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My new BLOG!

  • Saturday, November 7, 2009

  • So I have finally figured out how I can help get the average person to grow their own food.....make it so simple that they have no reason not to!  In my professional life I am a 'Usabilty' girl- I make websites and applications easy to use.  So it got me thinking.... most people have little time to spare in their daily lives.... but if gardening was broken down to its simple parts, maybe some people would give it a try!  My goal is to break down typical gardening concepts into three steps.  I feel these steps will give people a basic understanding of what to do and will give people the information they need to actually TRY IT.  So here goes -- check out my new blog:  I need to start really populating it - but stay tuned, lots coming now with the core growing season over!

    Reflections of Growing Season 2009

  • Everytime I put my garden to bed I get abit of nostalgia and I like to look back at the season.... Boy this has been a tough growing year.  From crazy temps to bugs and animals that really kept me on my toes- my original garden plan got blown away pretty quickly.  Even with all of the hiccups, I realized that my garden gave me hope, happiness, a healthy baby, and a healthy family.  So you know what- it was a total success!  Who cares if my pumpkins only ripened in November and I only had a handful of squash?  Quoting my mum, "you had fun, didn't you?  That is all that makes a difference."  So I will continue to learn from what I did this year to plan my next years garden- but for now..... good night garden..... till spring comes and we meet again!  This final harvest gave us lots of good things: sugar pumpkins, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, beet tops, dried beans, and hot peppers!  Here is my tiny helper, Skyla, at age 2 months!

    Fungus and Sweet Potatoes--- ick.

  • Thursday, November 5, 2009
  • So each year I harvest my sweet potatoes and some of them have black skin..... some have gorgeous orange skin.  I am always back on the computer to figure out what it is... so once and for all, I am posting the reason here!  It is a fungus - but the fruit is FINE TO EAT!

    What is wrong with my sweet potatoes? (

    Amanda Sears
    Register Columnist

    Several people have either called or come by the office about their sweet potatoes recently. Their concern was with the dark discoloration on the surface of the sweet potatoes. Is there reason for concern? The answer is no. What you are seeing is a condition known as scurf. Scurf is a soil-bourne fungus that colonizes the skin of the sweet potato, causing purplish-brown-to-black lesions. These discolored areas are merely cosmetic injuries and the sweet potatoes are fine to eat.

    Scurf is transmitted from infected mother roots to transplants and then to the field. Once there, it can persist in the soil for years. This fungi only effects sweet potatoes and its plant relatives, such as morning glory. Rainy conditions can increase the severity of the problem.

    As a producer, be sure to use disease-free plants when transplanting. Consider using vine cuttings instead of root slips. Do not use transplants grown from sweet potatoes that contain scurf. Also, choose a field that has not grown sweet potatoes in the last three years. Thoroughly clean equipment after working in infected soil. This is a good practice whenever dealing with any soil-borne fungus.

    If transplants are suspected of having this fungal disease, you can cut off some of the bottom portion of the slip, which is the area which will contain the fungus. If you choose to disinfect your slips with bleach, be sure to use a very diluted solution, such as one cap of bleach per gallon of water, then rinse thoroughly with pure water. If the solution is more concentrated, it could prove harmful to the slips.

    There are certain fungicides that can be used pre-plant. If you are interested, please call me at the Madison County Extension Office, 623-4072.

    So, are sweet potatoes safe to eat if they have scurf? Yes. In fact, I would feel confident eating them myself … especially if they are in the form of a pie!

    First 'Light' Frost!

  • Wednesday, November 4, 2009
  • So we got our first light frost last night.  First week in November, not so bad!  I checked to see what damage had occurred but even my pepper plants survived abit of cold. I don't think they will be so lucky next time.  To this point I am still harvesting the following veggies!
    • hot peppers
    • dry beans
    • pie pumpkins
    • acorn squash
    • Papaya squash....amazing but true!
    • beets
    • herbs
    • lettuce
    • swiss chard
    • malabar 'mock' spinach
    So not so bad for November. My kale is growing so hopefully we will have greens for the winter.  As each plant finishes its life it makes the job of cleaning up the garden much easier ..... but we aren't done for the season yet!

    Autumn in Virginia....

  • Sunday, November 1, 2009

  • So I am from Massachusetts but have settled in Virginia, and have a soft spot for New England Autumn.  This year, the colors in VA almost matched that of my memories of Massachusetts.....  Overall, fall is a time to wind down, tidy up the garden, relax and flip through seed catologs, and dream of the next growing season. I don't think I could take growing food all year round!  I think both the garden and I need a break from one another!  My fall activities include:
    • Move my worm composter into the garage and give them some good things to munch on
    • Clean up the garden, pull out dead plants and compost them, put away pots into the shed
    • Add mulched up leaves to all beds (especially the garlic bed)
    • Pick up some manure from a friend (If fresh let sit at least two months before you put on garden)
    • Inventory my seeds to see what I have left
    • Plant some kale and spinach seeds and see if they either sprout or will sprout in spring
    • Sit back and say, "wow...what a year! I can have even more fun next year!"