Bob Owens

The saddest truth in politics is that people get the leaders they deserve

Sunday morning afternoon garden blogging: tater harvest edition

Written By: Bob - Jun• 09•13

We planted four half-barrels of potatoes back in late March, with two buckets being purchased seed potatoes, and two buckets being planted with eyes from some “lost” potatoes that started growing in the pantry on their own.

The plants finally pooped out in the first real summer heat we had a couple of weeks back, and now the harvest is in.

No threat to Idaho.

No threat to Idaho.

The seed potatoes themselves did “meh,” churning out a couple of lime-sized to dime sized potatoes for each plant. The self-starters grew beautiful plants that actually handled the Carolina heat better than the seed potatoes, but their output was sad, just one golf ball-sized spud each. All totaled, the collective spudtacular filled one colander with potatoes, enough for a couple of meals as a side, but no more. I don’t know if we needed to get the plants in the ground earlier (quite possible), but they were easy enough to grow (set it and forget it) that I’ll be giving them another try when the weather cools back down.

Also this week we had the leftovers of Tropical Storm Andrea rumble through, dumping 5″ or so of rain (according to the measurements at RDU) and throwing some serious straightline winds that flattened a lot of my corn. I’ve braced what I could in the three sisters garden; the rest is going to have to fend for itself.

Master of my domain... though it ain't much.

This ain’t Farmville, but I enjoy it.

The three sisters garden is actually doing fairly well, through the pole beans aren’t growing as as much as I’d like. I might have got them planted a little too late, because now the corn is shading them heavily. The assorted squash plants, though, are really starting to take off. and will hopefully seen be thick enough to cut down on the amount of weeding I need to do.

Trellising butternut squash.

Trellising butternut squash. Notice the squash on the left that are disinterested in doing much of anything. They’re apparently part of Occupy Garden.

I put up a simple stick-and-netting trellis for my wife’s butternut squash and threaded them through the weave earlier in the week, and the plants seem to love it. What I can’t grasp is why the one hill of butternuts on the right of the photo is doing so well, while the other is unmotivated. I hate slacker squash.



Our buckets of various herbs are doing well. That’s parsley, cilantro, thyme, and basil. We just put Roma tomatoes in the kitty litter buckets behind them. They’re perfectly size for tomato plants, and the ability to move them and the other container plants has simplified yard maintenance.

The sweet potatoes are getting established.

The six containers of sweet potatoes are getting established.

Our six buckets of sweet potatoes (two plants per container) are doing well, and I planted four more in the “regular” potato buckets after they were harvested.

One thing I’m very happy with is the growth of our four blackberry bushes this year. They produced nothing last year, and I cut them back deeply (down to a single stalk) before the season. They’ve gone a bit nuts, and are producing a lot of new growth and fruit.

Blackberry bushes, arranged around a cypress.

Blackberry bushes, arranged around a cypress.

The fruit are coming in thick, and I just put up bird netting over the entire corner. The fun part was cutting a hole for the cypress and threading it down, branch by branch. The neighborhood birds are going to have to make do with the mulberry treeĀ  in the easement behind our property. In a few weeks, we should have quarts of blackberrys to munch on.

Speaking of weird things growing in the easement, does anyone have an idea of what this fast-growing plant is? You nailed the mulberry without any effort, so I figured I’d test your knowledge again.

Mystery plant.

Mystery plant.

It’s very fast growing (a foot a week it seems), and this particular example is over 6′ tall. It is hollow-stemmed, with large, broad leaves, and it has sizable tubers than look sort of like sweet potatoes that growing vertically down into the ground. These tubers, when cut open, smell a little like turnips, and if you cut the plant down, it will start regrowing from the tuber almost immediately.

They are invasive and pervasive, and it is taking a lot of work to knock them down and destroy their tubers. I’d like know what they are, to see if there is a particular way to deal with them.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. rocketguy says:

    Hard to say for sure from the pic but I’m going to guess it’s dock or sorrel. They grow like crazy and have a beefy tap root. When it goes to seed, you’ll know for sure as they are very distinctive. I’ve never tried it but it’s an edible plant.

  2. Robert says:

    Beware of squirrel depredations when the tomatoes ripen. We lost lots of our potted deck tomatoes to squirrels last year.

  3. Jeff Hoser says:

    I’d suggest your “taters” need more room and cooler temps. Stacking old tires is one way. (Paint them white when temps rise and direct sun hits the tires.) My choice of “garden tubs” is split plastic 35 gal. barrels. Put stone in the bottom and leave the bung out to drain excess casual water. Make the right sort of cradle and you can stack the whole garden when the season is done. Easily sanitized, too boot ! >Jeff

  4. Arkindole says:

    Looks like maybe some fungus got yer taters, at least the few that are shown. Next time, maybe load up on phosphate/bone meal (preferentially for tuber/root crops), and apply sulfur every so often to keep the blight down. When the leaves show the fungus start using the wettable sulfur on the soil and leaves. Also, above, is a comment about heat. Ground temp above 81F inhibits the tuber formation. Last, cut off all the flower buds as they form. It’s always something with this garden stuff…good luck.

  5. Right_2_Bear says:

    Looking good! Thanks for the update.