SWEET POTATOES: Last year was my first try at sweet potatoes. I started from supermarket and CSA sweets, beginning rooting in mid winter. (I better get going on this year’s sprouts!) I rooted in water, then potted when it got hard to keep the water fresh for the big sprouts. I planted about 25 sprouts in a 4 by 4 patch to the southeast of my popcorn. In October my teenage son dug the patch and we ended up with a BIG basket full. Very exciting and DELICIOUS. I look forward to a second crop of sweet potatoes this year. I’ll have enough of my own sweets for sprouting this year. The only thing I’ll do different is to plant them in a sunnier spot. I read that this will give bigger potatoes. For some reason, I had thought that sweets were OK in shade. Not true. They like lots of heat and sun.
TOMATOES: After the terrible late blight two years ago, I planted all my Solenacea plants (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and potatoes) in my side yard last year. Its not full sun there, but tomatoes do OK. They ripen late – I didn’t get any ’til August – but they produced longer in the sheltered location – into October. I grew lots of different varieties and the plants did well, just not so many tomatoes. I ended up with maybe 30% of what I would have gotten in full sun. SO – this year I am excited to plant tomatoes once again in my community plot. I have a perfect bed reserved for them. I have room for about 20 plants and will use a post and string support system again (with the string tied to the base of the plants). I’ll harden off plants in my cold frame, so I don’t think I need the wall-o-waters. I am looking forward to great tomatoes this year!
WINTER SQUASH: It just wasn’t a great winter squash and pumpkin year for me last year. I think I need to fertilize better. I didn’t fertilize at all last year, only lots of compost and horse manure. A number of my plants just petered out very early in the season. The same happened at my parents garden, so it may have been due to weather conditions also. I grew only Waltham Butternut, which is by far my favorite winter squash. I really can’t complain though, as I still have 6 or 8 nice squashes in the basement and these should last the season for me. Come to think of it, I think I’ll bring one up and make pureed sweet potato and squash for dinner tomorrow. Yumm!
ZINNIAS: I think I’ll grow the big purple ones again this year.