It’s Day 92 and the recent night temperatures have dropped to around 14°C/57°F. Leaves have turned yellow and a surprising amount of them have turned brown and withered. Nonetheless, there are a vast amount of big green leaves and even some young, purple ones. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they’d just stop putting out leaves when it’s time to harvest – an alarm clock of a sort?! lol
In July, when we were getting 47°C/117°F during the day, I’d fill the underplate of the plantbox twice – sometimes thrice – daily. These plants drink a lot! One of my new gardening books stated that an up-ended plastic bottle (with the bottom trimmed off) inserted into the soil next to the slip at the time of planting would allow the plant to water its self during the day. Way too late to implement now…next year.
Another thing I learned during this experiment was that sweet potatoes need a lot of room. Next year’s crop is getting a 2 feet wide by 1.5 foot deep round plastic pot on feet (to allow drainage), if it can be found. Also, instead of planting two slips – which was insurance against one dying – I should only plant one in each pot. Each plant produces an estimated 4 – 12 potatoes, depending on space, weather, etc.
So, great expectations? Small, but fully developed potatoes. Still, there’s a minimum of 8 days to go; however, my research indicates that they can actually be left in the earth until just before the first frost. From experience, our first ‘frosty’ night should be about a month away. Some folks leave them in until the leaves turn black from frost. They’ve indicated that the potatoes will then suck every last nutrient from the soil; but that can be iffy, as the potatoes could rot. How sad would that be? Truthfully, it’s my greatest fear right now. Plus, as these potatoes are intended for storage for winter use, a sunny day is required for them to ‘cure’. Austrian Fall/Winter days are not known to be particularly sunny.
‘Curing’ is basically leaving them in the sun on the day of harvesting. This allows the rather tender skins to harden, which protects the potato from damage and bugs. From what I’ve read, it also allows the sugars to form which gives the potato its characteristically sweeter taste.
So, that’s where we are now; 8 more days for the official 100, constant weather/sky monitoring, and a lot of prayer.