Greetings from Park Place!
This week Tech GYRLS joined us at the Vance Community Garden to harvest, weed and plant. These girls ROCK! Despite hotter than usual temperatures and a blazing sun these girls tackled weeds with smiling faces. Spiny Pigweed be gone! Underneath these prickly meanies they found young pole beans eager for support. Together, they worked to erect a sturdy trellis and planted marigolds and sweet potatoes to finish filling one of four 20×20 foot beds.
Sweet Potatoes are not really potatoes, but members of the Morning Glory family; sending out leafy vines with morning glory flowers. Sweet Potatoes are grown from “slips”; young shoots that are “slipped” from a mother plant in the warming spring months. We purchase slips from a local farmer who grows slips for our local Southern States stores. He’s always excited when we ask him for slips because he knows we’re teaching people, young and old, about this fantastic vegetable!
Last year, we learned a trick about sweet potatoes. It’s no surprise the Deer LOVE these vegetables. They’ll eat them down to the ground; repeatedly! In a desperate attempt to save our potatoes we hooped them with 5 foot long pieces of 9 gauge fencing wire spaced at 6 foot intervals down the bed. We covered the hooped bed with wildlife netting, burying the edges with dirt. The plants rebounded in their protected space, sending leaves through the netting. These leaves were trimmed by deer browse. By harvest time, the mounds yielded incredible potatoes. Big orange beauties. When talking with our “slip farmer” about our method he smiled and said that sweet potatoes actually grow better if trimmed and not allowed to sprawl uncontrollably. “They put more energy into tuber production than leaf production that way”.
So go get some slips and slip them into the ground. And if you have deer, build yourself a netting tunnel and know that they’ll help your sweeties grow!