The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Harvesting sweet potatoes early

Beauregard sweet potatoesI've written before about when to harvest sweet potatoes --- the short answer is, I usually dig the tasty tubers sometime in late September.  So why am I pulling them out of the ground in August?

I've decided to cut our losses with the sweet potatoes in the most deer-friendly spots.  After all, the tubers are used to store energy, and the plants need energy to regrow leaves each time the deer invade.  After a certain number of defoliations, we'll actually get less tuber weight by waiting than we could by digging now since the plants would use more energy to regrow their leaves than they got back through photosynthesis during these shortening days.

Okay, there's also the fact that I had a nightmare about the deer digging my fall carrots out of the ground with their hooves after being attracted to the sweet potatoes.  Who says I garden scientifically?

Sweet potatoes in wagonThe tubers in the beds planted on May 13 and 20 looked pretty much full-size, so I don't think I lost too much by digging early.  The mule garden bed, though, was the last in --- planted on June 3 --- and clearly could have used more time.  Hopefully the four remaining beds --- two lightly deer nipped and two protected by their proximity to our front door --- will give us even bigger yields.

The one advantage of harvesting some of our sweet potatoes early is that it allows me to spread them out in the yellow wagon to cure.  I always struggle to find enough dry, shaded spots to set up screens during the curing period, so it's great to be able to use a mobile drying station.

Our chicken waterer is always POOP-free.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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