Sweet Potatoes for 2017

Here is a post that is a couple weeks late.

I was a bit worried this year that I might not find sweet potato plants. A friend from work and I usually keep an eye out and buy them locally when we see them. After striking out at the usual spots I was finally able to find some. I have to say, these plants look to be some of the best we have had. Time will tell if they actually produce in the fall.

These were planted Memorial Day Weekend, May 28th.

Finally found some sweet potato plants at one of the local Lowes

Finally found some sweet potato plants at one of the local Lowes

Decent looking sweet potato plants this year

Decent looking sweet potato plants this year

Deep hole for the tall plants

Deep hole for the tall plants

Just the top leaves are left above ground

Just the top leaves are left above ground

All 12 plants planted

All 12 plants planted

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Celebrating a milestone

This post marks the 300th post to Matt’s Garden Blog!

Who would have thought all those many years ago that I’d still be writing posts about that small patch of ground in the back corner of the yard.  My first post was all the way back in early April 2010.  The posts were not as detailed or consistent back then (that hasn’t really changed) and the images were not quite as clear.  The first image posted was a couple weeks after the blog was established using a now old and retired iPhone 3G.

First garden image posted to the blog.

First garden image posted to the blog.

The gardens have certainly grown and evolved since then. Most notable expansions are the two new garden beds and the perimeter fencing.

Installing the two new expansion beds

Installing the two new expansion beds

Garden with new perimeter fence

Garden with new perimeter fence

I’ve tried to grow a few different vegetables over the years.  I tired Broccoli a couple times, Brussels Sprouts a few years, Carrots most years, Lima Beans a couple, Onions most of the time recently, Yukon Potatoes once, Spinach quite a few times, Sunflowers, Sweet Corn for the second year, Sweet Potatoes quite a bit recently and Yellow Squash pretty consistently now that I started.

The permanent fixtures of the garden have been the Cucumbers, Green Beans, Lettuce,  RadishTomatoes,  Snap Peas and Zucchini.

I have to admit, if someone asked be how long I have been updating this garden blog, I would not have believed that this is now the start of the seventh year.  Will I make another 300 posts and/or seven years?  I guess you’ll have to stay tuned/subscribed and find out.

Happy gardening!

Time to order some seeds

First off, Happy New Year and welcome to the 2017 season of the garden blog!  I hope to do a better job keeping the blog updated this year, but a lot of that will depend on how busy I get with work and life.

The last couple years, I have been using some of the seeds I had purchased from past years.  While it did same me some money, last year I noticed some issues with germination and overall yields.  Irregardless, it was time to replenish the seed cache as I have used up most of the stock.

The order this year isn’t too much different than in years past but there are a few new comers and variety changes.  Most notably new this year is Kale.  We’re a bit late to the Kale bandwagon but have started adding it into the salad mixes and I must say I am liking the color and texture it brings.  It tastes decent and at least makes the salad look healthy right up until I dump too much dressing on it.

Other notables, while not entirely new, in the second year of growing sweet corn, I am going to a childhood favorite variety.  This year I am going to give ‘Kandy Korn’ a try.  I promise to not over plant the garden this year.

I’m also going to mix up the tomato varieties again this year.  ‘Oh Happy Day’ and ‘Cherry Baby’ will join the favorite of the past few years ‘Brandy Boy’.

Finally a new variety of cucumber will be tried. I was not happy with the cucumbers last year as they just really never did much.  This time around I am going to give ‘Burpee Hybrid II’ a chance.  The claim of being disease resistant sounds very appealing to me as I seem to constantly have some mildew or fungus killing off my plants before they get to the end of the season.

Below is the full list of seeds and plants ordered.  I’ll pick up Sweet Potatoes locally closer to planting time.

Item Number: 55610A1 Pkt. (200 seeds)
Item Number: 51474A1 Pkt. (2 oz.)
Item Number: 69501C3 Pkts (1 of Each)
Item Number: 68072A1 Pkt. (100 seeds)
Item Number: 53595A1 Pkt. (30 seeds)
Item Number: 13789C75 plants each variety (225 plants total)
Item Number: 53512A1 Pkt. (300 seeds)
Item Number: 60855A1 Pkt. (1000 seeds)
Item Number: 62450A1 Pkt. (25 Seeds)
Item Number: 61101A1 Pkt. (35 seeds)
Item Number: 51205A1 Pkt. (25 seeds)
Item Number: 54310A1 Pkt. (25 seeds)
Item Number: 63480A1 Pkt. (20 seeds)
Item Number: 61861A1 Pkt. (3000 seeds)

Sweet potatoes

Surprise!  Despite the lack of posts this year, the garden does still exist. I still hope to write a sweet corn recap post as well, but will document the 2016 Sweet Potato harvest first.

Today I dug up the sweet potatoes and closed down the garden with this final harvest. So, how did they do?  Check the pictures below.

Nice, loose soil for the potatoes to grow in this year.

Nice, loose soil for the potatoes to grow in this year.

Yield from the first row (west most which gets the most sun)

Yield from the first row (west most which gets the most sun)

Middle row yield. Only two plants in this row, so harvest was lighter.

