Saturday, October 17, 2015

First Frost

I wasn't sure if last night would bring a frost.  It was just below freezing when I got up this morning, cold enough to fire up the wood stove for the first time this season.  I went outside to get the rabbits some sweet potato shoots for their morning feed and the signs of frost were evident on the plants.  With a harder freeze on the way tonight it was time to dig them up.  Sweet potatoes are in the background, winter squash plants in the foreground.

I planted Vardamans this year, 11 slips in all  The first plant that was dug up showed a lot of promise.

The sweet potatoes mostly filled a 5 gallon bucket.  All the usable tubers came from the primary plants.  In a good year the plant's vines can send down roots that produce more sweet potatoes, but with the cloudy early summer weather most of these never developed to a usable size. 

I collected the smallish tubers in another bucket, then turned over the entire patch with a shovel to prepare the area for a cover crop.  Spading over the soil turned up a number of small satellite tubers.  In the left of the picture is a very large tuber with extensive vole damage.  Some of it is salvageable.  At the edge of the sweet potato patch the spading turned up a Kennebec potato that was missed when the potatoes were harvested.  It's been sliced into by the shovel but looks perfectly good.   Can you spot it in the picture?

The too-small and deformed tubers will be fed to the rabbits.  That left just over 20 pounds of sweet potatoes for cooking.  Considering the unfavorable weather that's not bad. 

The Fuji apple tree produced three apples this year, its first apples.  The Golden Delicious tree has not produced any apples yet.  The apples are covered with green blotches that look like some sort of algae. 

This apple dropped so I peeled off the skin and sampled it.  Despite its appearance it actually tasted like a Fuji should taste, a little underripe but actually quite good.  I'm hoping that next year both trees will give me a decent crop of apples. 

The last outdoor project for the season is finished.  From the large bed the ground has too much slope toward the pond, hard to walk on when wet and hard to mow.  Two courses of concrete wall blocks make a terrace that greatly improves the area.  The new terrace will also make it easier to spray the Fuji tree, as it was challenging to use a ladder around this tree.  I think, and hope, that this is the last of the terracing that I do on this property.


Margaret said...

What a great crop of sweet potatoes! Mine didn't do anywhere near as well - they would likely have all been fed to your rabbits had you harvested them!

Unknown said...

Nice sweet potato harvest! Congratulations on your first apples too. From the picture, it looks like sooty blotch. It is a pretty common fungus. We have it each year on our apples. Some years are worse than others. It comes off with some scrubbing or you can peel the apples. I bet it tasted wonderful.

Mark Willis said...

I have been reading a lot about Sweet Potatoes recently, and I have concluded that they are not for me. My little experiment with them this year proved the point. I think I will stick to the traditional potatoes. Our climate is not conducive to the growing of a plant that needs such a lot of warmth to do well!

Eight Gate Farm NH said...

My green apples get that discoloration too. Thanks to Rachel for finally identifying it for me. Nice job on the sweet potatoes.

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