I realized usually by now I post pictures of my deck tomato plants, lovingly grown from seed by my gardening guru friends, Becky and Susan. The plants actually look nice now.
If I wait too much longer, they will very likely be felled by some blight, pestilence, or 6-legged malfactors. Or perhaps by my gardening abilities, but we’re not going to talk about that. But I did hedge my bets this year. I put one tomato plant on my deck, one in a pot in the back yard, and one in a pot in the front yard. This way I can call it an “experiment” and if they all succumb, I can blame it on the raccoons, squirrels, dogs, and the scientific method.
On the deck, I also have a pepper plant (in the center of the photo), because they seem harmless enough.
On the left, you’ll see a laundry basket lined with a garbage bag (because I’m a super fancy gardener — Williams Sonoma eat your heart out). In here are sweet potato slips a friend persuaded me to try. Perhaps he had grown weary of me bemoaning the fate of my tomatoes every year. He was very persistent in describing how easy it was and that you get a bazillion potatoes with very little effort. So I thought, why not? I started to watch a few videos and realized a few things right away.
- Many of the videos on how to grow sweet potatoes feature people who live in warm climates with shorter winters than New England, and they have acres of land to potter around in. So yeah, I’m guessing for those lucky bastards, growing things in general is easier, including sweet potatoes.
- Growing sweet potatoes is actually a 2-step process. My friend seemed only to have seen the first step. Just plant a sweet potato, he assured me. Then sit back and in a few months you can fill a cellar with the things. Maybe in the tropics, but according to the videos featuring people in warmer climates and all that land, those plants that grow out of the potato are called slips. They don’t produce more potatoes until you remove them and replant them. Then you can sit back and get bushels of sweet potatoes.
- If I had wanted to grow the slips myself, I should have started indoors in February. Whoops. I started watching the videos in late May.
But that’s what the internet is for. I ordered slips online. I perhaps should have paused to wonder why my local gardening center didn’t have slips or sweet potatoes. They also had to call over that one gardening guy who knows everything to answer my question about growing them. I believe he said something about the growing season was too short here, but I was already committed — why listen to reason? And I was already moving on to hunt down the bag-of-dirt-way-too-big-for-me-to-carry so I could fill up my laundry basket.
I did plant a sweet potato to see how I could do it next year in case this crazy idea does work. I bought an organic one, and planted it June 7. It’s supposed to take 4 weeks to sprout. I’m two weeks in, and so far I’m right on schedule of not sprouting! So that’s encouraging.
So, I got a potato, I got slips, and I got a laundry basket of dirt.
So what if the growing time is 90 days. I’m ready for amazing things, and who knows, maybe I’ll invent the baby sweet potato.
And speaking of high hopes, I have another experiment going on. My “pollinator” garden.
Last fall, one of the local weather guys recommended a flower that’s easy to grow and attracts bees and hummingbirds. The tomatoes are always hard, but flowers I can do, and I may as well do something for the pollinators. I thought I had written the name down, but I couldn’t find it.
While I was at the gardening center I saw a whole section of these flowers — I recognized the name, and there was even a sign about how they were good for hummingbirds and bees. Yay! Of course, I didn’t save the little tag and I still can’t remember the name. It was starting to bug me so I started searching for “blue flowers that attract hummingbirds and bees.”
I saw many blue flowers, but none that look like this:
And also haven’t seen one bee, never mind a humming bird. Correction: I did see a bee, drilling a hole in the wood beam directly above the flowers. Talk about getting flipped off by nature; my flowers are so bad, you’re going eat wood? So what if you’re a carpenter bee. Come buzz around my pretty flowers, you ingrate.
Sooooo, I don’t know what the plant is, or if it’s even a kind of plant pollinators like. But when it comes to gardening, I have a kind of blind, optimistic enthusiasm, so I also bought a hummingbird feeder to help things along.
It’s been 7 days, and no sign of a bird. What the heck? I spent good money and I’m rolling out the pollen carpet here! Maybe they are on the sweet potato sprouting schedule, and if so, we’re right on time!
P.S. As I was writing this blog, I suddenly wondered if I remembered wrong and the flowers were good for butterflies? Cripes how do people keep track of these things? So I Googled “blue flowers that attract butterflies,” and lo, there they were: campanulas. And they are good for hummingbirds, so I’m not completely crazy.
Just blindly and enthusiastically optimistic.
P.P.S. Came home from work to discover my planted sweet potato thusly dug up and defiled as well as the slip:
Little squirrel bastard. Upon close examination I found this:
A sprout! So I cut that part out and replanted it. Ha! I left the rest out to entertain the effin squirrel.
Blindly and enthusiastically optimistic. Little bastard.