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Posts Tagged ‘sweet potatoes’

Hard to believe that it will be the equinox and Jim’s birthday in just a few hours.   We have a pile of stuff to burn, so I suppose we’ll have a bonfire tonight. I had one last week because the pile had gotten unmanageable.   I had pulled out the black bean vines and harvested the pods.   So the vines needed to be burned, as there were plenty of sundry insect eggs deposited on the leaves.  The patch did REALLY well this year.   Bear in mind that it occupied the part of the bean bed not being used by the pole beans.   In an area that was 4’x16′ I harvested almost ten pounds of black beans, once I had them shelled and dried.   I think that is outstanding production. The cats thought the black beans in the shell were fascinating.   Miss Mallory, being blind, checks everything out by sound and smell.  The crate of bean pods sounded very very interesting, as I had to shove them down in it to get all the pods in there.   As it rested in the kitchen, it made intriguing crackling and rustling noises. DSCF0526 After I finished shelling the beans, I went out and dug the sweet potatoes.   Those vines had gotten delusions of grandeur, were determined to take over the whole northwest section of the garden.   They were well on their way to doing just that. DSCF0528 They did not seem to mind me walking on them when I was headed out to pick the tomatoes, which are at the back of the picture.   What you do not see in this shot is the fact that some of the vines had found their way under the fence and were on their way towards the neighbor’s yard.   Thank goodness this is a non-hardy tropical plant, or we could be in danger of being covered with sweet potato vines the way Alabama is covered with kudzu. They look so pretty on the garden cart. DSCF0532 That is 48.2 pounds of sweet potatoes.   I have a similar quantity of butternut squash curing in the back bedroom.  The freezers are packed with vegetables and fruit.   I just made a liter of herb vinegar for salad dressing.  I put up the last batch of sweet gherkins the other day. Anyway, the bonfire took care of the old cucumber and squash vines as well as the bean vines. While my back was turned, my dill self seeded. DSCF0516 DSCF0517 There is cilantro in this bed too, and the parsley plant just to the east of the dill has seeded the path next to it.   I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to plant parsley and have it not take.   Then you have a plant to go seed and throw seeds into a bark mulch and not get watered all summer, and voila!   Happy little parsley plants.  Go figure. Jim has been gone for a couple of weeks, off to visit people on the East Coast and to attend a class in making Windsor chairs for little people.   He got home yesterday, and it is REALLY great to have him back.   He isn’t a very noisy guy, but the place is preternaturally quiet when he is gone. While he was gone I spent some quality time with the slide collection from my father’s house.   Found some real gems that I will be sharing soon.   These two shots are from around the same era in my life.   The first is of me in my high school graduation gown and cap, sharing my diploma with Horace, my boa constrictor.   The second one was taken in the Sierra foothills as we released Herman, the bull snake, into the wild. PICT0167 img614 Yes, I kept snakes when I was a teenager.   I guess that is what happens when you are born in the Year of the Serpent, as I was. The chairs Jim made arrived here just a couple of hours after he did.   Here is a shot of the new little chair next to the Papa chair.  The little chair still needs to be sanded and painted, but I think it looks beautiful. DSCF0537 This is a chair that will be suitable for a child that is three or so, and will be useful to the young person until they start to shoot up around ten or eleven.   After that, it can be used for seating for a teddy bear, and then a place to stash your coat and purse when you reach working age. I convinced him to invest in the bending form for this chair, because I would like to see a small cottage industry happen.  When I suggested this to him over the phone, he pointed out that he had only been retired for two months, and I was already thinking of a job for him.  Well, if one can make a little money doing something one loves, why not?  This would be a great thing for a proud grand parent to give to a beloved little one.  At $450, it is not inexpensive but destined to last for centuries. Fall is definitely here.   The sumac is turning, as is the poison ivy.   The Petite Prairie is looking fantastic in the evening light right now, as the tall grasses are making their seed heads. DSCF0533 Stay warm.   Hug someone you love, you never know how long you have with them.

