Posts tagged ‘sweet potatoes’
My goodness, now I know I am a rubbish blogger! I haven’t posted for two months again, but since it is raining and I have gotten to the end of the pressing household jobs, I thought I would do an update.
Well, this month has been unbelievable in terms of weather – so warm – it nearly made up for the wet August we had.. I’m not so sure my tomatoes would agree, but my cabbage, lettuce and cauliflower might! I have them under row cover and plastic that I am closing up on cold nights (last night was 50F though, so no need for putting them to bed last night!) and opening during warm days. Quite a lot of work, but they are all looking really good – I hope they mature before the number of hours of light starts affecting them.
I have been composting like a mad thing over the last month or so, I collected a lot of leaves from neighbors and friends – with my new toy – an electric leaf vacuum/mulcher (Worx). It works very well but I think I have gotten tennis elbow from hauling it about – plenty of time to get over that though with the winter approaching fast. I made three new compost piles with grass and straw and most recently now chicken manure & bedding – yes that’s right we have four new residents – four lovely red hens (Red Stars) – donated to me by a friend with a CSA!
We built (an experience that is a story in itself) a cute chicken house (that matches our house) and are happily collecting eggs – so far so good. The girls are entertaining and seem happy, although I feel bad that the run I built is a little small – it was supposed to be moveable so they could have new pasture every day, but we need to work out how to make the house moveable too (very heavy), that is a Spring job I think.
I was recently very satisfied by my ability to feed our visiting friends two weeks in a row with food almost exclusively from the winifredslittleacre – big egg-centered breakfast, then later a roast dinner consisting of meat (locally grown) and a medley of roast vegetables – including sweet potatoes, swede (rutabaga), turnip, potatoes, parsnip, butternut and delicata squash. Followed by peach crumble (using peaches from our tree frozen in syrup). Delicious!
In the garden itself, amazingly I managed to get nearly every empty bed sown with cover crop – winter rye, hairy vetch or clover (which I was using as a living mulch under the tomatoes). That should add some nice organic matter to the soil for next season and protect the soil over winter. I planted 123 garlic cloves back in October – which seems premature now that November has been so warm – they are putting up green shoots, which hopefully won’t be too much of a problem for next year’s growth. I mulched them with pine needles (following a last weed – I’m trying to be more diligent about that – especially now I have my new scuffle hoe!)
I have already started planning for next year – those seed catalogues have begun to arrive already – sooo tempting all the different varieties, etc. I am planning a couple of different edible landscapes this year so I have to take a slightly different outlook on the plants – I will look at their aesthetic value as well as their functionality. I also want to save some more seeds this year, so I will have to be more diligent about choosing open pollinated varieties. I haven’t decided if I am going to try and sell more produce next year – I have to do some survey work and talk to a couple of people yet. I did start to add up the value of all the vegetables and fruit that I grew this year – so far the total was over $1000! Which is great – I have to go back to my plans and see how the actual production compared to the quantities I was aiming for – more on that later!
I finally dug my potatoes this weekend – I was concerned about them rotting with all this rain, but they were fine and I was surprised to uncover several really large ones – both Red Pontiac and Russets. I haven’t weighed them all in yet, but I think the yield was pretty good – I have them curing in the garage since they were so wet and muddy. I am planning to store them in an improvised root cellar – more on that later! The beds I pulled the potatoes from will be used for the garlic planting in a couple of weeks or so – I need to add some more compost to improve the drainage and add some nutrients. Once planted, I will mulch the bed with pine needles from a friend and leave it to go over the winter.
With the exception of the snake gourd (which I was growing for my son’s birthday party – which was this weekend but they weren’t ready – maybe they’ll make good Christmas presents!), the squash plants are all but dead – the powdery mildew took them all out really quickly and effectively! Luckily, most of the fruit had set and was pretty mature, so the pumpkins are turning orange and the butternut squash seem to be ready – I didn’t harvest them since they still seem to be firmly attached to the stems – maybe they are still getting some sustenance from the stems, who knows? I do have them all resting on wood so they won’t rot on the ground.
The raspberries are doing very well – now that the rains/cold weather has killed most of the wasps, the fruit is much safer to harvest! I am told they are very tasty – unfortunately I am not a fan of raspberries so I harvest them (with love) for my family (and some special friends)! I am hoping to get enough for jam (my youngest son likes to have it on his morning piece of toast), the homemade strawberry jam was sooo good I hope the raspberry jam is too.
The garden & I are awaiting the first frost with bated breath – just before it arrives I have to rush out and pick all the remaining tomatoes and peppers, and dig up all the sweet potatoes – it will be interesting to see how they big are since the groundhog enjoyed their leaves at various times this season. I can tell you with confidence that row cover & dog hair doesn’t help too much at keeping him out! (Big holes to prove it!)
