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Garland Community Garden:  Charles Bevilacqua with recently dug sweet potatoes - November 8, 2015 

HARVESTING SWEET POTATOES

This morning Charlie and I worshiped in the Church of the Garden and Mother Nature duly rewarded us.  We harvested one and a half five-gallon buckets of sweet potatoes and gathered another five-gallon bucket of loofahs.  

Members of Loving Garland green have found the sweet potato grows very well here in North Texas--provided, of course, the gardener has amended our heavy clay soil with expanded shale or perlite prior to planting the slips.  Jane Stroud, an officer of Loving Garland Green's board, has been successfully growing sweet potatoes for several years here in the backyard of her home which is located in the Firewheel area of Garland.

Bucket of Sweet Potatoes from the Garland Community Garden:  November 8, 2015

TIPS ON HARVESTING SWEET POTATOES

1. Harvest Prior to the First Frost

As long as the weather stays warm, sweet potatoes will keep growing.  Unlike white potato vines, the sweet potato vines don't die and signal harvest time.  You do, however, want to harvest them before the first frost.  Cold weather and frost can hurt the sweet potatoes.  When frost blackens the vines, decay can quickly start in the dead vines and spread down to the potatoes.  If a frost hits before harvest, cut the vines off at the top of the soil the first thing the next morning and then harvest the potatoes no later than four days.

NOTE:  Sweet Potato leaves may be eaten in a salad and make a great substitute for spinach.  Unlike the white potato which is a member of the nightshade family, the sweet potato is not.  In fact, the leaves of the sweet potato are even more nutritious than spinach. [Source:  http://skipthepie.org/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/spinach-raw/compared-to/sweet-potato-leaves-raw - accessed Nov 8, 2015.]

2. Cure the Sweet Potatoes

Unlike most vegetables, you should not eat sweet potatoes right from the garden as they will have little flavor and you should not wash them. They must be aged for about two weeks prior to eating. To cure them, place them in a warm dark place that has some humidity.  Eighty Degrees F is an ideal temperature.  After curing, keep potatoes in a dry well-ventilated place at about 60 degrees.  Sweet potatoes can usually be kept up to the next harvest.  It's a good idea to save back a few for growing slips for next year's crop.

Loofahs on top shelf and sweet potatoes on bottom shelf--stored in the garage for curing--November 8, 2015

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OBSERVING MONARCHS ON NOVEMBER 8, 2015 AT THE GARLAND COMMUNITY GARDEN

Garland Community Garden, Garland TX - November 8, 2015 10:30 am - Healthy Male Monarch

Today was another great day for butterfly sighting here in Garland.  While we were down at the garden we saw three large Monarchs and one Gulf Fritillary.  It seems as though we always see at least one of another species of butterflies whenever we see a Monarch.  Perhaps these other pollinators want to remind us they are an important part of the ecosystem as well.

One of the three Monarchs was tagged.

Garland Community Garden- Garland Texas - 75040 - Tagged Female Monarch  - observed about 10:30 AM Sunday November 8, 2015

I saw her first perched on a zinnia near our spent tomato patch.  I followed here around the garden, but never could get close enough to read the tag.  As you can see from the photo below, her right wing is damaged.  It didn't appear to impair her flying capability, but the wing looks like what paper looks like when it gets wet, turns dark and is puckered after drying.  Perhaps the tag was attached shortly after she eclosed and the wing was not dry so the handler damaged it while applying the tag by pressing too hard.  The tag was applied to the opposite wing--not the one that is damaged.  Below is another photo I was able to get of her.  This time she was perching on top of one of the loofah leaves.

Garland Community Garden Garland Texas 75040 - November 8, 2015 - Another view of the tagged and seemingly injured Monarch.

More information on Tagging Monarchs:

Monarch tags are tiny, round stickers made of polypropylene. They are 9 mm in diameter, a little larger than a hole-punch. A tag weighs 10 mg. A typical monarch weighs 500 mgs, so the tag is about 2 percent of a butterfly's weight. The tag is encoded with unique numbers and letters. Tags are supplied by Monarch Watch, a University of Kansas program that documents the monarch migration and promotes conservation of butterfly habitats. Tagging information helps answer questions about the geographic origins of monarchs, the timing and pace of the migration, mortality during migration, the effects of wind and weather, and changes in geographic distribution of monarchs.

More information at Monarch Watch. 

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