Saturday, December 03, 2022

Redneck Raised Bed: Post-Game Edition

 As some readers may recall from earlier this year, one experiment I tried was taking the area that I keep the used rabbit litter in and essentially setting it up as a planting bed as it was already container - The "Redneck Raised Bed":

It seemed like a logical use:  good soil substitute, shaded, easy to water with a little ingenuity.  I planted sweet potatoes - and they grew, luxuriously all Summer and into the Autumn.

Yesterday - as the cold is finally here - I finally went to dig them up:


The final verdict:  Nothing.  Not a single sweet potato.  Perhaps one or two small fingerlings that could be used as seed potatoes for next year.

I believe the technical gardening term for this is "bupkis".  

I am more than a little disappointed - not that anything did not grow as that has happened many times, but that what seemed - and looked - like a logical plan yielded precisely nothing.

That said, taking my wounded pride in hand, I did learn a couple of things:

1)  Things would in fact grow there (I had a lot of vegetative growth);
2)  I could keep things sufficiently wet to grow things.

So maybe the failure is not total - not sweet potatoes, but something else.

Still, I hate it when a plan does not work out as I had imagined.


17 comments:

  1. After filing the serial numbers off of Edison's quote about light bulb filaments, I can say that you now know what doesn't work for growing sweet potatoes.
    If I think for a while about all the things I've learned negatively, while not woefully longs, a large percentage of those things were both expensive, or painful, or both.

    Mother nature will provide another chance next year.

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    1. John, I am a master of failing at things - and accidentally finding things that work.

      Better I mess up now, before I need things to actually grow.

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  2. Definitely by no means am I an expert but when my wife grows sweet potatoes, she keeps pinching off the runners to keep them short. She says that focuses their energy into producing tubers. I've also heard that sweet potatoes won't produce large tubers in soil with high nitrogen content, i.e. manure. So it might be that too.

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    1. Thanks Ed. I definitely had have much less potential nitrogen in the regular spot, so that may have been a factor. I had not heard about the runners, but will try it next year.

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    2. Good tip, Ed. I'm constantly snipping off vines to feed to my goats. I do get a lot of large tubers, but I never made the connection!

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  3. Wish I had some advice but I have never had an issue growing sweet potatoes. I put in slips and potatoes the size of cow embryos come out. They seem to like my garden so I actually know nothing about growing them. Regular potatoes on the other hand I seem to be a master at killing mine and I still don't know what I do. My garden area seems to eat them itself.

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    1. PP, I have never had great success with potatoes in New Home - but for the last two years, sweet potatoes in my regular garden did just fine (and I had volunteers that gave me more). Back to the main spot for next year then.

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  4. I couldn't grow bupkis either this year. I had a zucchini grow about two feet long and stall out for 2 months. It stayed green but refused to produce. Everything else for a while grew then died. Even in known good areas... Weird year.

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    1. It was, STxAR. The frustrating thing to me was that water, the thing that usually curses me, was in place. I spent a bit of money for basically nothing but my vanity. That torques me a bit.

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  5. I love experiments and have to agree it's extremely disappointing when one doesn't work as hoped. I'm wondering if perhaps the bed was too nitrogen rich so that the plant put it all into leaves.

    One good thing I've learned about sweet potatoes is that the leaves and vines are edible. They're supposed to make a delicious cooked green. I know the goats love them, as do whatever garden varmints prune them for me without permission.

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    1. YA my goats and sheep will fight me for the leaves and vines.

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    2. It could have been Leigh. I am wondering how other plants might do there.

      I not heard of using them as cooked greens - but we have had our local inhabitants nibble as well.

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    3. We created two raised beds awhile back and I dumped in loads of composted manure in them. The first crop of strawberries that we planted were a failure. We planted some carrots this year and they did quite well. I have suspected that it was perhaps too nitrogen rich for the strawberries. Last year we replanted them elsewhere and they did excellent.

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  6. Nylon126:21 AM

    Sorry to hear that TB but growing things in Mother Earth is a gamble sometimes. Going to let my small garden sit next year, borrow the neighbor's cultivator, throw in a couple of items (have to research some more) and expand it a bit. Not a fan of sweet potatoes just potatoes and they didn't do good this past growing season. Cherry tomatoes went hog wild though.

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    1. It is always a gamble Nylon12. And there are other aspects I think I need to fix as well. It is sure not for a lack of trying new things, though.

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  7. I was most successful growing sweet potatoes when I planted slips and then hilled up soil a couple of times as they grew, then kept the vines pruned back to about 3-4 feet long similar to how Ed suggested above. If I'm remembering it right, sweet potatoes also like well drained soil and a moderate amount of fertility..

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    1. Rich, full sun apparently helps as well. I got more from the volunteers in the place they had previously grown than what I got from a "planting".

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