Sunday, November 29, 2009

Preparing Strawberry Tower for Winter

The weather is getting cold in Southern California (temperatures dropping to the lower 40 degrees at night).

It is time to prune away all of the leaves from my Albion Strawberry plants and let the plants rest until February, when the weather will turn warmer.

The Albion Strawberry plants are still flowering and producing a lot of Strawberries (see picture to the right).

I have been picking Strawberries every week for the past month and a half (see this blog entry).

But the Strawberries are not as big as before as the amount of sunlight is decreasing.

The picture to the right shows all of the ripe Strawberries that I picked from the Albion Strawberry plants. I filled up about half of a 32 oz container.

I then pruned away all of the leaves, flowers and runners from the Albion Strawberry plants.

The picture to the right shows how the Strawberry Tower looks after I was done.

The Strawberry Tower looks very similar to what it looked like about 9 months ago, when I first planted the Albion Strawberry plants (see this blog entry)

However, when you look up close at the Albion Strawberry Plants you can see that plants look much different than they did at the beginning.

Compare the picture below with the same view from 9 months ago (see this blog entry).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Last Okinawan Sweet Potato Harvest of the Year

Today, I harvested my last group of Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.

I had planted Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings (see this blog entry) in 3 areas of my garden.

I had already harvested Okinawan Sweet Potatoes from a Raised Bed about 6 weeks ago (see this blog entry) and from a container (see this blog entry).

In this part of my garden, I planted Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings under the trellis that I use to support my Winter Melon plants.

Last week, I harvested all of my Winter Melons (see this blog entry). You can see dead vines from the Winter Melon plants hanging in the midsts of the Okinawan Sweet Potato Vines in the picture at the top right.

With the Winter Melon plants gone, I could cut off the Okinawan Sweet Potato vines and harvest the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.

The picture to the right shows the Raised Bed with the Okinawan Sweet Potato plants. This blog entry shows how the Raised Bed looked like when I first planted the cuttings.

This picture shows two Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in the ground. I carefully removed all of the soil around the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes. You can also see the drip tubing that I use to water my plants in the background of the picture.

The two Okinawan Sweet Potatoes separated very easily. They were not really attached together.

This picture shows the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes that I harvested from the Raised Bed, about 7 pounds worth.

This is less than I harvested from my container (see this blog entry). I think this is because this part of the garden does not get as much sun as the container did. There is a lot of shade from my Neighbor's trees behind the Raised Bed, so this part of the garden only gets sun in the morning.

Still, I got more Okinawan Sweet Potatoes and with a lot less work from the Container, so I am going to plant more Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings in containers next year.

Since I have the Winter Melon Trellis in this part of the Raised bed, there is not much that I can grow in this area. The Okinawan Sweet Potato vines grow fast enough that it can compete with the Winter Melon vines for space. So, I will continue to plant Okinawan Sweet Potatoes here.

The picture to the right shows new Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings that I planted in the Raised Bed after I had completed the harvest.

The brown stuff around the plants is Coconut Coir. I use this to mulch the Raised Bed and warm up the soil. With the cold temperatures we have been having, it has been hard to root Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings (see this blog entry).

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rooting Okinawan Sweet Potato Vines

With the cold temperatures we now have in Southern California (below 50 degrees), it is getting a little hard to to get the Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings to root.

The picture below shows my Circular Raised Bed where I had planted several Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings a month ago (see this blog entry).

I believe the cold weather is hampering growth. I have had to replace a couple of the cuttings because they had shriveled up.

Today I harvested my Winter Melons and dig up all of the Winter Melon vines (see this blog entry), and I noticed that there were Okinawan Sweet Potato vines growing over the area where I had Winter Melon plants (see picture below).

So, after I dug up the Winter Melon plants, I put soil over the Okinawan Sweet Potato vines. I left the Okinawan Sweet Potato vines connected to the rest of the plants. I am hopeful that this will enable the Okinawan Sweet Potato vines to root better than the cutting method. Next week, I will cut the connections and let these vines survive on their own.

The picture below shows how the Okinawan Sweet Potato vines look after I covered part of the vines with soil.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Winter Melon Harvest!

The weather is turning cold in Southern California. The days top out at around 70 degrees and at night it gets down to below 50 degrees.

