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.
Last year, when I grew sweet potatoes for the first time, the slips I ordered arrived on the Friday before Memorial Day. There had been several weeks of warm weather and they were tucked into cozy raised beds that had been warmed under black plastic for a month.
This year, some wise person in Tennessee delayed shipments to Minnesota by a week, and I got my slips on the chilly last day of May. They were sturdy and looked perky compared to last year’s lot.
But where to put them?
The raised bed was sopping wet and cold. I decided to wait for drier and warmer weather and wrapped the roots of my little plants in a wet paper towel, putting them in the sunniest spot I could find in the porch.
Three days later, when the rain paused, I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. After work I planted some of the slips in the raised bed and others in pots, and thought about how to protect them from the wind and cold nights.
Into the basement I went, home to all sorts of odds and ends.
I came back out with a plastic cone that had been worn around the neck by a dog after an operation and some plastic milk jugs. The cone fit perfectly over the pot. And when I cut off the bottom of the milk jugs they worked perfectly as cloches, protecting the stringy plants from the wind and perhaps creating a little heat as mini-greenhouses.
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