Ups and downs

I managed to get 19 tomato plants and 10 bell pepper plants in to the ground in the middle of last week during the one sunny, warm day we had. I also got red and Irish cobbler potatoes planted (have I mentioned what a pain potatoes are to plant? They are. But, the flavor is well worth the effort.)

Then, the weather went to shit. I should have expected it, Mother Nature never seems to want to operate on my schedule and usually has her own ideas. We’ve had rain and temps in the 40s every day since then and more rain predicted for the rest of the week and through the weekend. At least the wet weather this week is supposed to be accompanied by warmer weather rather than these seemingly endless damp, dark, chilly days.

Still have the Yukon gold potatoes and the Beauregard and Georgia Jet sweet potatoes waiting to hit dirt. The onions, romaine and mixed leaf lettuce are looking great. The spinach and carrots, not so great. Right after I planted the spinach and carrot seeds, we got rain, rain, rain, then it got HOT and windy  which made our clay-ey soil dry to an impenetrable crust. Poor little seedlings couldn’t break through. I replanted the spinach and because I spotted a few carrot seedlings, I left them to do what they will. If they don’t pop up this week, something else will go there.

We have chicks! 26 little fluffy peepers are now calling my family room home and we put a second clutch in the incubator last night. Pictures soon.

The fox is back. Little red bastard. He killed at least one of my turkeys this morning, poor thing. In the 15 minutes between finishing my morning chores and leaving for work this morning, that damned fox caught, killed and shredded the turkey. The other turkey couldn’t immediately be found, so he may have gotten that one, too. The fox is now on my hit list and the flock will be confined to the hen house until he’s gone.

I blew the engine in my mower and a little research discovered that it would be cheaper to buy a whole new mower than replace the engine, even with a remanned engine. Ugh. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Why couldn’t this have happened when the grass wasn’t growing out of control? Welcome to the jungle….

Slipping the tubers

I absolutely love sweet potatoes, both the tuber and the plant. The plants are gorgeous, and if you wanted to plant them among your flowers,  no one would know they were busy producing food AND being pretty! A delightful dual purpose plant. The sweet potato is from the same family of plants as the morning glory, and the flowers they produce look just like a morning glory.

The flavor of the grocery store tubers isn’t bad, but, like a hot house tomato compared to a homegrown tomato, just cannot compare to the rich, sweet, earthy flavor of a homegrown sweet potato.

Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes take a bit more effort to grow. You can’t just cut up a sweet potato with an eye on each bit and plant it. Well, I imagine you could, but without much success. You could cut one in half and force roots and slips, but you end up losing the productivity one tuber is capable of.

Sweet potatoes do best if you take an organic, homegrown sweet potato and put it in a jar in a sunny window until it starts sprouting. Grocery store sweet potatoes are generally coated in an anti-growth chemical and typically won’t sprout, no matter how much sun and water you give them.

Sweet potatoes with slips.

Take  your sweet potato and poke toothpicks into it about halfway in it so half the potato sits in the water. I have well water, I don’t know how well they will do in chemicalized city water.  These guys have been in a sunny southern-facing window for about a month. They were a bit slow to sprout but once they did, they went bonkers!  It’s time for the next step.

Close up of slips.

Slips, beautiful slips!  The potatoes have been more slip productive than I thought they would be. Gently take the slip between your fingers as close as you can to the potato and twist. It will come right off.

Slips off the potato and into the water.

After you twist the slips off, place them in a shallow pan of water where in about a week they will start growing roots. You can plant the slip directly in the garden if you wish, but there is still a chance of frost here so I’m rooting the slips before I put them in the garden. Either way works.

Slips slipped, potatoes naked.

And, back into the sunny window both potatoes and slips go.

Roots, beautiful roots

About a week later, we have roots on the slips….

More slips!

And more slips coming in on the potatoes. Oh, that middle one looks like it’s done. Guess it’s to the compost heap for that one. The nice thing about slipping sweet potatoes instead of growing the roots and slips on the potato then planting the potato is you end up with MORE sweet potato plants this way. They will keep producing slips that you can root and plant as long as the potato keeps on producing, unlike that poor little middle guy who is spent.

Yeah, sweet potatoes are a lot of work, more than just planting a seed and letting it grow, but, when you are digging up piles of beautiful tubers that will keep for a couple of months in a cool, dark, dry place, you know they are so worth the extra work.

Happy planting!