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

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Tomatoes 2016 – Part 3

I feel behind on my tomato seedlings this year. I think the combination of having started later (to try and prevent my usual tomato forest) and the ridiculously nice Spring we have been having so far is what is making me feel this way. Either way, Everything will get going pretty quick, so I shouldn’t be too worried.

Either way here we are. Third round of tomatoes are being sown today. Round 1 has their first true leaves, and Round 2 is starting to put on theirs. So in a couple weeks I should have an update on all the tomatoes together.

Today (April 3) I am sowing:

  • Sub Arctic Plenty (New for me this year)
    • McKenzie Seed: “Developed in Alberta for prairie climates, this cultivar is an early, upright tomato. It will set fruit, even under cold conditions! Bountiful yields of 2-2.5 oz tomatoes. Keep well fed and watered. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.”
    • Days to Maturity: 40-59
  • Tumbler F1 Hybrid (Trailing)
    • McKenzie Seed: “Excellently suited for hanging baskets and containers, cascades of wonderfully sweet 1″ cherry tomatoes tumble down over the edge. Also a great producer in the garden, this early ripening bush variety can produce up to 4.4 lbs of fruit per plant. An exceptional and tasty tomato! Determinate. No staking required.”
    • Days to Maturity: 55
  • Tiny Tim
    • McKenzie Seed: “Extremely early scarlet red, miniature cherry tomato. Deep well-drained soil is best. Perfect for decorating salads and vegetable trays. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom”
    • Days to Maturity: 45-55
  • Manitoba
    • McKenzie Seed: “Very dependable early varity, excellent for the Prairies. Bright red, juicy fruit. Deep, well-drained soil is best. Eliminate blossom end rot problems by deep watering the plants so the root system will be less affected by fluctuations in soil moisture. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom”
    • Days to Maturity: 55-60
  • Green Envy
    • Burpee Seed: “Meaty & Tangy Fruits. Green when ripe, these sweet 1″ long cherries fruit in abundance. Indeterminate.”
    • Days to Maturity: 60

I have grown all of these last year, apart from the ‘Sub Arctic Plenty’. Last year, I’m sure my ‘Tumbler’ tomato in the hanging basket produced way more than 4.4lbs of delicious cherry tomatoes. It was also the first to fruit – I had tomatoes in June!

‘Tiny Tim’ was a sure favourite. It is a miniature tomato plant. And it was COVERED in tomatoes.

I was going to skip growing the ‘Green Envy’ this year, but they were some of the sweetest little cherry tomatoes I have ever had. When I thought about not having them this summer, I was a little sad, so I figured I could fit them in somewhere. I also only had 3 seeds left, so why keep them around. I’ll have to search for more seed, because I won’t be able to save them, as they are a hybrid.

‘Manitoba’ was great. I didn’t get a ton of fruit from it, but the pot it was in got blown over once or twice, and it mangled the poor plant a bit. The fruit I did get was delicious. We mostly ate them fresh from the vine along with fresh lettuce on burgers, and it was great.

Just for reference later in the season, I sowed these in peat pellets (as I always do):

  • 1x Green Envy
  • 2x Manitoba
  • 3x Tumbler
  • 3x Sub Arctic Plenty
  • 3x Tiny Tim

 

IMG_2619
‘Tumbler’ was the first tomato I harvested in 2015… in late June. As you can see they are a larger cherry type.

The first ‘Manitoba’ of 2015

‘Green Envy’ (2015)

‘Tiny Tim’ (2015)

First ‘Tiny Tim’ of 2015 (and my Index finger showing how tiny they are)

 

Just a quick note about determinate tomatoes. While they don’t need staking for crazy growth like indeterminate varieties, they usually do still need some support, especially once they have set fruit. It is best to stake them when you are first putting them outside because you won’t damage any roots. Then the support is already there when you need it later in the season to help support a full truss of tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes are a little easier to manage then their indeterminate friends. You don’t need to prune them to try and control their growth. Generally, they grow to a certain height, set all their fruit, and then die back (or the frost gets them first around here). So as long as you are taking care to keep them evenly watered and provide them with the other things they need to live (like adequate sunshine), you will get a harvest with hardly any work. (And while you can leave indeterminates un-pruned, it is beneficial to your final harvest in a shorter growing season to try and get the plant to use its energy on fruiting rather than on green growth)

 

Tomato Update (June 30/2015)

The tomatoes are doing astonishingly well, so here is a quick update on them all.

Side note: I just picked up an ‘Epic’ eggplant plant for 99 cents the other day, so expect to see that in the next update of tomatoes or peppers… 

  
Tumbler: Still waiting for the first fruit to ripen so I can taste! But otherwise, this plant is COVERED in flowers and fruit, and depending on how they taste, this may become a favourite. It needs a good feeding but other than that, it should perk right up.