My Winter Melon plants are starting to die, so it is time to cut down the vines and harvest all of the Winter Melons.

I planted the Winter Melon plants over 8 months ago (see this blog entry).

I harvested some of Winter Melons periodically (see this blog entry), but the bulk of the Melons I left on the vines.

The picture above shows Winter Melons hanging from several vines. I built a trellis using steel garden stakes that I tied with nylon rope to a Metal Fence that I have in my backyard. The vines attached themselves to the stakes. The stakes are strong enough to support several Winter Melons. Each of the Winter Melons in the picture are over 15 pounds each.

The picture below shows all of the Winter Melons that I harvested today.

There were 23 Winter Melons of various shapes and sizes. The ones that are still Green are immature and will need to be eaten quickly. The ones with the white powdery substances will keep for many months.

The Winter Melons in this year's harvest are much bigger than the ones that I harvested last year (see this blog entry). Last year, I grew 15 Winter Melon plants and this year, I only grew 6 plants. This gave the plants more sunlight and space to grow than the plants I grew last year.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

White Mold or Fungus Growing in My Raised Bed

I noticed that there is a white fungus or mold that is growing the Raised Bed that I had fertilized with manure and Soybean meal a few weeks ago (see this blog entry).

From using google on the Internet, I found that this is fungus is not harmful but is a result of having a lot of organic matter decaying in the soil.

I'll keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't spread.

Growing Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in a Container

6 months ago, I purchased 23 Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings from Mericlone Labs (see this blog entry).

I planted most of the cuttings in Raised Beds in my garden. Three weeks ago, I harvested my first Okinawan Sweet Potatoes from one of the Raised Beds (see this blog entry)

I had 4 Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings left over, so I decided to experiment and plant these into a container. I had a fiberglass half barrel planter laying about that I pressed into service.

The picture on the right shows how the cuttings look in the container. They did not look too healthy, as I had planted the better looking ones into the Raised Beds.

Surprisingly, the cuttings took root.

One thing I noticed was that the Okinawan Sweet Potato plants did not produce as many leaves as the ones that I had planted in the Raised Beds. I think this is because there is more nitrogen in the soil of my Raised Beds then there was in the container.

I use Dynamite Controlled Released Fertilizer into the half barrel planter and nothing else. Where as I had put a rich mixture of organic fertilizer in the Raised Bed.

I put the planter next to the east facing part of my house, so the Okinawan Sweet Potato plants only got sunlight in the afternoon.

This picture shows how the Okinawan Sweet Potato plants looked this morning.

This picture shows the half barrel container after I cut away all of the leaves.

I had no idea how many (if any) Okinawan Sweet Potatoes I would have in the container.

So I was very surprised when I flipped the half barrel planter over and found Okinawan Sweet Potatoes all around the edges of the container!!!

The yellow arrows on the picture to the right shows all locations where there are Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.

This picture shows a close up of a large Okinawan Sweet Potato that grew vertically along the edge of the half barrel planter.

There were also Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in the interior of the container.

The picture on the bottom shows all of the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes that I harvested from the container.

It was almost 10 pounds!!!

This was more than I got the Raised Bed that I had harvested 3 weeks ago (see this blog entry) and harvesting was much much easier!!!

It took me a long time to dig up the soil in the Raised Bed to find the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes. I had to dig under and around the Raised Bed because the roots of the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes went under the Raised Bed.

With the container, I just had to invert the half barrel planter to find the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.

I make my own potting mix (see this blog entry) and I think it helps that this potting mix is very loose. This not only made it easier for me to separate out the potting mix to find the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes, but it also made it easier for the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes to grow larger.

In my Raised Beds, the soil is dense and there are rocks and other impediments that prevent Okinawan Sweet Potatoes from growing uniform.

So, what did I learn?

I can grow better and more Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in a container than I can in a Raised Bed.

I am still going to grow Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in my Raised Beds, but I going to get some more half barrel planters and grow more Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in containers.

I already recycled the potting mix and my half barrel planter to grow another round of Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.

One interesting thing is the cuttings I put in the planter this time are much healthier looking than the ones I put in 6 months ago.

I hope I get just as good of a harvest with these cuttings.