garden review: sweet potatoes to Z

Garden Planning

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.

7 Comments. Leave new

  • Zinnias = the best garden flower, big, bright, bountiful and they never ever fail! I saved seed last season from many flower heads, I hope I have good luck!

  • Marian(LondonUK)
    January 15, 2011 9:39 AM

    Lovely journal. We did Zinnias the colours are wonderful. Did Dahlias from seed they got to about 4 foot and gave us lots of cut flowers.
    Marian (London UK)

  • Just a note for the Sweet Potatoes, useing ground cover`s to heat the soil will increase your yealds.

  • I wasn't able to do a tomato garden this year – the weather was great for it – but I did one in 2009 that turned out fabulously, despite the frequent rain and clouds. Yet, I had NO luck with allegedly doofus-proof summer squashes in 2009. Very strange.

  • I have a question about your sweet potatoes. Do you root the whole potato? That probably sounds stupid but I think I've heard that with regular potatoes you can do it in chunks. And now that I wrote that i really sound dumb because i know they're not the same thing. Oh well…be gentle with me!

  • I cut my sweets and suspended about 1/3 of the tuber in water using three tooth picks. I ate the other 2/3. The sweets I am saving this year to root are the tiny ones, so I do not need to cut. I have a basket full in the basement but no sprouts yet. I will bring them up to the warmer kitchen now that I am reminded of this.

    Maybe Donald will answer too. I am a novice, like you.

  • I, too, am interested in growing sweet potatoes this year, so was really glad for this timely suggestion. I'll get on it.
    Also, do you grow your gardens exclusively for your family? And how much of the year do you eat your produce. I'm interesting in more storage ideas and extending the growing season. Too much work for just a few months of produce.


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