Friday, June 27, 2014

Easy Way To Start and Grow Sweet Potatoes

 






For the past 3 years, we have grown sweet potatoes. It has been fun and easy..... and delicious. Another perk is that the leaves and vines are beautiful.




This was one of ours from the last couple of years.






 The first thing to do is to buy a sweet potato at the grocery store - an organic one is the best, but the one you see here came from the regular produce. I have found it best to choose a smaller one instead of a large one.

Cut it in half, or even smaller if you had to get a large one. Set it in water and keep it wet. They take a while to start sprouting, but once they do, they REALLY give lots of sprouts.

What fun that these grow so easily - I'm so glad that God made them this way!
 I leave it on the counter near the window so it gets some light. Mine never get any direct sunlight and I don't know if it would be a problem or not.... I just have them in a north facing window.

The one bowl has lots of new sprouts on the sweet potato, as you can see. The other bowl has the sprouts I have removed - they are in water to allow roots to grow.
 You can tell that they are a pretty plant, even just to grow for the greenery. :)

I enjoy plants and have some that are simply "pretty", but I especially love it when a plant can be both pretty and useful. I continue to be amazed by the variety of God's creation.
 The sweet potato itself will also develop roots. When I am ready to be done with the sprouting, I will also plant the sweet potato.


 Here are the roots growing in the  water.














When the sprouts get large enough, it is time to break them off and allow them to get roots. Sometimes they will develop roots while on the sweet potato also, but I have been pushing it to keep giving me more sprouts, so I am doing it
this way.

This one is big enough - time to remove it.







 This is the sprout I just removed from the sweet potato,
 Just put it into the bowl of water and leave it for several days or a week or two.... it will root.

Here it is in the bowl - to form roots.













 These are the other sprouts in the bowl. Most have already rooted, but I will leave them for a few more days until I am ready to plant them.... having extra time to develop more roots will give them a better chance to grow well when they get out into the bed.
 More waiting.... All they have to do is stay on the counter near the window. Check the water levels every few days and fill when necessary. You don't want them to dry out.
Here are the plants that are already growing in the bed. I planted these 2-3 weeks ago. These plants came off of the same sweet potato you have seen in the pictures above.

I will add the new plants, when they are ready, in between these and maybe in another bed.... IF I can find somewhere to put them. :) I have already shared that we have a city garden and are a bit limited on our space.



 The plants are growing nicely, but they would grow much better and faster if they had more sun.
 Another view.... when they start growing taller, they will look nice on a trellis.

 These are the 2 sweet potato beds from last year..... still not a lot of sun, but they grew. The top of the plant looks nice, but what is happening underground is a mystery until we dig in the soil to see.
 Here you can see some of the sweet potatoes in the ground.  Sometimes we have dug up a couple of the sweet potatoes and carefully removed them from the plant.... and then left the plants to keep growing.

Pretty amazing to see the swollen parts underground - that will taste so good!
 This is one of them - one of the average sized sweet potatoes.....

Two years ago, we had one sweet potato that was 14" long. One of our sons was pretty pleased with it.....and we all enjoyed eating it.... that one sweet potato was enough for all of us. :)

This is so good for the kids to see that food doesn't come from the grocery store, but that God provides what the plants need and they grow. He provides for us - whether we grow it ourselves, or we buy what someone else has grown. 
Here is part of our harvest from another year.

Two years ago, we had lots of sweet potatoes and they were quite large. Last year's crop was quite "twisty" and small.... they tasted good, but we liked the crop from the year before better.  What will this year's crop be like? We'll find out in several weeks/months.

If you haven't tried to grow sweet potatoes, it really is easy.... would be a great homeschool project even if you only end up with a houseplant to enjoy.  My family loves eating sweet potatoes and these had extra good flavor. The inside color was more intense than the outside color. Lots of good nutrition here.

One of our favorite ways to eat sweet potatoes is to just scrub them and bake them....like regular potatoes. When they are baked and tender, we cut them open and put butter and cinnamon on them. Yum. :) 

Thank you for visiting my blog..... I hope you will give this a try. Have a great week. :)

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

From Cherries To Cherry Pie!

