Archive for October, 2015

Garlic Planting in Open Raised Beds

Saturday, October 31st, 2015
Garlic

Garlic

Our target for planting garlic is the end of October. We hit it this year and I’m always happier when the cloves are set for their winter sprouting. Yesterday, I planted 76 saved seeds and added 38 new seeds, Lorz Italian, a softneck variety we purchased last week from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, our neighbors across the aisle at the Mother Earth News Fair in Topeka.

Open Raised Bed

Open Raised Bed

I had a bed nearly ready to go. Potatoes had been harvested from it, earlier.  It was clean and shaped.  Neither garlic nor any other onions had been planted there for a long time.

Tools for Making Ridges

Tools for Making Ridges

I used these tools to make three tall ridges in the bed. I softened the soil with my old five-tined cultivating hoe. I made deep troughs and tamped the soil with an old square hoe, which I’m guessing was originally sold as a cement hoe. And I used a steel rake to make everything smooth.

Bed Ridged for Garlic Planting

Bed Ridged for Garlic Planting

After I ridged up the bed, I planted the garlic. It likes to grow up high on the top of the ridge and I can use the rest of the bed, the slopes and the trough bottoms, to plant lettuces and other greens in the spring.

Garlic Seed Covered with Straw

Garlic Seed Covered with Straw

The garlic was planted along the ridges, six inches apart. I put the softneck seed in the middle row. After the cloves were planted I covered the bed using two small straw bales, fluffed up to be as loose as possible.

We can report excellent results with this method. Every year we supply ourselves with a lot of garlic. The softneck variety are supposed to be better keepers than the hardnecks which we’ve grown for many years, so we’ll see if we can develop a good Wisconsin strain from our southern bred seed.

2015 Sweet Potato Harvest

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
Over Four Pounds

Over Four Pounds

As the garden season winds down, we’re happy to report that we’ve had another great sweet potato harvest.  I like to remind people that it’s easy to grow sweet potatoes even up north, here in Wisconsin.

Sweet Potato Bed

Sweet Potato Bed

Here are the potato vines, about two weeks ago.

Frost and Beetle Damage

Frost and Beetle Damage

We already had a light frost  and the leaves were pretty moth eaten from Japanese beetles.  I decided not to wait longer to get them out of the ground.

Vines Ready to Prune

Vines Ready to Prune

I stacked all the vines up in the center of the bed so I could easily prune them off using pruning lopers.

A Pile of Vines

A Pile of Vines

Here’s the bed with all the vines trimmed off.

Harvested Plants

Harvested Plants

Of the seventeen plants, most were quite robust, but three or four were on the puny side.

A Good Sized Plant

A Good Sized Plant

This one plant weighed over seven pounds.

Drying on the Kitchen Table

Drying on the Kitchen Table

Sweet potatoes need to be cured or allowed to dry out at a relatively warm temperature before being put into storage.  Here’s most of the harvest curing on the kitchen table.

Wrapped and Stored

Wrapped and Stored

After a two week curing, we wrap the larger potatoes in newspaper and store them in our heated basement.  They’ll keep a year in storage and maybe even a little longer.  Left too long, they’ll start to sprout, which is okay, because the sprouts are a good source for sweet potato starts to plant again next season.

We grow a variety named Jewel or Jewell.  It has consistently delivered good yields.  It produces a lot of nice fat potatoes with very few stringy unusable roots.  We harvested about 74 pounds of sweet potatoes.  Not our biggest ever harvest from a single bed, but still pretty good.