Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Slips and Strawberries

I was checking the weather forecast. At this time of the year I do that a lot. Usually I plant my sweet potatoes on June 1st. But the reality is that it is a very fluid date. Starting next week the predictions are for warmer weather. So I decided Monday was a good day to plant them. But first I wanted to root the slips.

As you can see above I grow my slips in jars of water. I have three kinds of sweet potatoes - Purple, Beauregard, and Garnet. I'm slowly learning about growing them from slips. Garnet is a very very slow producer of slips. Last year I barely got any Garnets because they were a couple weeks behind the others. This year I started them very early. I can't remember when as I didn't write it down. I think at the beginning of February. The other two I started at the beginning of March. Well Purple is very precocious. I should have started them at the end of March.

As you can see by their root mass when I removed them from the jar, they were a little overly enthusiastic about growing. As I broke the slips off of the sweet potato I noticed that I got about twice as many of these as the other kinds. But that is fine. Purple is a wonderful sweet potato.

I like to root my slips in water for a week or a little less. Just until the roots get about half an inch long. I don't like them too long as those roots form the potatoes. I want them to find their own way in the soil. Sometimes when you plant and the roots are long they get squished together when planting. But that little extra time rooting indoors helps us here in our cool climate.

I did start one a bit early. I put it in the planter by my front door. I figured people grow ornamental sweet potatoes all the time to trail down the side of the pot. Garnets have very pretty foliage. So why not see if I get any extra sweet potatoes in my flowers.

When I was out in the yard I noticed that my strawberries are setting. I'm not going to get a lot this year, but I'd better get all the ones that the plants produce. I don't want the squirrels and the groundhogs eating them. So I found the netting in the basement and put it on. I just hope the strawberries do better than last year.

While I was there I noticed my figs. It looks like my winter insulation experiment was a success. Well at least the really heavy insulation. The lighter one didn't work nearly as well in the harsh winter we had. I don't see any growth on the old trunk, but there is still time yet. I'll give it a couple more weeks before I cut it all back. But the Paridisio that I insulated well has most of its trunk alive and a little bit of the branches. Most of the branches did die back a lot, but it might be enough to give it a good start this year. If it can produce before it gets too cold I'll be happy. If not I'm going to rip at least one of the figs out. I have visions of a persimmon tree. I suppose I ought to try a persimmon first to see if I even like it. Though it is hard to imagine a fruit I wouldn't love.

I looked at my plum tree too and sadly the aphids have already found it. That tree will be the death of me. Or at least I'll go bald from ripping my hair out in frustration. I'm going to have to spray with some insecticidal soap and fish emulsion soon. I just hate doing that. But I should put it on a two week spray schedule. I guess the good in that is that I can spray the favas easily too as I'll have the spray mixed up.


  1. I've never grown sweet potatoes before as we don't really eat them but you've definitely peaked my curiously about the process. I remember rooting a sweet potato when I was in 3rd grade and the mass of leaves that sprouted. It's have to put it on my things to do next spring.
    Yesterday, I noticed that the tips of my black currants were covered with hundreds of aphids. I just used a strong hose to blow them off. Hopefully they stay off. The young leaves on the cherry tree that I planted earlier this spring is full of holes. I was hoping to get away with not spraying this year but I guess that's not happening. Have you ever sprayed with neem oil. I have some I and I was wondering how effective it was.

  2. It sounds like the weather is the biggest challenge for you, as a gardener. My Fig tree is still small enough to bring indoors during the Winter, but I suppose it won't always be so, therefore I am reading carefully what you write about looking after Figs.
    If it makes you feel any better, my relationship with fruit trees is very much like yours - a constant battle! I'm better with veg.

  3. Love it- sweet potato vines are so pretty- why not get some food out of it as well! Good luck with the aphids. They haven't found their way to my garden yet, but I know they will.

  4. My unprotected figs died back to the ground this year. But they are coming out finally. I do love our persimmon trees. The 'firm when ripe' types are so nice to eat and easy to grow, with few pests. And pricey when I can find them in the market. Those trees have paid for themselves already and they aren't full sized yet. Unlike the peaches, which have yet to ripen any fruit.

  5. My strawberries are just starting to flower as well. I planted Fort Laramie last summer, so haven't had any fruit yet & am anxious to see how they are. I better get them netted as well - I've always had an issue with birds in the strawberries as they start to ripen, but never thought that squirrels could be a problem.

  6. Hello. I am new to your blog. I have a plum tree that has been on the property for over 10 years, and I have only been able to get plums off of it once due to the cold weather freezing the baby plums off. It was not a good choice when I was planting fruit trees.

  7. Here I thought I was the only one that wanted to grow a fruit tree and didn't know if I liked the fruit!! Hope your figs and strawberries do well. Nancy