Middle row yield. Only two plants in this row, so harvest was lighter.

Yield from the third row. Had three surviving plants, but also got the least amount of sun.

Yield from the third row. Had three surviving plants, but also got the least amount of sun.

Yield from the third row. Had three surviving plants, but also got the least amount of sun.

Gabrielle helping to demonstrate the size of the potatoes this year.

All the sweet potatoes piled up together.

All the sweet potatoes piled up together.

Vertical Ventures

After watching the garden grow over the past few years, I came up with a couple ideas to take advantage of the airspace above the garden.  The first idea is to try to get the yellow Golden Egg squash to grow up instead of out.  Last year the plants ended up trailing off outside their home bed, across the walkway and up into the neighboring bed.  They don’t appear to be a vining type plant, so I imagine it will take a bit of coaxing to grow vertically, but I figure I’ll give it a try even if it means tying the plant up to the trellis.  Nothing too fancy for the trellis.  I just bough a 4 ft folding panel trellis from Gardener Supply last year when they were on sale.  I liked the fact that it had larger openings which I think will help give the plant some room to fit.

Trellis for Golden Egg Yellow Squash

Trellis for Golden Egg Yellow Squash

View of the opposite side of the experimental squash trellis

View of the opposite side of the experimental squash trellis

The second idea has to do with sunflowers and pole beans.  Having grown sunflowers the past couple years as well as pole beans, I started to wonder if perhaps I could get a second crop of beans using the tall stalks of the sunflowers as supports. Today, I decided to give the idea a try. I had some leftover pole bean seeds and planted them along the already well established sunflowers. I’m not sure if the beans will like to grab a hold of the sunflower stalks or not. I’m also not sure they will get enough sun tucked under the fairly thick canopy. In the previous years, the sunflowers were always planted in a single row going east-west. This year I have a double row running north-south. We’ll just have to see how it goes, but I’m thinking the orientation could be better than what I have this year. Oh well, even if it is a fail, I am only out about a dozen bean seeds.

Organic pole bean towers

Organic pole bean towers

 

Catch up post

I’ve been neglecting the blog lately and hopefully this catch up post will get me back into the swing of things.  I took a family trip up to Chicago last weekend to check out my sister and her husband’s new house as well as give the kids a taste of a big city.  Before leaving, I took some pictures of the garden with the intention of writing a status update for the blog.  Well, that was a week ago and I am just now getting the post written.  Last week was the time in the garden where everything looks nice and neat.  Not overgrown, not overcrowded.  No troubles with insects or disease yet, just a happy time.  By the end of this month, that carefree time will be over.  Below are some pictures showing the state of the garden before we left for our long weekend.

Here we have the Bush Green Beans, Zucchini and two tomato plants anchoring the far end of the bed.

Here we have the Bush Green Beans, Zucchini and two tomato plants anchoring the far end of the bed.

Next up are the sweet potato plants.  I'm waiting for them to start vining out so I can bury them deeper with the mounds of soil.

Next up are the sweet potato plants. I’m waiting for them to start vining out so I can bury them deeper with the mounds of soil.

Sunflowers are starting to stretch their legs

Sunflowers are starting to stretch their legs

Brussels Sprouts.  Two good, one sick and one already gone.

Brussels Sprouts. Two good, one sick and one already gone.

Four Golden Egg yellow squash

Four Golden Egg yellow squash

Sugar Snap Peas all in bloom

Sugar Snap Peas all in bloom

Mess of onions

Mess of onions

Four more tomato plants

Four more tomato plants

Basil and Lettuce

Basil and Lettuce

Cucumbers with some lettuce and radish growing in the shade of the trellis

Cucumbers with some lettuce and radish growing in the shade of the trellis

Pole beans just starting to climb

Pole beans just starting to climb

Two rows of carrots

Two rows of carrots

Closeup of the blooming tomotoes

Closeup of the blooming tomotoes

Since the above pictures were taken last week, I have managed to harvest a couple more vegetables. First up was some peas which I finally had a chance to steam up tonight. Very tasty. I also thinned some of the onions and chopped them up for a salad and tacos.

First harvest of peas

First harvest of peas

A couple green onions to be chopped up for a salad

A couple green onions to be chopped up for a salad

 

And finally… Sweet potatoes. 

A big thanks to my buddy Dave for picking up a pack of Sweet Potatoes for me this past weekend. I finally got a chance to get them planted in the garden last night (just in time for the cool, low 40s night time lows). Unfortunately, I left them outside the castle walls for one too many nights and the blasted bunnies chewed off most of the leaves on two of the nine plants.  They all still had at least one leaf left, so I planted them anyway in the hopes that they can recover.

After giving the Georgia Jet variety a try last year, I am back to Beauregard again.  Mostly this is because this was the variety that was available locally but also due to the rough and cracked skins of the potatoes last year.  They tasted fine and certainly grew quite large, but they were a bit of work to get the skin all peeled before cooking.

Captain of the newly planted sweet potatoes

Captain of the newly planted sweet potatoes

A row of sweet potatoes with the far one the most bunny mangled

A row of sweet potatoes with the far one the most bunny mangled