pick what you have. There’s TONS you can do with them!

-Say it with me, y’all: fried. green. tomatoes!! This recipe here takes the “fried” out of them and offers a baked alternative to the crispy goodness. Do you have a favorite FGT recipe? Share it with us! My mom’s are insanely good! (I might just be a little biased…)

-Check out this salsa recipe using green tomatoes and peaches! YUM!

Here’s a chow chow recipe from Laurel County. In addition to using green tomatoes, you can use…whatever you want!


If you’ve got a collection of cukes, pickles away. Oh man, let’s see if I can get through this…yours truly is a pickle fanatic!

-For those of you who can handle the tanginess and sourness of dill pickles, here’s a recipe that doesn’t require any canning equipment or sterilization. Nifty!

-And for those who favor a sweeter approach to pickly goodness, try these bread and butter pickles. Good grief…

-Last, but not least, once you have all of your pickles ready, why not have some Dill Pickle Soup? Yes, you are reading that correctly!  I’ve actually made this before and it is fantastic. Again, share your favorite pickle recipes.  Or additional cucumber recipes, for that matter!


I scream, you scream, we all scream for…pickles?


Here at HQ, our awesome student Aja harvested about a peck of beans yesterday! (Guess what we did the next morning?) Chances are, if you planted beans, they should be ready to harvest right about now.  Here are some no-fuss ways to get the most out of your greasies, half runners, and tick beans.  (Of course, at least to me, there’s no greater satisfaction than plucking a pod straight off the vine and eating right then and there)

-Since beans are a dehydrated food, they need to be rehydrated, so you have to soak them before you can enjoy them. There are two methods of soaking. For a regular soak, put the beans in a large bowl and cover with 2 to 3 inches of cool water. Set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight, and drain well. For a quick soak, follow the same beginning instructions, but instead of setting aside, bring the water to a boil and boil the beans for 2 to 3 minutes. Cover and remove from the heat for 1 hour, and drain well.  Now time to get cookin’!


-For baking, cover with water and bake at 350F for an hour and a half; they should be fork tender or easy to crush when done.  In a slow cooker or crockpot, cover with water and cook for 6 to 8 hours (on low). Stovetop cooking, cover with water and simmer on medium heat for about an hour. Some beans take longer.  If any of you have a pressure cooker, you can cook them that way too; simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions, since cooking time may vary.  Above information source here. 

-Lastly, I’ve looked through a lot of articles on cooking beans, and a suggestion that keeps cropping up is sauteing beans with vegetables such as onions, garlic, celery, or carrots, with some kind of fat such as olive oil or bacon grease. Can any of you say YUM?

-One final suggestion: You can dry the pods out and save the beans inside as seed, to replant next year.  Seed-saving!


What else have you all harvested so far? Anything unusual? Share your pictures and stories with us, and happy harvesting and cooking!