Thursday, October 14, 2010

Peanuts and peppers

Last spring I planted peanuts in two different locations. In the first patch, I made ridges to plant them in, and they grew very well. The boys mulched the after the plants got going well. The other patch, however, was decimated by crows. peanuts in the summer kitchenThey picked the seed out of the ground soon after it was planted. Granted, they did leave one or two peanuts that sprouted and grew only to be choked out by the weeds later on.

I dug on row of the peanuts that grew well last week, and the boys dug the other five rows earlier this week. The plants produced well. It was interesting to pull up the plants and find where they had rooted from the vines through the mulch and set on peanuts there as well as at the base of the plants.

We fed the vines to the cows who absolutely love them. The boys spread out the vines from their digging so that they could dry, and I feed some of these to the cows when milking. Both Josie and Tilly are eager to eat this treat at milking time.

After picking the peanuts off of the vines, we spread them out on a couple of window screens to dry outside for a few days. We moved them inside the summer kitchen when we got a little rain. It’s a pretty sight to have screens of peanuts spread out. The peanuts also taste really good. I don’t care for raw peanuts generally, but these are good raw. They’re also good sautéed in a little butter or roasted in the oven.

I also built a frame from which Anne can hang sweet peppers above the wood stove to dry them. I set out a lot of pepper plants in hopes of having a lot to dry. However, the plants didn’t bloom or set on many peppers until September. I’ve had that happen before – really nice plants that don’t produce until the end of the season.

Anne cuts the peppers into rings, runs a string through them, and hangs them up to dry. When they are completely dry, she stores them in jars. They are a nice addition to chili, meatloaf, and other dishes. The children also enjoy just eating them.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Sweet potato harvest 2010

Sweet potatoes

On Tuesday, the boys and I dug our sweet potatoes. We had frost down in the bottom two mornings this week which didn’t hurt anything. A few of the leaves on the sweet potato vines were touched, but I don’t believe the notion that frost will go down the vines into the potatoes as some claim. I an inclined to believe that sweet potatoes can’t stand cool temperatures, and that if they are allowed to chill below 45 degrees they won’t keep well.

Anyhow, it was time to get them out of the ground and into the house. We planted somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 slips last spring. Sweet potatoes are easy to grow, and we’ve had very good success with their production. The harvest in the bed of the truckWe plant the slips in ridges, mulch them a few weeks later when they’ve gotten going well, and then leave them alone other than pulling a few weeds. The only other chore for the season is digging them out of the ground.

I estimate that we harvested 10 bushels of sweet potatoes this year, approximately 600 pounds of these nutrient-rich little buggers. We sorted out the best ones based upon size and blemishes, In the cratesfilling 7.5 crates which I stacked inside. I made these crates a few years ago, and each one holds about 1.25 bushels. There was about 2 bushels that we sorted out to use first, the ones with scrapes, vole bites, blemishes, etc. So, there may be more than 10 bushels, but that’s okay.

We’ll eat from this harvest all winter and through the spring, assuming they cure and keep well. sweet potatoesGenerally, sweet potatoes keep very well for us. They are currently stacked in the children’s room, where they will stay for the duration. After they’ve cured for a couple of weeks, we’ll cover them so that they won’t have light shining on them which could encourage a few of them to sprout prematurely. Next spring, we’ll start slips from some of them for next year’s crop.

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