  
Yellow Pear: Fruit is setting and more flowers are starting! Pictures will be more exciting once these start to ripen and turn yellow. 

  
Principe Bourgese (that might be spelled wrong?): these were looking sad and sorry for themselves one day, and then I was watering and found some fruit set on them! So we’ll see how they end up tasting and if I get a dehydrator to make some “sun”-dried tomatoes with them.

  
Tiny Tim: this micro plant just makes me smile every time I see it. It has tons of flowers on it, and they are tiny just like the plant. The fruit is getting larger every day and it will be interesting to see how big the tomatoes end up.

  
Green Envy: much more vigorous growth on these this year, which is strange since they are outside, and last year was in a greenhouse. Either way I can’t wait to taste these again. They were such a treat and a surprise last year that they have a lot riding on their shoulders this year.

  
Chadwick’s Cherries: these are also doing well and keeping up with their Green Envy container-mates.

  
Mortgage lifter: The first flowers are starting to fade away, so we’ll see if fruit set yet. Maybe we’ll get a 2lb tomato this year?!?

  
Black Krim: No flowers just yet, but I think they’ll be out soon.

  
Cherokee Purple: First flowers are out and they are large! About the same size as the mortgage lifter’s flowers.

  
Marglobe: Has really recovered from the frost earlier in the spring. First flowers are out on it now too. 

  
Manitoba: first flowers are on… But the plant isn’t that large. I think this may be an early harvesting plant but not a huge harvesting plant…but it’s hardiness to the frost earlier in the spring is still working in its favour for my favourites list. I am curious to see next year, if I start these a little earlier and then harden them off in the little plastic greenhouse (since they proved to be so hardy), if I could get an earlier crop of tomatoes around this time of year?? I might have to try it an see how it goes. I also want to get my hands on some ‘Sub Arctic Plenty’ seeds to try the same thing.

 

  

San Marzano: I had ALMOST given up on these after the frost hit them, but they have bounced back and are really vigorous plants now. 
Next update soon! We are having a bit of a heat wave, which is hopefully followed by a bit of rainy weather. Everything in the ground should start growing much better.

Sowing Cucumbers and Squash

I had an 18 pot seed starting tray set thing-a-ma-gig that I bought a while ago, but have yet to actually use. So I am finally using it this year. Just for ease of lableing, I started 3 pots of 6 varieties. I wanted to start more, but then I remembered that I need to have a place in the garden for them to grow, and I am not sure I will have much more room outside for these big plants.

So here are the Squash/Cucumbers/Zucchini that I am growing this year:

Climbing Baby Butternut Squash

Days to Harvest: 110

These are small personal sized little butternuts that can be trained to grow up rather than out. I wanted to start these a little earlier than now, but the main goal is to let them get a few leaves on them before they go outside. Then I don’t have to wait for them to sprout outside… This should give me about a 3 week jump on growing, and my plants should be stronger because of this head start. I hope it works, because I REALLY want to grow a butternut. Last year, the aphids got them and they never really gotta a chance to set fruit.

Cucumber ‘Modern Early’

Days to Maturity: 45

These are a pickling variety, that apparently doesn’t take up much room in the garden. I just wanted a bit of a jump on the season so I can try and get a successional sowing in about a month.

Cucumber ‘Heirloom Lemon’

No Maturity date given on seed package

These are supposed to be vigorous and abundant plants, with vines growing from 3-5 feet. Apparently they are great fresh, or as pickles. I am keeping my fingers crossed these like the place I have chosen for them because I really want to taste these.

Zucchini ‘Bush Baby F1’

Days to Maturity: 49

McKenzie seeds says: “True miniature Zucchini”. I will grow these in containers (and possibly one in the ground to compare).

Squash ‘Sunburst Hybrid’

Days to Maturity: 52

These are the yellow scallop squashes. I grew them last year, but we didn’t get any successful fruit. The hail we get REALLY likes to destroy my zucchini and squash dreams so this year, I will be trying to get some sort of permanent hail protection going for the late spring/early summer when the worst of the storms hit.

Zucchini ‘Dark Green’

Days to Maturity: 52

Have I mentioned that I love Zucchini? I just wanted to try and get an earlier harvest, and a potential successional sowing a little later in the Spring.

 

If you have any ideas on (cheap/free) how I can protect my plants from the hail when I am at work and can’t run out and cover them with sheets and blankets? Once I come up with a plan, I’ll keep you updated on my hail protection.

 

(Just for my own future reference,  I started these on May 1)