We cleared out the last of the crops from the Plant-a-Row-for-the-Hungry garden today. There were still winter squash and sweet potatoes. Pulling up the squash vines was a big job, but we found more than 40 pounds of good squash in the vines, and we have been getting 20 or so pounds of squash each week for a while now. That was a successful crop!
The big job of the day, though, was digging up the sweet potatoes. (Alert: lots of photos ahead.)
Even though we already had done a lot of work cleaning up the squash vines, we were pretty excited about the sweet potatoes. Here we are, just getting started:
How clean we all still were! We found potatoes of all shapes and sizes, and every single one was a joy to find.
There were quite a few “lunkers” under those vines.
And this plant came up like a string of sausages, which made us all chuckle.
Part of the fun is that digging sweet potatoes requires partners. The person digging benefits from having a “spotter” to help make sure that no sweet goes unharvested.
We did all slow down a bit, after a while. The digging was hard work! It was great that so many gardeners showed up to help.
After watching several of us make trips to the compost pile with armloads of vines, Gloria very wisely went to get a wheelbarrow from the shed. At first, moving the vines to the (Very Large) compost pile hadn’t seemed like all that big of a job, but the vines were heavy. The wheelbarrow helped.
We completed the first pass through the area where the sweet potatoes had been planted, pulling vines and digging, and then we re-dug the entire bed to locate strays. We found some, but not too many. It was a good idea to have done the extra work though. Look how many sweets we found after we were finally done!:
After the digging, we sat down to sort. The good sweets were destined for the Center for Family Resources in Marietta, but we always have a pretty big pile of damaged sweets. The garden has a wireworm problem that we have been treating with beneficial (predatory!) nematodes for a couple of years now, and that has been making a difference. We saw the least wireworm damage this year of any year so far.
In addition to the wireworm damage, there are always some sweets that are accidentally skewered by spading forks, and there is always some damage from small mammals. In the end, though, we had more than 260 pounds of good sweets to take to Marietta. They filled the back of our fearless leader’s car.
The squash had to go in the back seat, along with her garden tools. It is amazing that any gardener’s car is ever clean, but this car was spotless before the spading forks went in.
Besides the squash and sweet potatoes, the garden still had flowers in it, and those had to be cleared out, too. Cathy took a minute to make bouquets from the zinnias and the sprays of purple seeds from the Jewels of Opar, so most of us had flowers to bring home.
The next-to-last job for the morning was to spread kelp meal and some more sulfur (the pH is still a little high…) over the entire garden. The very last job was to finish marking the sprinkler heads for the new irrigation system. A couple of gardeners had been busy locating those and driving stakes next to them so they would be easy to spot, but there there were a few left to mark.
Tomorrow, the garden will be tilled, and next week, we will broadcast seeds for our cover crop. Then, sometime in the next few weeks, we will celebrate!