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I wonder if any of you are familiar with the character Gomer Pyle.   He was a naive marine recruit from Mayberry, N.C. (of the Andy Griffith show fame) who was a constant thorn in the side of his drill sergeant.   This was actually one of the shows I watched when I was a young thang, and when you read the title of this post you have to hear it with a Southern twang.

Anyway, you are probably surprised to have two posts in one day.   I have had a couple of surprises this morning.

The first was an inevitable progression.   Mallory and Impy have been playing together, chasing each other up and down the hall and batting at each other from opposite sides of the cat tree.   So I suppose I shouldn’t have been very surprised to see this this morning.

I suppose that now that I have embarrassed them by posting actual evidence of their relationship on line that they won’t sleep together for another month.

The other surprise came when I was out digging in nutrients in the garden in preparation for planting more of my winter cover crop, also sometimes called green manure.   The place I was working was the bed where I grew sweet potatoes, and imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had missed some of them in the initial harvest.  I have this vision of sweet potatoes scrunching themselves down and saying “Not me!”

Now, honestly.   I can understand how I missed tubers that were this size:

I can even rationalize a few escaping my vigilance when they have reached this proportion:

But for the LIFE of me, I cannot grasp how these monsters escaped me:

 

COME ON!  That one is TEN inches long.

As it was, the pile I brought into the house from the second harvest was pretty good sized.

These guys sustained a lot of damage, so I’ll be grating them up for the sweet potato slaw which is my planned contribution to the party potluck on Saturday.   That and the carrot cake which Jim has requested for a birthday cake.

Okay.   Now really, I’m done.   Really.

 

 

 

 

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Sweet potatoes

We are basking in the humidity left behind after the remnants of hurricane Isaac passed through our area.   We were blessed by 2 1/2 inches of badly needed rain.  The soil is soft, the grass is growing.  The Texas blue sage is blooming out in the Petite Prairie.   The honey bees are visiting it right now.

Out in the garden, one can hardly tell how stressful the weeks of drought and heat were.  The real evidence of that was my $150+ water bill….

You can tell there was stress when you get close up to the beans and the tomatoes.  If I wasn’t involved in watching the Giants play the Cubs, I’d be out there pulling the beans out.  They were pretty much a bust this year.   I may try bush beans next year, they seem to tolerate heat and drought better than pole beans.

However, the bed right in the front of that picture is where the potato patch that the ants decimated used to be.  I planted it to a green manure crop of buckwheat, which is ready to be turned in.  I’m not doing that just yet because the blooming buckwheat is a food resource for my honeybees, who haven’t had a lot of great nectar and pollen sources available lately.   Right at the very front is the sweet potato bed, which apparently is not nearly so attractive to the ants, as it is doing quite well.   Or one of the patches, I should say.   I sort of stick them in wherever there is space, so in addition to having them in the bed by the gate, there are three plants stuck in behind the carrots and beets.  In the photo they are hiding behind the asparagus patch.  In addition to not being ant food, at least not yet, the sweet potatoes are very heat and drought tolerant, probably because they really are a tropical plant, native to Central and South America.

If you go over behind the asparagus, you discover that the vines have gotten large enough and old enough that they are blooming.   Sweet potatoes are members of the genus Ipomoea, which is also the family that contains morning glories.   You can really tell they are related when you look at the blossom.

The vegetable garden is not the only place that I have sweet potatoes planted.   I also have them in the whiskey barrels next to the pergola.  Rather than plant the ornamental sweet potato vines sold at the garden centers, I prefer to have something that will also provide me with something to eat.  I find the “plain” sweet potatos to be quite ornamental as they drape themselves over the edge of the barrels.   They share that space with a purple hyacinth bean, which climbs the pergola and disports itself amongst the wisteria vines, much to the joy of the hummingbirds, who seem to prefer the bean blossoms above everything else except possibly the canna lilies.

It makes a great view from my kitchen sink, where I spend a certain amount of time washing dishes now that I have relegated my dishwasher to the status of under-counter storage.   Of course, that is another story for another time.

 

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