Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sweet Potato finale

That's it?  Only 12 potatoes for 5 plants?!
I wish every blog could be words of wisdom or some great reveal of a harvest.  However, sometimes the lessons from the garden are the kind that make you learn and move on.  In this case, I learned that for our family, growing sweet potatoes were not worth the effort.  When considering the amount of garden space they consumed, the length of time they consumed it, and the tiny harvest as a result, we won't be repeating the process next year.  In the words of my son, they were "an epic fail!". 

Underground pests sampled our potatoes
Ok, so maybe it wasn't that bad.  Afterall, if we learn something in the process, then it's never a fail.  That's a lesson for all aspects of life!  Now don't think that I'd give up on growing a veggie just because it didn't take the first time.  Not at all.  But when you consider that my husband is the only one in the family who likes sweet potatoes (and not so much this gardener) then I'd much rather buy him his sweet potatoes and save the precious gardening space for other much more loved family vegetables.  So until the kids are ready to give up their swingset for me to have another raised bed, then we won't be growing sweet potatoes anytime soon.  That said, there are a few other things I learned like how to harvest them.  For those of you still waiting to harvest, here's a quick and easy description.

1.  Pull up the vines.  Yes, some sweet potatoes might come up with them.  Bonus!  I've read that you can eat the vines. I'll leave that to you to google the recipes.  I tossed mine out.

2.  Use a garden tool to dig them up.  Start about 12" away from the center of the plant so you don't bruise any.

3.  Lay them out to dry but not too long in the sun.  You can eat them right away, or cure them for storage.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Planting Fall Vegetables

Don't hang up those gardening tools just yet!  There's a whole other season of planting just beginning.  If you're a summer gardener only, try your hand at the cold weather vegetables.  Much like the Spring veggies I planted around St. Patty's Day, the Fall ones also thrive in the cold temperatures and aren't scared away by frost.  They prefer cooler temps!  So clear out the garden, or fill in the bare spots among your Summer veggies still growing (in my case, tomatoes, zucchini and sweet potatoes) and start planting. 

Need to know what to plant, try these great vegetables for the Fall.

1.  Broccoli and cauliflower:  plant small plants at this point in the year if you can find them at a garden center or nursery.  If the broccoli doesn't become full grown before winter, no worries, it will over-winter and come back in the Spring. 

2.  Lettuces and such:  In this category I would place romaine, spinach, kale, swiss chard, loose leaf lettuce, iceberg, etc.  If it's a lettuce, it likes cooler weather.  A bonus with many of the lettuces is that some of them can reproduce for you more than once.  See my cheat sheet for growing lettuce to see which one is best for you.  The spinach and loose leaf lettuces can still be planted from seed.

3.  Radishes:  These are another great veggie to plant from seed.  They take only 28 days from seed to harvest.  That's gardening for those with a short-attention span (think kids!).  Need a reminder of why you should plant radishes?  Click here.

4.  Carrots:  It's not too late to plant these from seed either.  Hopefully you saved your seeds from the Spring plantings.  If not, ask around.  They'll be hard to find in stores.  If you're local, I have plenty to share!

Friday, September 7, 2012

100 days of Patience in the Garden

On the 100th day of school, my kids usually have a party and there's a lot of hoopla leading up to it.  I'm having my own sort of party this week as I realize that it's almost 100 days since the planting of my sweet potatoes.  That seems to be the magical number for harvesting.  Afterall, the potatoes are underground.  I can't look at them to see if they're ready.  It's like setting the timer on the oven with the recommended amount of time for cooking.  If you've planted sweet potatoes this summer, you're probably like me and anxiously awaiting the timer to ding to dig them up.  Patience in the garden is so hard sometimes. This is my first summer so I have no idea if they really grew underground or if I just have a lot of pretty vines.  I have noticed in the past week slight bulging in the soil which I hope means I have some grand prize winners growing underground.  "Patience is a virtue", and "curiousity killed the cat".  So I'm hoping to fall somewhere in between. Maybe next week I'll dig up one plant to check the status.  My own "toothpick" test.  Stay tuned.