Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

New in the garden this year

Posted by: Mary Jane Smetanka under Vegetables Updated: April 17, 2012 - 10:25 AM

 

 

It snowed yesterday, but the tulips and bleeding hearts are blooming. The garden is filled with promise.
It’s the time of dreaming.
What I’d really like to do this year is put these topiary horses in the yard, flanking the front door. The Minnesota State Fair had these fanciful steeds prancing in place by one of the Snelling Avenue entrance gates last year, and they drew crowds that wanted to touch them and have their pictures taken with them.
Why shouldn’t I be able to recreate these beauties? It’s April, and I haven’t been disappointed in the garden yet this year!
Last year my experiments were more pedestrian: beets and arugula. The beets were yummy, but I've decided that I can easily buy what I need at the farmer’s market rather than use up my limited sunny space on them. I will grow arugula again. Why it is so expensive to buy in the stores when it grows like a weed is beyond me.
That still leaves space in the raised beds for something new. Drum roll please.... this year, I will try sweet potatoes. I was encouraged by other Master Gardeners who say they’ve had great success with sweet potatoes here as long as the bed is kept warm.
I’m going to fill one of my raised beds with fresh soil and cover it with plastic to heat it up in preparation for planting. Unlike regular potatoes, which are sliced up, planted underground and grow from “eyes” that shoot on each chunk, sweet potatoes are grown from slips — little plants that are separated from the parent potato and planted on the surface of the soil as plants.
Because I wanted to make sure I got a variety that does well here — everyone recommends “Georgia Jet” — I ordered my slips from a nursery in Tennessee. They must sell to other northern gardeners because they have special instructions on their web page for us, which makes me think that just maybe I can do this.
So I will cross my fingers and hope. Sweet potatoes in Minnesota, can you imagine?
If you want to take the leap too, here’s a link to a good Mother Earth News story on growing and storing sweet potatoes: http://www.startribune.com/a1227
What crazy plans do you have for this year’s garden? Are you pushing zones and trying something risky, or just something you’ve never grown before?
 

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