Got forty sweet potatoes in the ground today. Have been propagating slips from four sweet potatoes in front of a south facing window since mid-February. The red-skinned potatoes are behind me. They are up as of two days ago.
The photo above is looking south in my garden plot this morning. One of my friends delivered a dump truck load of compost to me a couple of days ago. I have now spread about three to four inches of the stuff over the area you see. I am using a four-wheel wagon and an aluminum grain scoop to do the work. We had freezing weather within the last week, so I don’t have anything planted outdoors yet. The greenery in the foreground is a plot of chives, which are perennial and are off to a fine start. They didn’t seem at all bothered by the cold. You can see the remainder of the pile of compost at the far end.
Next week, I will till this in with my rear-tine 6 hp Cub Cadet. The fenced area on the other side of the compost pile contains asparagus and some blueberry bushes.
The cinderblock borders on the left hold some strawberries in raised beds.
Right now, my plan is for sweet potatoes, redskin potatoes, snow peas, cabbage, broccoli and green peppers. Probably a few types of squash, beans, lettuce, and carrots.
Behind me there are raspberries, apple trees, and rhubarb.
My work is mostly a desk job, and although I was doing regular strength training all winter, without fail every weekday, this manual labor is making me feel like my exercising should have been more diligent.
This morning, about 5:30 A.M., Mr. Thermometer announced that it was twenty-six wonderful degrees Fahrenheit. Well, that’s the end of gardening season, I thought. Indeed, the green peppers were wilted and mushy. The okra, being a mostly southern crop, had obviously suffered the frostbite apocalypse. Any yet to be harvested pods were mushier than the sad remainder of the green peppers.
We had two types of winter squash, and the vines had obviously come to a sudden end. One type is a Hopi gray squash. Two vines made four good sized fruit. The other was a single vine that produced twenty-four fruits between two to four pounds each, only two of which were eaten by critters. The seeds for this vine came from the local extension service “seed savers” program. I amnot really sure of the variety, but it sure resembles the pictures I have found of the Kabocha squash. We have eaten one, a week ago. After an hour in the oven, the flesh was tasty and sweet and dark rusty-orange. I ate mine with butter and sprinkled with a little coconut sugar.
The vine had invaded my potato patch, so with the demise of the squash, I was able to dig the last two of the 24 red-skin potato hills.
There once was a fella named Jack He came when the night was still black Gardens behind him were left of life too early bereft by cold he made his attack
Today is the 25th of September. It was a lovely day with the afternoon in the mid seventies. A stiff breeze was making a rustling noise in the fields of drying Iowa corn. I decided to dig my red-skinned potatoes. The vines had given their last hurrah mid month.
Some had asked me about storage through the winter. I have knocked together a rack (on casters) in the basement that uses large restaurant bus tubs for shelves.
I have found potatoes keep better if one doesn’t wash them before storage. I just rub off the excess soil when I dig them. I Sort them for size and (some for condition). I throw a mover’s blanket over the rack to minimize light. I have the rack in a basement room where the lights can be kept off most of the time. There is a small east-facing window, but we keep a heavy drape over it.
Lest you think they all look like they came from the supermarket in a bag…
The box contains small potatoes that will probably go in stews or the crock pot without being peeled. The dozen or so in the foreground were damaged by marauding thirteen-line ground squirrels. They will probably be used first as mashed potatoes after paring away the damage.
The patch was deep turned with a spading fork during harvest. It took a lot of passes with the tiller to return the resulting clods of Iowa clay loam to a friable condition. It took good nights rest to return me to normal.