Garden

Tidying Up the Garden & Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

Hello my friends! Even though it’s fall, I’m not done gardening. There are vines to be composted, hoses to be put away, and pots to be cleaned and stored. I just harvested my sweet potatoes. Come along as I show you what I’ve been working on (and don’t forget to check out the recipe links at the end!).

Tidying the Garden

There are some key things to be done before you cozy up for the winter with your seed catalogs. Some of these are absolutely necessary; others could wait, but why not get them done now so you can jump right in come springtime?

Here is a (nonexhaustive) list of things to do before winter:

  • Harvest any lingering plants or produce
  • Pull out old plants and vines to compost
  • Clean out pots and store inside (terra cotta and ceramic pots could crack in freezing temperatures): Mix 1:1 parts vinegar and water, submerge pot for three-four hours, then scrub clean and rinse.
  • Take up irrigation lines and hoses, drain, and store inside. They last longer if they do not freeze.
  • If you have a water spigot, cut the water inside and drain out the line that leads outside. Otherwise, it could freeze and start leaking.
  • If you have a fall/winter garden, thin seedlings and cover the crops with clear plastic to prevent them from freezing

Covering the Crops

My little seedlings that I planted in the fall are doing nicely. I’ve been leaving them uncovered to receive rainwater and sunlight during this mild fall, but now I covered them to prepare for the first hard frost. I weighed down the sides of the plastic with rocks to keep them secure in the high winds.

Harvesting the Sweet Potatoes

Then came the most rewarding activity: harvesting my sweet potatoes! We love sweet potatoes, and I have a food blog (akukskitchen.com) with tons of recipes for these tasty tubers, so I was excited to get a good harvest.

You can see in the photo below that the vine growth was, shall we say, vigorous. It took over my borage and mint, unfortunately. Next year I plan to plant the sweet potatoes in the ground along our fence so that the vines can climb the fence. It will look much prettier than the scraggly English ivy that’s currently threatening to take over.

I started by trying to pull the vines out, but that was difficult and I kept tripping myself over the trailing vines on the ground. Eventually I snipped them off with scissors, then used a garden fork to loosen the soil and start digging.

It was fun to root around in the soil and discover the sweet potatoes. Some were large and fat, others were a bit scrawny, and still others didn’t get wider than my pinky finger (I didn’t store those).

To avoid damaging the potatoes as you dig, insert the pitch fork along the side of the bed and hoist up toward the middle. This way you won’t accidentally stab and sweet potatoes.

All in all, I’d say I got a pretty good harvest for dedicating one 8’x2′ raised bed to growing sweet potatoes. Any more than these, and I wouldn’t be able to get through them before they went bad. Eventually, I hope to frame out a cold room in my basement to store root vegetables, but until then, I will stick to just one bed of sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Recipes

Check out the Video

Here I am tidying up the garden and harvesting sweet potatoes. Thanks for reading/watching, and I’ll see you next time!

Rebekah