Archive | September 2012

Celebrating Our Sweet Potato Harvest

                                                                                

I am celebrating the harvest of our first sweet potato crop.  I tried to grow them last year, but either the rabbits or the ground hogs or both mowed them down shortly after I’d planted them. Thanks to my husband for a fortified fence, this year we have sweet potatoes!

Since I’ve never grown sweet potatoes before, I’m new to the curing and storage process.  I did some checking on the Internet and found an excellent article about it at the Learn2Grow website

http://www.learn2grow.com/projects/edibles/preservationstorage/SweetPotatoesCuringStorage.aspx.

As you can see in the pictures, I’ve put our sweet potatoes into crates and have them sitting in the sun during the day and sleeping in the garage at night for a couple of weeks.  After this curing period, I’ll keep them in our garage.  I would put them in the barn, but I want to keep the mice away from them.

                                                                           

Very soon, we’ll be enjoying sweet potato pie!

Advertisements

Lotus Plants or Water Lilies?

I took a picture last July of what I thought were a dense patch of water lilies on our pond.  But upon further investigation, I discovered that they were lotus plants which are different from water lilies.  One distinction between the two is that the flower of the water lily is usually floating on the water.  Below is a closer look at the plant.

While the leaves of the lotus float on the water, the flowers and seed pods are on tall stems.  The seed pods look like shower heads and are separate from the flower.  The pollen from the flower pollinates the seed pods. The holes in the “shower head” pod contain dark brown seeds that are round like pebbles.

The exotic look of the dried seed pods make them popular in flower arrangements.  I used them this weekend with zinnias for a centerpiece.  I have some more that I’ve placed in my house plants to spice up their look.  Below is a picture of my zinnia arrangement.  It’s looking a little ragged after a fun weekend.

Invasion of the Worms

Poor tomatoes!  Just when they thought they’d seen it all, a new scourge arrives.  This time it’s the tobacco hornworm.  It’s a big, fat, ugly, green worm with a voracious appetite.  It strips a tomato plant of its leaves and will eat unripened fruit, too.  The tobacco hornworm looks almost identical to the tomato hornworm except for a few subtleties in their markings and the color of their horn.  The tobacco worm’s horn is red and the tomato worm’s horn is black.  They both love tomato plants, but can be found on potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. They mature into big brown moths.

Although the worms are large, their green bodies and markings are excellent camouflage and they can be very difficult spot even when you are looking right at them.  They dislike sunlight, so they are best spotted early in the morning or late in the evening and often on the underside of a stem.  The best way to get rid of them is to pull them off and step on them or drop them into soapy water.  They have a very squishy feel to them.  They sort of “creep me out” to touch them, but if they are not removed quickly, the plant will be totally stripped within a couple of days.

Sevin (pesticide) is supposed to help prevent them.  Planting marigolds around tomatoes is also supposed to prevent them and is a method that I plan to try next year.

Another unwelcome visitor who has arrived to eat tomatoes is the grasshopper.  What the hornworm isn’t eating, the grasshoppers are. Poor tomatoes!