Sunday, October 14, 2012

A "Good Year" for Chipmunks

If I had been purposely growing chipmunks this year, I'm pretty sure I could say that I had a bumper crop. I am not alone in this. At least part of the problem was the drought. Chipmunks (and squirrels in some people's yards) all figured out that the gardens were watered and full of moisture-laden produce, which they proceeded to munch on.

The situation could have been worse. In some yards, chipmunks (and/or other pestiferous mammals) took one or two bites out of nearly every tomato produced. At least my tomatoes were spared!  Here in my yard, it turns out that the chipmunks pretty much stuck with the sweet potatoes.

Today was fairly warm, and we've been without rain for several days - all good for harvesting sweet potatoes -  so I dug the sweets up this afternoon. Every plant had at least one big potato with significant munching damage.

It's hard to complain about the approximately 22 pounds of good sweets that I was able to put into the basket to bring in, but  I couldn't help thinking (somewhat wistfully) of one really spectacular year for sweets, years ago, when the plants averaged something like 6 pounds each of total production.

Is it like that for everyone? Do we all look back, with a little regret or longing, thinking about that one really great harvest year, even though the current harvest is absolutely fine? Twenty-two pounds of sweet potatoes will take us pretty far into the winter; it seems like "sour grapes" to complain, but there was that one year...

The sweets I brought in still need to be set up for curing. That typically involves either our small space heater or a small lamp with an incandescent bulb (they get nice and toasty), but I'm not sure yet how to set that up in the new arrangement of my house. Everything is just a little bit different.

One way or another, it will get done, because curing the sweets in a warm place does amazing things to the flavor, but the exact set-up is yet-to-be-determined.

Here's hoping that everyone else had a great year for sweet potatoes and a less-than-good-year for chipmunks!


  1. Yay for 22 lbs of sweet potatoes! I hope to have that kind of success next year. The chipmunks took out our tomatoes, unfortunately. It didn't help that the kids think they're cute running across the yard.

  2. How many plants did you have? I never did get my sweet potatoes planted this year - the right time to plant was just about when I got out of the hospital. And recovering from that took far longer than I wished! Now I really wish I had found a way to plant some, but.... This will just make me more determined to plant next year. The ones I've gotten from the store so far are only ok.

    We used to live right near LSU where the Beaureguard variety was developed and we could buy a big box of sweets from the ag students, off the side of the road on campus. That was nice.

  3. Hi Owlfan!
    I had seven plants in the ground - three Beauregard and four Porto Ricans. I had originally intended to try a third variety (and had left space for a few more plants), but when my father became ill all kinds of things dropped off the "to-do" list.

    A lot of the sweet potatoes in the stores here are Georgia Jet; I'm not sure they're as good as Beauregard, but it could just be that the extra bit of heat in Louisiana makes the sweets there extra-good.

    Some of the big home-improvement stores sell Beauregard slips in the spring, so you might want to keep an eye out for them in late April or early May.

    Hope your fall garden is off to a good start!


  4. My local ace hardware sells Beaureguard slips in the spring, usually mid May. They have been quite tasty in the past.

    My fall garden isn't much. I'm still getting a few last tomatoes and some banana peppers.


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