Sweet Potato Experiment Update (2017)


Before I get started, here is the link back to the first post on the Sweet Potatoes. I did try this a few years ago, and I never got to the part of putting them outside. I did have some really beautiful flowers in my kitchen window though. If you didn’t know, Sweet Potatoes are related to Morning Glories and are not part of the Nightshade family like regular potatoes. So in all actuality, I may only be able to produce pretty little flowers and tiny little tubers not worth all this effort. That is the beauty of an experiment. These are FAR outside my zone, but I am banking on the heat of my patio to hopefully get a little harvest. I don’t have aspirations of becoming a sweet potato farmer, this is just a fun little thing to try out.


I left the last post at “wait for sprouts to arrive”…

Well boy did they ever. Within a week, I had some sprouts that were almost 6 inches tall. Keep in mind that these are vines, so they will grow fast.


Once these sprouts get a decent size, gently snap them off. This takes a little bit of the tuber away with it. (Just be gentle and don’t be alarmed. It is just a sweet potato and we are just experimenting. The fun is in the learning and its ok to screw up.)  Leave the smaller sprouts on the tuber to develop some more.


Take the sprouts you removed, and snip off their lower leaves with scissors or a pinch of your nails. Put these in a separate jar. Soon we will see some little roots sprouting off the stem.


Now the trick will be to keep them growing slowly until we can get them into their final home. I’ll update again at the next steps. Or if anything exciting happens.

A few points to remember:

  • Keep the jars topped up with water. As the sprouts start growing more vigorously, the water will go down faster. Just keep an eye on it and don’t let it dry out. I have to top the tuber jar up every couple days now because of the amount of sprouts/roots happening. As the slips start producing more roots, that jar will need water added more frequently as well.
  • If you notice the water is getting smelly, growing algae, or turning a weird colour, dump it out and add some fresh water.
  • I don’t know if I clarified to put these in a sunny window or not. If I didn’t then I am now… Keep both jars in a sunny window. Plants need light. 😉
Tuber roots before I topped it up with clean water

1 Year In – Update on my Cactus Experiment

I am still trying to hide my seed stash from myself for fear of starting a million things far too early. I’m still in the mindset of keeping things simple this year, and starting seeds in January is not in tune with that. How long I’ll be able to actually hold out is anyone’s guess.

So I thought I would update you on the cacti that I started from seed last year in January. There was an incident. The cats knocked the whole thing over, so there are a few less survivors than there would be otherwise… I currently have 4 survivors. 2 are in peat pellets, and 2 in the original 3″ pot I sowed them all in. The two in peat pellets were the only ones left with any rootball still attached when they fell to the floor. I didn’t want to disturb the ones in the pot that stayed in the soil any more than they already were, so I used some peat pellets that had un-germinated seeds in them, and here we are.

ooo look how in-focus the soil is! Sorry the actual cactus isn’t the focus 😦

The two in the original pot are my favorite. They are doing much better than the little peat pellets ones… understandably. I’ve always wanted one of those cacti that are really pokey, but I always talk myself out of buying them when I see them in shops. So to grow one from seed… needless to say, I’m pretty excited about it. Now I just need to not have it thrown on the ground in a fit of feline angst.

I will pot them into a proper pot once I get sowing seeds later this spring… I may even splurge on some fancy cactus soil for them. My aloe needs some attention as well so It may be worth my while to give it some soil more catered to their special succulent needs. (somehow “succulent needs” just sounds wrong doesn’t it? That’s why I had to leave it in)

If you are interested, This is the link to the original sowing of the seeds post from January 17, 2016. And this is the link to the update a few weeks later once everything started germinating. I haven’t really updated you on them since then.

sorry for the blur
Again…Sorry for the blur… But look how Pokey it is!! 🙂

April 2016 Update

Here is a basic time line of what has been happening in April… Sorry it’s so late this time. Also, I’ve been fighting with my iPhone storage and I just end up not taking any pictures rather than deleting some older ones. I will try and make the May update better and on time!

