Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sweet Potato Harvest

Sweet potato vines right before harvest.  We grow our sweet potatoes under wire so the deer and rabbits cannot eat the vines.  I mow the vines to keep the aisles around the sweet potato bed open.  Otherwise, they'd probably cover half the garden.

We've grown an unknown variety of sweet potatoes for many years.  A friend gave us the sets.  We planted them.  They produced well.  We saved some potatoes for the following year's sets.  This system worked well for several years.  However, in recent years, production fell dramatically so we decided to try a different variety.  We chose the Beauregard developed by Louisiana State University

Beauregard sweet potatoes produced a lot of above ground growth.  I don't know if that is typical for this variety or the result of our growing conditions.

We normally let our sweet potatoes grow for as long as possible in the fall.  We wait until a frost is forecast before digging the potatoes.  Once the tender vines are killed by frost, you must dig the potatoes or they will rot.  However, first frost is late this year.  It still hasn't happened.  Jo and I decided to go ahead and dig our potatoes.  We figured they already grown as much as they were going to grow.  Additional time in the ground would probably only increase mice and vole damage.

A typical bunch of freshly dug sweet potatoes.

Beauregard produced well for us.  We harvested 163 pounds of sweet potatoes from a forty foot bed.  That's over 100 pounds more sweet potatoes than we harvested from the same amount of space last year.  Summer 2010 was hot and dry here.  I attribute the increased production to the Beauregard variety.

One of the more distinctive misshapen sweet potatoes

Beauregard produced many strangely shaped potatoes and seemed prone to more above ground growth that is normal for sweet potatoes.  I don't know if these traits are characteristic for the variety or the result of our growing conditions. We also had quite a bit of mice and vole damage, but that's not the potatoes' fault.  We've yet to come up with an organic solution for the mice and voles that eat our root crops.

Total harvest.  163 pounds of sweet potatoes.

So how do the Beauregard sweet potatoes taste?  We don't know yet.  Sweet potatoes must cure for a month or so before they're ready for eating.  They need time to convert starches into sugar. 


Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Cut logs waiting to be loaded and trucked to a chipper or pulp mill.

My neighbor has a major logging project going on in the woods between our place and his.  Jo and I can't yet figure out the full extent of the logging he has in mind, but it looks as if it might be extensive.  In the past, he's had the same section of woods selectively logged.  Only trees suitable for cutting into lumber were harvested.  This time, everything is being cut.  The logs will go to a pulp or wood chip mill since they're too small for saw logs.

Claw-jawed log loader on trailer.

The loggers began work on Monday.  So far, all they've done is clear a swath straight down the hill.  We have no idea of the purpose.

Log Skidder

This section of woods was heavily damaged during the severe ice storm of January, 2009.  None of the timber is suitable for anything except pulp or wood chips.  Our neighbor has talked about clearing this wooded area and turning it into another pasture for his cows since it's now "worthless".  We fear this logging may be the start of that clearing. Since the land belongs to him, all we can do is lament the loss.

Swath of timber cut straight down the hillside.