I think I am in the home stretch for planting the summer garden. Over the weekend I put up a trellis and planted pole beans. Then yesterday I prepped the bed for sweet potatoes and made a ridge of soil about 40 feet long to plant them in. The loose soil makes it easy for the roots to grow and expand, and I’ve been planting them this way for many years now. I set them about 16 inches apart in the row, and back in 2013 I wrote about the whole process and exactly how I plant them.
Today I planted the slips I started myself from last year’s roots, Purple and Bonita. I started my slips in water, then potted them up in soil a few weeks before I set them out. I’m still waiting on the ones I ordered from Sand Hill Preservation Society, but the bed is ready and there’s still plenty of time to get them planted. We have a long growing season here, and most of the sweet potato cultivars I grow only take a little over three months to make sizable roots. I am trialing several varieties for the first time, including Garnet, Red Japanese, Korean Purple, and Golden Sweet. The Red Japanese is a white fleshed sweet potato I have buying at a local Chinese grocery, and the flavor is outstanding. I am hoping I can grow some as tasty as the ones I have bought. The ones I ordered will be shipped bare root and I will get them directly in the ground ASAP after they are delivered.
Now that I have gotten most everything planted, I began work on mulching. I spread newspaper around the tomatoes as I planted them. The remesh cages hold the newspaper in place, since I use the wires at the bottom of the cages to ‘spear’ the paper and hold it until I can get it covered with straw.
I put the straw both outside and inside the cages to keep down weeds and conserve moisture. It also helps to keep the soil cool, which is not a bad thing given our summer heat. The high temperatures have already been near 90°F the last few days, which is unusual for early June but very typical here for July and August. Another plus is it keeps soil from splashing up on the foliage, which can spread diseases like septoria leaf spot. I believe that is Sun Sugar in the below photo, a golden yellow cherry hybrid that has larger fruit than Sun Gold.
I also hilled soil up around the potatoes yesterday. I planted the potatoes back in early April, eight plants each of Red Lasoda, Kennebec and German Butterball. I side-dressed with fertilizer and hilled them once already, and I may likely hill them again for weed control if necessary.
I began mulching around the squash plants today before I got rained out. I use the same newspaper covered with straw treatment I used on the tomatoes. I plan to get back out there tomorrow, weather permitting, and continue mulching the rest of the main garden.
Meanwhile, my wife has been busy in the asparagus patch. We are done harvesting for the year, and she has been on a mission to weed the beds and mulch. She used shredded newspaper in the rows where the asparagus is growing, and cardboard covered with straw in the walkways between the rows. I fertilized the asparagus back in April with a balanced blend, and I will apply a little more of a higher nitrogen fertilizer soon. You can see in the below photo she has the beds looking great!
I hope you have enjoyed this update on the garden progress here at Happy Acres.