Our sweet potato harvest is huge this year! We mostly managed to keep the deer out of the plot, by luck and a scarecrow and things that fluttered in the breeze. We’ve filled all our usual boxes and then scrambled twice to find more! There are about 20 plants we didn’t have time to dig up yesterday (our fourth harvest day). Hopefully we’ll get those out of the ground before the rain moves in. A big storm system is approaching from the south west. We’ve been lucky that we haven’t had any very cold weather since that first light frost on 10/5. I remember one awful year when we left the sweet potatoes in the ground too late, hoping they’d fatten up a bit to make up for a poor growing season. Instead, the weather got cold and wet, and the sweet potatoes were rotting in the ground (it was November by then), and those that didn’t rot got chilling damage that prevented them ever softening in cooking. Sweet potatoes that stay hard are no fun to eat! I wrote the harvesting details in an earlier post.
Anyway, back to this year’s good news – I counted the equivalent of 273 normal-sized boxes in the basement this morning. At 23 pounds for our standard box, that’s about 6280 pounds. We might be up to 6500 pounds by the time we’re done. This will be our record! I think our local food pantry will be getting some sweet potatoes this winter and next spring!
Last year I compared sweet potato yields for different years. We usually have about 600 plants in 800 row feet (16″ spacing). Yield is about 11 pounds/sweet potato plant this year. But as they say “your results may vary.” Ours certainly have. Working back from 2012, we harvested 4070 lbs, 2208 lbs, 1860 lbs, “lots” (poor record-keeping!), 5590 lbs, 3820 lbs and 4050 lbs in 2007.
This year we did variety trials of four eggplant varieties, to find one better than Nadia, which is a lovely variety, but didn’t do so well in the hot summer of 2012. Last year we ran the trial and we didn’t get a hot summer. So we tried again. Again, no hot summer! But we did good record-keeping! Here’s our table for this year:
What can we conclude? All four varieties have similar-sized fruit. We deliberately chose purple-black tear-drop shaped eggplant because that’s what our cooks want. We didn’t include any green, striped, long skinny, orange, fluted or other unusual kinds. No judgment about people who like those!
The four varieties, Nadia, Epic, Traviata and Florida Highbush (the only open-pollinated eggplant we included) all have similar-sized fruit, about 0.6 lbs each. Nadia yielded best per plant, at 13.4 fruits over the season. Epic was next at 12.5 fruits, then Traviata with 11.7 fruits. Any statisticians reading this? Are these numbers significantly different?
Florida Highbush was a poor fourth with an average of only 6.8 fruits per plant. Maybe we’ll drop that one from our experiments. On the other hand, with a name like that, perhaps it would do better than the others in a really hot summer!
The records are also helpful in seeing the flow of the harvest. We started harvesting 7/7. Nadia wasn’t ready. They peaked 8/6. We peaked 9/27 (“Almost over”!), after doing a drastic over-harvesting 9/24. We’re farmers not scientists!
On that theme, notice that one bed had thicker rowcover than the other, when transplanted. The two beds were next to each other. One was all Nadia, the other, the three contenders. The row cover could have skewed the results. Onward and upward! Maybe next year we’ll get some results we can bank on.