Welcome to Harvest Monday, where we celebrate all things harvest related. Three weeks ago Mary (Mary’s Veggie Garden) was digging her Purple sweet potatoes and got a nice haul of them. Since my Purple plants had been in the ground for longer than hers, she suggested I dig a hill and see how they were doing. I finally got around to doing that on Friday, and I was pleasantly surprised to find over five pounds of them in that one hill. Purple has a purple skin and flesh and I have been growing them for several years now after Norma (Garden To Wok) sent me one so I could try it here at Happy Acres.
Last year was not a great year here for sweet potatoes, which I have attributed to applying too much nitrogen to the planting beds. This year I did a little test, planting one bed with no amendments or fertilizer at all and another one with a special blend that had very little N but ample amounts of P, K, S, Mg and minor elements that were indicated from my soil test results. Purple and the white-fleshed Bonita were planted in the same bed (the amended one) and at the same time (late May), so I decided to dig a hill of Bonita and see what I could find. That yielded four and a half pound of sweet potatoes. I was off to a great start, with ten pounds of sweet potatoes from only two hills! The biggest Bonita weighed exactly two pounds, while the biggest Purple was one ounce heavier. This is my third year growing Bonita, and it is the highest yielding and best tasting of the white-fleshed varieties I have tried to date.
Saturday I got out in the garden early to beat the heat and dug the other nine hills of Purple. All told, the ten hills yielded a bit over 35 pounds of sweet potatoes. This works out to 3.5 pounds per hill, which is better than this variety has ever done for me. Last year I got only 1.1 pounds per hill for Purple, which shows the effect too much nitrogen has on sweet potatoes. I’ll let them cure for a couple of weeks before we eat any of them, since they are not particularly sweet when they are first dug. I plan on digging the rest of the hills of Bonita later this week. The other bed was planted a couple of weeks later than the first bed, so I will let it go a bit longer before digging those. I’m growing a mixed bag of varieties there this year, and hopefully I will be able to narrow them down a bit for next year once I figure out our favorites.
In other news, the Tromba d’Albenga vines are still giving us plenty of squash to eat. The three in the below photo weighed eight pounds total, which is a LOT of squash for the two of us. I have harvested right at 50 pounds of these so far this year, which tells me two vines was probably one vine too many! Last year it didn’t do well for me, so I guess I overcompensated. The long straight necks are great for spiralizing or slicing up, which is one advantage to having them trellised. I am also dehydrating slices of it for later use, and the Benriner Japanese mandolin makes short work of slicing the squash into pieces of uniform thickness.
I harvested a couple of other squashes last week too, including the first of the hybrid neck pumpkin called Turkeyneck and a zucchini called Astia I have planted in a Smart Pot. The neck of Turkeyneck is all flesh, and this first one weighed six pounds with an even bigger one ripening on the vine. I’m curious to see how this one compares to the Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Squash I’ve grown in the past, though it needs to cure for a bit before I try it.
In the tomato department, I don’t always photograph the smaller ones like Mexico Midget. It doesn’t mean I’m not harvesting them though! In the below photo it is hanging out with Snow White and the larger Midnight Snack. Mexico Midget and Snow White are both open-pollinated varieties, and I have saved seed from both of them and plan to make them available in a seed giveaway later this year. Mexico Midget is incredibly sweet tasting and productive, and is one of my favorite small fruited tomatoes for snacking. I got the seeds originally from the Seed Savers Exchange, where it was a winner of their 2014 Tomato Tasting event.
I also found a couple of Captain Lucky tomatoes last week, which wound up on sandwiches. Captain Lucky is a fairly recent introduction, and a new favorite here with me and my wife. If you close your eyes when eating it, you would never guess what it looked like! Which just goes to show that looks are deceptive in fruits and veggies as well as other things. I have saved seeds from it also, and will share them later on as well. I refuse to sacrifice even a single fruit of these babies for seed saving, so I carefully scrape them out and eat the seedless slice. You can see in the below photo they are quite meaty and don’t have a lot of seeds.
Another favorite tomato here this year is an unnamed test variety from Artisan Seeds. They are working on what they are calling ‘baby beefsteaks‘ and I have one of them growing this year. They are so tasty I wish I had two or three plants instead of the one! This one may or not make the final grade, but I sure hope to get a chance to grow it or one like it next year. There’s a purple one that would be worth trying too. I am purposely being a bit vague so as to not disclose anything the breeders have not yet made public.
The container eggplants keep pumping out the fruits. These two do have names, Patio Baby and Fairy Tale, and both are AAS Winners that do quite well in containers. It’s amazing how well they do with so little effort on my part other than to keep them watered and then harvest the fruits. I cut this batch in half, tossed them with a bit of olive oil and salt and roasted them in the oven using a cast iron skillet. Everyone may get tired of looking at them on Harvest Monday, but I am surely not getting tired of eating them. They are also good for stir frying.
And a brand new tomato with a name is Red Racer, a 2018 AAS Winner that is described as a ‘cocktail tomato.’ The fruit is a lot like Mountain Magic, but the plants are compact determinate unlike the rambling MM. It’s a winner in my books. However I should have posed them on something more photogenic than an old cardboard box!
