Saturday, October 29, 2011

Definitely the End of Summer

For the next several days, the weather forecast is for lows in the 30s. Any warm-season crops left in the garden are going to be looking pretty miserable by the end of the week, unless they've been protected. In my garden, there are a few more tomato plants and peppers still in place, but those will be heading toward the compost heap sometime tomorrow.

I hope, especially, that everyone's sweet potatoes are inside. This year, I was lucky enough to be able to harvest sweet potatoes in three different gardens: my own, the Plant-a-row-for-the-hungry garden, and at Mr. Kastner's garden. Out at Mr. Kastner's place, there was a lot of help, which was a good thing because he had a whole lot of potatoes to dig up. The big harvest day was a couple of weeks ago, so these pictures are a little late going up. In this first picture, Mr. Kastner is the guy in the pink shirt, and his partner-in-gardening, Mr. Hankerson, is on the right in blue:



The potatoes were not all that easy to get out of the ground, and there was some discussion about the best way to pry them out without damaging them. The good news is that these were all grown on long, wide hills, so the digging wasn't so much "down" as it was "from the side."



These big clusters of sweets were pretty typical of what came out of the ground at each place where a slip had been planted back in early summer:



In all, there were three double-wide rows, each about 150 feet feet long, that had been planted. In each row, the slips had been planted about 9 or 10 inches apart. Mr. Kastner figured that he had planted close to 900 slips. Removing the vines and then digging up the sweet potatoes from that many plants was a big job!



Mr. Hankerson and Mr. Kastner had built some storage bins out of old wood pallets for storing the sweet potatoes while they cured in a metal "shed" (it looks like an old version of what 18-wheelers pull around out on the highways). When the bins were all placed inside the shed, a little heater and a fan went in there, too, along with a temperature & humidity gauge to help make sure the sweet potatoes stayed appropriately warm and the air moist.



They are going to be able to feed a lot of people with this many sweet potatoes.

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