This is my third time growing sweet potatoes.
This year I am trying a hilled approach.
This is just bagged dirt, mixed with what I already had in the bed, and amended with some Dr. Earth fertilizer. My hope is that if I keep these hills moist, the soil will remain loose and friable enough for the sweet potatoes to go bonkers and grow well for me.
I shouldn’t mix experiments, but another thing I’m trying that is different this year is that I didn’t cut the sweet potato slips off the mother spud…I just pulled the whole piece from the jar where I sprouted it and stuck it in the dirt.
There are six hopeful sweet potato plants in these 3 hills. The dirt under the hills was worked loose down to 8 or 10 inches. As the vines grow and sprawl over this bed, I’ll let them root wherever they want. Anywhere a vine roots, potatoes start to grow down from there.
My wife says it looks like I buried somebody here.
I wrote a post on March 30th about how to make fast compost. Supposedly the method would yield finished compost in just 14 days or so.
The main difference from traditional composting was that this method installs aeration pipes into the pile to keep oxygen available everywhere during the process.
My pile heated up very quickly, but cooled down a week later. I thought I watered it enough. Today I decided to take as much finished compost from the pile as I could, to top-dress a strawberry bed.
I was able to get some fairly nice compost with only slightly identifiable ingredients, but not an entire finished pile…basically just the middle. I took 3 kid’s wagon’s full…probably 250 pounds total.
The bottom of the pile was VERY, VERY dry, so I ran a garden hose to water that area for 5 minutes and mixed in some fresh grass clippings. All the edges of the pile were also very dry and hadn’t decomposed at all. I don’t know what to do about that except mix the pile up more often, which is what I was trying to avoid with this “fast” method.
Bottom line, it worked for me, but just barely. I think I’ll continue to use some vent pipes in my compost piles when they are deep, but I won’t count on 14 or 30 day compost.
Last week I read an article on how to–supposedly–make compost in 14 days without constantly turning and aerating the pile.
Look closely at the picture above. There are at least 4 pieces of PVC pipe showing their ends in that photo. There are others sticking in from all sides. Each of the pipes has been drilled with multiple holes that will supposedly allow air to flow into the compost pile, keeping it alive and active to decompose mostly on it’s own in as short as two weeks.
The 160 degree temperature was achieved about 72 hours after the pile was put together. So far, so good! I could use the compost in several areas of the garden.
I done messed up last weekend.
I was cleaning up the garden and back yard. I noticed the bucket in which I had begun a project to ferment some homemade soy sauce.
Several months ago I mixed together some soybean cakes, which were supposed to ferment in a bucket of salt water brine, producing lovely soy sauce over time. The project failed and despite the high level of salinity my bucket turned into a moldy mess that smelled worse than an outhouse.
In my frenzy of cleaning up, I just dumped the bucket onto one of my two lovely compost piles. Yes, the water, the soy mash and the 3 pounds of salt that it contained in solution. Salt that will kill all vegetation attempting to grow in it’s soil.
What was I thinking? I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to use the whole compost pile now and I’ll have to dig it up and throw it all away. Gah!!!
This was a busy weekend. In addition to lots of family stuff I was able to get outside for several hours to work on things that must be done before Spring.
- Built the new raised center boxes for 3 more beds
- Bought the lumber for three more trellises
- Transplanted a bed of year old strawberry runner plants
- Sowed a 21 foot row (perimeter of a 4×8 bed) of spinach seeds
- Created a second compost pile and filled it with the last of the fallen leaves and the soil from last year’s containers.
No pictures, but it was satisfying to get more work done.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I plan to add a little more space to the garden this year. The raised beds numbered 10, 11 and 12 will be new this year. Last year I added 7, 8 and 9. (But they were numbered differently.)
The plan in the graphic rotates every crop to a new place. I have kept track of where I have grown everything for the last 2 seasons (since starting) and I’m making sure that I won’t move them back to the same place until after the third year.
I am also going to start a second compost area this spring as soon as I can get out there. It makes sense to have one pile composting while adding to another one.
If this goes as planned, the garden will have expanded to 428 square feet this year. I’m still not making enough compost even to amend my existing beds, let alone to fill up three new ones. I’ll buy bagged stuff 3 for $5 again this year…probably enough to squat the van 2 or 3 times.