  • April 1: I potted up the Ground Cherries, Big Dipper Green Peppers, Seranno Peppers, Cayenne Peppers and the Hollyhocks, all into Party Cups.
  • April 2: Sowed the 3rd and final round of Tomatoes into the peat pellets.
  • April 8: I planted the Jerusalum Artichokes!
  • April 9: Potted up the Herbs, Carnations and Columbines
  • April 10: Potted up the 1st round of Tomatoes. (One of the Beefsteak’s that I sowed never developed it’s True leaves. I left it for a few days to see if anything would come of it, but there was nothing. So only one Beefsteak plant will be in the garden this year.
  • April 11: I potted up the Sweet Williams and some of the Corbaea into party cups. And I started some small hex cells (same things I started the herbs and flowers in).
    • 2x White Russian Kale
    • 2x Rainbow Kale
    • 2x Dinosaur Kale
    • 3x Marvel of 4 Seasons Lettuce
    • 3x Romaine
    • 3x Salad Bowl Lettuce (even thought it said to direct sow, I am a rebel!)
  • April 12: I sowed in peat pellets:
    • 4x ‘Salad Delight’ Cabbage
  • April 13: Pruned most of the peppers so they develop some strong side shoots. I did it last year on the hot peppers and they produced amazingly. It is a bit scary to do it when your plants are growing so well, but in the end it should work out even better.
  • April 14: Potted up round 2 of the Tomatoes.
  • April 15: I sowed:
    • 4x ‘Early Snowball’ Cauliflower in peat pellets
    • 4x ‘Munchkin’ Broccoli in peat pellets
    • 4x ‘Green Sprouting’ Broccoli in peat pellets
    • 2x ‘Baby Honeynut’ Climbing Butternut Squash in Party Cups
    • 10x small jiffy peat pots of ‘Blauwschokkers Blue Podded‘ Pea (I am super excited about these!)
    • 4x small jiffy peat pots of ‘Sugar Baby’ Watermelon. I thought it was worth a shot trying to grow these. Its looking like we will be having a hot summer, so these should do well.
  • April 16: I sowed planted some potatoes in the ground at my parent’s house. I harvested a bunch of Rhubarb there also. Once back home, I sowed:
    • 9x Calendula ‘Pacific Beauty Mix’ in the Hex Cells (same thing the herbs were sown into)
  • April 17: Potted up the rest of the Corbaea into Party Cups.
    • And I kicked a bunch of the plants outside into double protection in the little greenhouse thing I have. Most of the flowers I sowed earlier in the year, and the older and hardier herbs are out there now. It has been so beautiful out that they don’t necessarially need the double protection, but better safe that its there, than sorry that I forgot they needed more protection from a 40 degree change in temperature.
    • AND I planted some potatoes into 2 Potato Bags. In one I put 2 larger yellow russet type potatoes, and in the other was 2 smaller blue potatoes, and 2 small red skinned potatoes. (I have ‘Purple Caribe’ Seed Potatoes that will be going into my brand new Community Garden plot along with some onions and maybe other low
  • April 18: I sowed some ‘Small Sugar’ Pumpkins (2 party cups of them); thinned out the lettuces and Brassicas.
  • April 19: I gave the potted up tomatoes a little feed with some super diluted Miracle Grow, and made sure everything in windows was rotated to help build stronger plants. (I usually do this every other day)
  • April 20: I got a lot of digging done outside, and will be ready to put some things outside as soon as they are ready. I also started off 24 onion sets. This should give them a little head start before they go out into the ground. Birds and other wild life will be less likely to try and pluck them out of the ground because they will already be plants, and not just look like worms or a free meal.  I also thought I would hedge my squash bets and sowed 2 small jiffy pots of just regular ‘Butternut’ Squash. I should get some kind of squash action this year (hopefully). AND I sowed a few more flowers (in peat pellets):
    • 4x Night Scented Stock
    • 4x ‘Russel Mix’ Lupin
    • 4x Lupin seeds from my Grandma. They have “Coral” written on the jar, so they are probably that colour
    • 6x Moon flower (peat pellet may have been a bad choice for this large seed, but I’ve had bad germination on these in the past, so this is the easiest way for me to see if they will grow.
    • 6x ‘Heavenly Blue’ Morning Glory
  • April 21: I bought a few little bedding plants to give the bees that are out already something to tide them over until the apple tree and my perennials start showing off their flowers. Plus some Spring color is always a nice thing. If they get taken out by spring frost, I’ll just replace them later. I also bit the bullet and planted the ‘Flame’ Grape out into its new home, and the little Clematis plants I’ve been nurturing inside the house. The 3 hollyhocks also went out into the sunny bed with the Clematis and Grape. My Corbaea will also go out here once it is warmer out. I have the sheets and blankets at the ready for these (especially the Grape), for any nights that go really chilly.
  • April 22: I moved the volunteer Broad Beans to their new home.
  • April 23: I sowed things outside!!! A row of ‘French Breakfast’ Radish, a row of ‘Black Spanish’ Radish, and a row of ‘Long Standing Bloomsdale’ Spinach! Outside! in the rain! Also, the SugarBaby Pumpkins didn’t germinate, so I potted up the two regular Butternuts into the party cups that the pumpkins were in. No pumpkins again this year, but maybe there is hope for Butternuts!
  • April 24: My birthday, My pony’s birthday, and the start of our 20th year together! I also sowed newspaper pots of Cucumbers. 8x Morden Early and 5x Lemon Cucumbers. They germinated in 2 days!!! I also started 2 newspaper pots of ‘Sweet & Early’ Cantaloupe.
  • April 25: I sowed a second round of lettuces, Romaine, Marvel of 4 Seasons and Grand Rapids.
  • April 30: I potted up the last round of Tomatoes!