In the something new department, I cut one of the Joi Choi pac choi I have growing in a cold frame bed. It’s going into a mixed veggie and tofu stir fry I’m cooking up tonight for dinner, along with some of our eggplant and sweet peppers. It would grow a bit bigger but it weighed over a pound as-is which was plenty big enough for my needs. It had a little slug damage on the leaves but was otherwise in pretty good shape.
My wife and I managed a quick getaway last week to Brown County State Park, to enjoy nature and do a little hiking. We took a drive one day to Bean Blossom and ate lunch at a place called the Farmhouse Cafe, where another visitor offered to get a pic of us together. The colorful plants blooming around us are called SunPatiens, and are impatiens that can grow in either sun or part shade. They made an impressive late season display for sure. After lunch we went plant shopping at the Flower and Herb Barn next door and bought a hardy hibiscus plant. Bean Blossom is perhaps better known as the home of the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Music Festival, an event I attended in the 1970’s with a couple of friends. It was a pretty quiet place though the day we were there.
Harvest Monday is a day to show off your harvests, how you are saving your harvest, or how you are using your harvest. If you have a harvest you want to share, add your name and blog link to Mr Linky below. And be sure and check out what everyone is harvesting!
Those Captain Lucky tomatoes are really weird. We have planted a couple of sweet potatoes this year but we are not expecting success. I’m not sure our climate suits them. I have trouble with pak choy too. If they do grow either the slugs eat them or they have holes in then which I think are courtesy of flea beetles.
I for one am not tired of looking at the pretty little eggplants. And what a great sweet potato harvest! Thinking of Bean Blossom triggered a nice memory. Many years ago I saw Bill Monroe at a smaller venue in Boston, and was able to chat with him a bit backstage. What a gentleman, and a pioneer of true bluegrass music.
Wonderful harvests – I, for one, think the Captain Lucky interior is gorgeous.
So envious of your sweet potatoes! Mine didn’t even get out into the ground as the bunnies found the seedlings on the deck and gobbled them right up. Did you find any difference between the amended and non-amended beds?
I haven’t dug any from the non-amended bed. They were the ones planted later, so I want to give them another two weeks or so before I dig any.
What fabulous sweet potatoes! I can’t imagine have 35 pounds of them though, the 2 of us would never get through that amount. The Tromba vines are amazingly productive. I whacked my plants back not too long ago and they just sprang back into action. This year I’m grating some and dehydrating them. I think the dried grated squash will be good in stuffed vegetable fillings or meatballs or pilafs. Captain Lucky reminds me of a tomato I grew years ago called Ananas Noir. It was really tasty when I grew it in my previous garden but just didn’t develop the same flavor here in a cooler climate.
Great way to finish out the season, with a nice harvest of sweet potatoes. I went through Bean Blossom last summer on the way to eat at the Hobknob Corner in Nashville (Indiana). The last bluegrass festival in Bean Blossom for me was in 2000. What a great place to sit outdoors on a lawn chair and hear some of the best musicians in the world. Many of the performers I saw then are no longer with us.
I never knew there were so much varieties in sweet potatoes, I’m amazed!
When you hydrate that squash, how do you intend to use it later on?
I use the squash in soups and stews, and Michelle says she uses hers in casseroles and egg dishes which is another good idea.
Interesting about the SP fertilizer. I’m looking forward to the rest of your story/harvest. My 10 purple slips totaled 22.5 pounds, avg 2.25#/plant. That is lower than other years but I harvested about a month earlier. BTW I don’t fertilize my SPs.
I’ve been impressed by your descriptions of Midnight Snacker. Does the plant tolerate septoria? (Does your garden suffer from septoria?) My neighbor had an Indigo something and it was pretty much defoliated while many of his other varieties were still hanging on with some leaves.
I occasionally have septoria but it’s never bad enough to kill the vines. I do not know if Midnight Snack has any disease resistance or not.
Well I’m having photo upload issues, so I think I’ll have to join in tomorrow. But needless to say, the sweet potatoes are brilliant. They always remind me of Daphne (of Daphne’s Dandelions), who also had amazing sweet potatoes. Let’s hope she’s continuing her success 🙂
That’s a great picture of you and your wife, and those are some lovely tie-dyes. It really looks like your garden is still going strong. The amount of sweet potatoes you’ve harvested is impressive. I’ll be trying regular potatoes next year, I’ve yet been able to grow a single tuber of regular potatoes in these parts. I suppose it’s the heat that keeps them from producing, if only we could get them planted early enough.
You mention “hills” of sweet potato? Do you put one plant in per mound? I have been very unsuccessful growing them here..not sure anyone really does that well here tbh… but would like to have a go under cover next summer so am looking at how successful growers do it!
And those aubergines are so pretty. Well done to you for such a colourful harvest again this week!
I make a long ridge of soil about 8 to 10 inches high, so essentially the whole row is a long ‘hill.’ And then I plant the slips about 15 to 16 inches apart in the ridge of soil.
If I were planting one or two I would make individual hills of soil and plant one slip per hill. I hope that clarifies!
Thank you Dave that is really helpful. I shall just go for a couple inside as they may take up quite a lot of space. In the meanwhile we shall have to use squashes in place of sweet potato…. am going to try oven baked chips of them, so wish me luck!