We have been picking cherries - sour cherries.. which are also called pie cherries. My husband loves cherries.... and so does the whole family.

This is what we all look forward to.... cherry pie.... or cherry crisp.... cherry jam..... cherry anything!

My dad grew up in Traverse City, Michigan where about 3/4 of the cherries grown in the US are grown... I grew up knowing that cherries are wonderful and we even had our own cherry tree....then I married a man who also loves cherries. :)
 First the cherries have to be picked. So far, my husband and some of the kids, have picked about 60 pounds off from two trees in the area this year.

These have been pitted...

Though I was planning to make cherry pie, I was determined to get some of these wonderful cherries into the freezer for winter. I put 2 of these bags of cherries in... and the rest went to pies.

One of the pie crusts all ready for cherries.....
 Uh Oh, there is a problem here..... do you see it?
This is the problem.... a pit that was overlooked.  Eating cherries requires some care as there could be a pit here and there.... and that can take all of the enjoyment out of eating the pie if you crack a tooth. These pits can be easy to miss.... glad I caught this one. :)

Like pits, sins can be easily overlooked too....  I wonder if I need to look at my life more closely and see if I missed any.... and repent of them..... hmmmm.  I don't want to miss those - they can cause more damage than cherry pits.
 
 Cherries, with sugar and flour, are in the crust, and dotted with butter.... now to make the basket weave crust....

I do short the sugar a little as we like the pie a bit tart - of course having ice cream on it also adds some sweetness. :)
 Ready for the oven.... some of the strips are uneven as one of the girls practiced cutting and weaving the strips on this pie..... looks pretty good. :)
 It won't be long now........
 Yum..... and it smells so good! :)
 Mmmmm.....
 Seems to have turned out okay.....

It was still warm...... and needed ice cream..... Yes...... it turned out okay. :)  We all enjoyed it after working hard today....

Thank you for visiting my blog today. I hope you have a great week!

























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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How Does My Garden Grow?


 I am re-posting this post from last year... and it is surprising how much behind my garden is this year from where it was last year. We have had so much rain and little sun...  Seeing these pictures from about the same time last year, shows a different picture. It is interesting how things can differ from one year to the next. :)
 
How does my garden grow?  Well, take a garden tour with me and see how it looks here in mid June....




 As I have said before, we live in the city and yet we also have vegetable gardens.... and flowers. :)  For one thing, living in the city, we have to be careful to keep things from looking like a farm.(By the way, I am in no way criticizing farms - I would LOVE to have more property and have a type of "farm garden", but this is what God has provided for us now and we are using what we have.. and I like to mix the beauty of flowers and vegetables, fruits and herbs all together.........

We now have cucumber blossoms and just this morning, I am seeing tiny cucumbers - about 1/2" long. We made quite a few jars of pickles last year and hope to again.... I still have had to also buy pickles, but the jars I did put up were a help.... and we enjoyed eating the cucumbers fresh too!
Here are the carrots growing between the rows of tomatoes..... there are also onions growing in rows in the same area.  


Here are the onions...... they are starting to grow quite quickly. I usually grow them for greens, but this year, I am hoping to also have some large onions to save for the winter months... we'll see how we do.







                                                          The tomatoes are growing quite fast also.... we love tomatoes. I have about 20 plants growing and they are all staked. I use strips of pantyhose to tie them up.... planning a post about that soon...... Anyway,  there are 10 tomato plants in a 4' x 8' raised garden bed. Then there is a 7' long row of carrots in the middle, with 2 rows of onions (one on either side of the carrots). I usually plant marigolds at the ends which helps keep bugs away... and looks pretty. I have 2 of these beds going as we really like tomatoes and tend to eat them as fast as they ripen.... so this year, I hope to can some of them.

Green beans are here in the form of bush beans.... I don't have many plants... as something ate them and only a very few survived. There aren't enough to make a pot of green beans, so I will plan to plant more and will use these cut up into salads.






I have a few pepper plants - mostly the bell peppers, although I also have a pimento and jalapeno plant.













There are 4 beds here and the first and 3rd are the same. The second one has cucumbers, green beans, beets (which have also had the greens eaten off and are just now starting to grow).