 

Somewhere along the way my singular Stevia seedling died. Luckily I found two bedding pants of Stevia at Home Depot, so the dream of my own homemade sweetener is still alive! I may have missed a few tiny things along the way, and again, sorry for the lack of photos.

 

If you are interested, here are the posts from this last month: First Outdoor Sowing, Distance Gardening, Volunteer Broad Beans, Leaf Mold Update, My First Harvest of 2016, Pepper Update, Herb Update, Jerusalem Artichokes, Venus Fly Trap and Round 3 of Tomato Sowing.

Previous Updates this year: January, February, March

New Year, New Growth! (Onion Edition)

So, this is the year I try and grow an onion from seed…  
I started these “Northern Gold” onion seeds on December 27th… And we already have sprouting! 

  
I’ll probably try and move these to individual pots once they are stronger. I may also start a few in their own little pots incase the moving of these doesn’t go so well. Fingers crossed this experiment is as successful as the birdhouse gourds 2 years ago!

I know it is early in the season, but since onions grow based on length of day, I am attempting to give these as much time as possible to grow healthy before they start bulbing up. It also should help me stop myself from starting my tomatoes too early again and ending up with a tomato forest in my kitchen!

Also! Aren’t alliums so cute at this little shepards crook stage?!? I find them adorable little seedlings!

What I learned in 2015 (Gardening)

IMG_2780

I have taken away so many things from my first real year of trying to grow enough vegetables  to have more than just a nibble in our yard. In 2014 and 2013 I grew everything away from home, which meant that I left it all until it was ready, and I had my best friend to garden with, so It was more of a divide and conquer and have fun chucking seeds in the ground and seeing what we get. So in 2015, with my first JUST MINE garden, here is what I have discovered

