Harvest


This story had it’s genesis last fall and is not about politics.  This is about potatoes.

Sometime last fall, Mrs. Chief thought it might be a good idea to grow some sweet potatoes.  We found all we could about the culture of sweet potatoes and sent of to a seed company for the minimum number of starts, which was 25, that they sold.

On the first of May, or there abouts, we received a small package with the 25 small sweet potato starts.  The literature says that you make an elevated row of dirt and plant the starts at the top of the row.  Well, we did not have enough dirt, so we made about ten mounds of dirt, shaped not unlike a Native American tipi.

And we watered them and they looked droopy and we watered them more.

And we planted some ‘fingerling’ potatoes and some purple potatoes and some regular old white potatoes.

The regular old white potatoes grow vertical and over the summer one must periodically hill up or add more dirt around the base of the plant.  We were used to that.

Not so with sweet potatoes.  They grow as vines.  And the vines put out roots every so often.  And we soon realized that the sweet potato vines were smothering the new rhubarb (all traces of which have disappeared), green beans and white potatoes and were not friendly to the tomatoes.

In other words, our garden was too small to accommodate our run away vines.

All the info we could find said the wait until after a killing frost before harvesting the crop. We are a month away from a killing frost but this past weekend Mrs. Chief decided that it was time to harvest the sweet potatoes.  First we tried to find a mound that we had planted in and dig around the mound. Far too many of the larger sweet potatoes had a longitudinal splitting where it appeared the potato out grew it’s skin. And all the sweet potatoes were concentrated in the mound.  And they were, by and large, huge.  The biggest potato we kept, no-splits, was 3.25 pounds and shaped like a football.  We discarded heavier ones that we did not weigh.

After the first or second mound, I decided to pull up all the vines.  That made the task at hand somewhat easier.

We began with just Mrs. Chief, our oldest daughter and me.  We soon invited our son and his three children to help.

We have well over 40 pounds of sweet potatoes, quite a few ounds of white potatoes and some fingerling potatoes.  We will not grow the fingerlings again as we fell the skins are too tough.

If we ever grow sweet potatoes again, we are now aware that we need to allocate a lot more room for a mere 25 plants.

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