My leaf hunting will begin in earnest pretty soon – I have a new electric leaf vacuum/mulcher that I can’t wait to put into action. I am going solicit all neighbors and friends to get their leaves and mulch them up for compost. I was hoping to get one of my sons to do it, but so far not a lot of interest has been shown in the hard work department!
Hi all, I’m getting back to writing my blog. My parents have gone back to the UK after a great month-long visit. My Dad was a star! @72yrs old he opened up ~ 200 ft2 of virgin clay ground covered in vegetation (mostly goldenrod – so not an easy task!). It got drier and harder as the days went on, but he persevered and I even managed to plant my sweet potatoes (arrived in the mail last week) in two of the beds before they left! I didn’t have enough compost to mix in to make the soil really nice, but hopefully the sweet potatoes won’t mind too much (I sprinkled over some organic fertilizer before planting them).
This morning, my sons & I transplanted some raspberry shoots in front of the beds to make a living fence to hopefully deter the deer from entering the new garden area – we’ll have to see how that works! For now, I also cover the sweet potatoes with row cover for some insurance – they actually don’t look very tasty at the moment since they are pretty dead looking when they arrive. (I planted them like that last year though and they grew pretty well).
It was actually a bit of a bonus gardening day today since it was supposed to rain all day but it actually only drizzled and then got quite nice by the afternoon. I transplanted my first tomato plants – 3x Early Girls – they look pretty healthy, I’m pleased with the quality of seedlings. I have been putting the whole lot of the seedlings from the basement out every day for about three weeks and a couple of days ago, I put them in the cold frame in the main garden and left it open at night – it is in the 50F’s now, so cold is not a problem. I plan to transplant most of the other seedlings within the next couple of weeks into their respective spots.
Excitement on the fruit-growing front – we have baby peaches, apples, strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries and raspberries growing! I sprayed the apple and peach with the holistic spray mixed with kaolin clay to hopefully prevent pests getting into the fruit. So far so good on the cedar apple rust – no sign of it on the apple trees. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and give it another spray when it stops raining next weekend!
I had given up all hope on the moldy shrivelled sweet potatoes that I have had in water for the past two months hoping for them to sprout leaves and save me a few bucks on slips – but today I looked closely and to my surprise – there were some little shoots coming out of the sides of the potatoes!! One even has a little leaf on it.. just goes to show that patience is definitely a virtue in the gardening world..
Not much going on in the garden still – been a bit cold and rainy. I have been opening up the cold frame to harden off some of the seedlings that I will transplant into the main garden soon. Also keeping a close eye on all the seedlings growing under lights in the basement. The newspaper pots dry out really quickly, so I have to water them once and sometimes twice a day.
I did have had to do some thinning of seedlings – I always feel like the mother in Sophie’s Choice when it comes to that job – choosing between one seedling and another – which one is best? I usually clip the unlucky one off with some nail scissors so as not to disturb the roots.
No sign of the peas coming up yet – I hope they haven’t rotted – maybe I should have germinated them before planting. The garden soil temperature has risen to ~45F, so hopefully they have a fighting chance of coming up soon – maybe patience is required here too! (Interestingly – it is still only 50F in the cold frame – I thought that would have heated up more by now..)
Exciting news from the cold frame. I checked it yesterday – gave it a bit of water and guess what – there were three little Arugula seedlings poking their little leaves up through the soil! The soil temperature has dropped to around 40F, so I’m not sure there is going to be much action with the other seeds – but we will see – nature is just one miracle after another!
The cosmos seedlings were floundering in the south-facing window, so I bit the bullet and put them under the lights in the basement – amazing what a bit of light from above can do – they are much happier now!
I’m afraid to report that the sweet potato slips are not doing very well – I keep changing the water and even turned one upside down to see if would make a difference, but I’m not holding out much hope for these. I did order some, so I fear that will have to be it for this year..
After weeks (well a couple of months actually) of planning my 2011 garden, I finally sowed some seeds today – 6 x Cosmos – they are good companion plants. I decided not to put them under the lights yet to save some energy, so they are sitting on the window sill in homemade newspaper pots.
Actually I did get started with my sweet potatoes a couple of weeks ago – see photo. Sweet potato slips are very expensive (relatively anyhow) and so I took the two I had left from last season and am trying to grow my own by suspending a third of each one in water. I read about this technique in a book, I thought they were going to grow from the top, but unexpectedly, they have started sprouting from the bottom. Anyhow, at least that means there is some life left in them still (they were a bit shrivelled from storage), so that seems to be a good sign!