Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sweet Potatoes Day 2

It did rain last night which is good. Things are still pretty dry. But my soil is fairly sandy and it was dry to start with so I figured it would be fine to dig up the sweet potatoes. Yesterday's dig left me with some sore thigh muscles. When I dig, I loosen the soil a little with the fork, but I don't like to use it much as it damages the sweet potatoes quite a bit. So I do it by hand while I squat near the bed. Needless to say I've gotten all my squats in for the week.

This side was much easier to dig out the potatoes. The soil was dry and loose. The soil yesterday was fairly compact. I was breaking up hard clods the whole time. This time once the soil was loosened with the fork, I could pull the plants out one at a time. I still had to dig around with my hands as there were quite a few lower down that needed more gentle digging. The bed is 8.5' long and I had seven plants in each of the three rows. You can see six that were pulled in the above photo. I was shocked how well they did. Some had huge tubers.

I had 21 plants of Beauregard. They made a huge quantity of tubers. Though I have them stacked and curing in some plastic boxes, I'll have to find more boxes to do it right. Currently they are stacked with paper grocery bags between layers, but that makes the bottom ones way too humid. Even with the lid partly off there is condensation starting. That can't be good.

The above Garnets came from just two plants. I had trouble making the slips so I only had two. They were planted in the corners where the circle ends. They almost have three sides of brick surrounding them. They produced abundantly. Not only that they were aggressive. The purple ones I dug yesterday didn't really root much where the vines touched. But these did so all over the bed. I swear there are some Garnets way into the Beauregard bed. Some are in the Beauregard pile since that was their section, but with the darker red skin I think I have them miss filed. The tubers over there were all small, but there were a couple large ones from rooted vines closer to the main plants. I'm not sure if they were so aggressive because of the warmth of the corners (I didn't see this in the purple bed at all), or because the variety is so aggressive. And the leaves are lovely. They are much less heart shaped, and more deeply lobed. This would be a good one for a pot with flowers I think because of that.

All in all the yield was much higher than the other bed. I'll probably decide to keep one of these varieties for next year. I think I'll grow Purple and which ever of these taste best. And I'd love to try Georgia Jet. I hear it grows extremely well in New England.

After the bed was cleaned up I reset the bricks for this and the other bed. These bricks are really just placed on the ground and not set. I didn't want to really set them as that would take away areas of uncompacted soil. You know, places were plants will actually grow. The areas in the bed near the path are already fairly shallow and compact because they were laid down correctly. After that was done I added a bit of fertilizer and compost and planted my fall spinach. This spinach isn't for eating in the fall. It is too late for that. But it will start plants that will overwinter and it will give me some of the first greens of spring. So I've already started planting for spring.

I find my rotation for this bed fairly nice. I got a crop of Asian greens in the early spring. In June the sweet potatoes were planted. Now I'm planting some spinach. It has been a very productive rotation. Would that all mine were as good. Right now I have a bed of lettuce that is once again bolting. I just never got around to thinning it out or harvesting it. I'm not excited about lettuce. I just haven't been interested in salads, so those crops have been neglected. But the spinach for spring can't be neglected. After a long winter, it is a much loved crop.


  1. WOW! that's a huge amount of sweet potatoes for such a small planting area! Absolutely fantastic harvest.

  2. Those are really worth waiting for. I didn't know about curing them. Terrific.

  3. Really amazing!!! Great great potatoes harvest!!!

  4. If you mulch with straw, maybe that might help with the digging?

  5. Try covering your plastic boxes with a towel instead of the lid.

    If you get a chance, some day I'd like to see the yield per plant for each variety.

  6. Oh WELL DONE!
    Very good sweet potato harvest especially you don't have long summer weather.