  • It is easy to get lazy when Pinterest/YouTube/Netflix/My nice cozy bed are just steps away. By the middle of summer, I was a little gardened out, and still had a lot of time left to wait for anything harvest-able.
  • Where the shade actually is. Areas that I had thought were really sunny, actually got more shade than I thought. And vise-versa.
    • This is something I never would have noticed if I hadn’t grown things in 2 different spots in the yard!
  • It is easy to have grandiose plans in the dead of winter with pinterest and YouTube showing you all these beautiful things, Its an other to make yourself get out and grow them and be realistic about where you live and climate you are in. Especially with work and home stress creeping in, and the 18 other projects you started.
  • Ironically, the amount of tomatoes I grew, was just right! I learned a few things in their placement, but It was nice and refreshing to have a bunch of different kinds of tomatoes. In a few years time If I ever have my own real greenhouse I will scale up my tomato growing again because they really are so much fun to watch grow and take over everything.
  • I wont waste my time with dry-beans or Broad Beans this year. But I will use their space on more Green Beans. I also will just stick with climbing beans to save space. The slug population really liked my bush beans and got to most of them before I could.
  • I will stagger my Peas better in 2016. It was hard to keep up with them before they got too mature. We definitely prefer baby snow-peas, and the sugar snaps. So I will probably just stick to that kind… And the Alaska peas, because they grow so well in the cold here.
  • As much as I want I huge carrot harvest, It doesn’t seem like a possibility here. I have tried every year to grow carrots in my yard, and every year they are sad and tiny and pitiful. So I may just throw in the towel and just grow a few tiny patches of them and use the space for something that I know grows well here… If I can find the seed from a local garden centre again I will get those little round Paris Market carrots and grow them in a container. They are awesome and so much fun.

 

IMG_2782

 

So In 2016, I have plans to:

  • Have things that harvest quickly, and give a good push to keep going.
    • I won’t skip growing Potatoes, they are so easy and so satisfying to grow, and we definitely missed them this year.
  • I will be more realistic about what we will actually eat.
    • I love beets, but I don’t need 6 rows of them!
    • I will grow more lettuce and stagger plantings better, because I now know that I can grow heads of lettuce!
  • More Zucchini! and Cucumbers!
  • I’m going to scale back a bit and not over-challenge myself. When I go too hard into gardening, all my other projects start to fall by the wayside, and I get into an extreme rocking between the two. So I will be more realistic about my life and time management in 2016.
  • Tomato-wise in 2016, I want to legit-start saving my own seed. I have dabbled here and there, but I would like to actually perpetuate my own stash of heirloom seeds.
  • I still want to give Brussels Sprouts a go again… They grew tiny little sprouts, but nothing worth writing home about. I just need to put them somewhere sunnier I think. I plunked them in the shadiest spots, and they were pretty late going in the ground.
  • My herbs will be a go again, But I am going to be realistic and just buy them. I think I have their ideal location nailed down here, and I have a better way of drying them quickly now. I’m slowly learning what works for me. Also, cooking with your own home-grown herbs is so much more delicious, I don’t really want store bought again.
  • I want to grow more flowers this year. They definitely give a push to go out into the garden. They are pretty, and Its fun to watch the bees and butterflies enjoying them. Also, once I’m out there smelling the flowers, I usually get to work on the vegetables, so it’s a win-win.
  • I will be skipping Cauliflower in 2016. I grew 2 heads of it, but we weren’t ready to eat it, and then it went to flower so I missed out. So I’ll save it for a year when I have more time to keep up with time-sensitive stuff like that. I will have another go with the Broccoli though! They were fantastic.
  • I want to grow a few things with  the full intention of pickling them. I haven’t done much pickling, and I think that I will make that my kitchen-garden goal of 2016.
  • My major seed-to-mature-vegetable project this year is going to be Onions. I will be starting them from seed today! (Maybe some more strawberries too)

IMG_2440

IMG_1713

IMG_2175

IMG_2403

IMG_2785

IMG_2784

IMG_2619

Here is to a wonderful 2016 for everyone and their gardens!