We do have to water the gardens and I am afraid we have gotten lax about putting the hose away...  As often as we have to water, it just hasn't seemed worth the trouble. :)



 I tend to use "odd items" to stake and trellis my gardens.  Here is an old metal headboard, coupled with another old metal footboard - for my cucumbers to grow up.
 These beds are 2' wide and there are two that are 8' long and one that is 6' long. I love these beds.... so handy and they frame the back of the yard which increases our usable space.

This is the melon and cucumber bed.... these cucumbers are my second crop and should be producing well by the time the other crop is fading out.
 Yellow straight necked squash and zucchini squash. I planted about 6-7 of the zucchini seeds and only 2 came up.... then something damaged one of them a day ago and I don't think it is going to make it, SO I will plant more and get what I can from one plant.

The red plants are amaranthus.

I have a large red clover plant spreading out in the one garden... doesn't look great, but I want to harvest it for tea, so am letting it grow. I don't have the room to allow it to take over this bed though, so will have to watch it. 
 I LOVE dill!!!  I love to pick off a sprig of it and smell it.... smells so good. :)  Last year, I started eating a sprig of it while gardening and do it many days now..... also started eating the young dill seeds while out gardening.... they taste good and are beneficial to eat.

We use dill in salads, casseroles, dill pickles, and more...  It is a plant that I have to keep planting though, to have some fresh all summer long...


Borage and one of my lavenders.....














 The back garden is in the process of being re-worked.... again. :)  We have compost containers and have moved them to the back fence now... and plan to put another garden bed where they were.


This is the new location of the compost containers, which I have found at garage sales and they work great-we have used them for years.

If I didn't have these, I would compost some other way... there are many ways to make compost.... and I am convinced that compost is one of the very best things for my garden... and it is FREE because we use garden trimmings, veggie scraps, leaves, grass, etc.
 This is the old location of the compost containers. We removed the martin house as we have too many trees to use it right now. I am planning a bed along that fence... not sure what I will put in it yet. :)

Here are baby's breath and garden phlox plants under the peach tree, with some blueberry bushes behind them and blackberry vines at the back.
 We LOVE blueberries.... and have to work hard to keep the birds from taking them all! 
 The blackberry bushes  have been another attraction for the birds... here in the city, we have a LOT of birds... but we are thankful for the fruit we get. :)
Elderberry bushes..... I make elderberry tincture and syrup from them and plan to harvest some of the flowers this year for tea.











 Sweet potatoes are just starting to grow - we started them from a sweet potato from the store and still have more sprouts to plants... there are about 8 plants growing in the garden so far. We really like sweet potatoes and they are so easy to grow... here we planted them in uncomposted compost.... we ran out of dirt, so did something different... working out okay so far. :)
 Echinacea.... a striking looking flower at all times of the year.... early, like this.... and when they are in bloom.......and even when they go to seed.... they also look so pretty against the snow in the winter. All that, plus the plant is great for fighting sickness.

A bit of whimsy...... :)



Some beauty.....
 Looks like a pretty typical suburban backyard.....


It is amazing how much can fit into a small yard... it takes some flexibility on how we grow things... but it works.  I tend to trellis and stake many of my plants as they take up less ground that way....and still produce well.

Our yard has  a LOT of shade, so we have had to be creative in getting "full sun" plants to thrive.
 At first glance, it doesn't look like there is much there........ we have had visitors ask, "Now where is your garden?" This is totally different than a big garden where everything is spread out and in rows... those are nice too, but we can't do that here....  This works for us and the nice thing about gardening is that there are SO many different ways to do it. I hope you enjoy your gardens.
 We have more "gardens" tucked here and there all around the property... I have started naming many of them so that we can discuss them and we all know what we are talking about. :)   We have the raised garden beds numbered 1-8, the back garden, the peace garden, the rose garden, rock wall garden,  herb garden, etc.  It is fun.







No matter how much space you have.... it is possible to garden. Even if you only have a tiny little balcony like we did in our first place... and no grass/ground, you can still container plant. I love how God has made such an abundance of plant life that we can enjoy growing on our property....the variety is incredible.

Thank you for visiting my blog today and "touring" my garden. :) Have a great day!

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