…and that uncovered row of sweet potato vines died. Not unexpected, but still, a little sad. Jason’s out harvesting that row right now. I read and read and read (and googled and googled and googled) and I think that if we harvest them within a day or two of the vines dying, they will be fine. Any longer, and they might not keep as well, or taste as good.
(And see, the tricky part about sweet potatoes? It’s not growing them. No, that’s easy; you plop the slips in the ground and off they go. We barely did a thing to them all season, really, truly. But it’s after the harvest that it gets all difficult. You’re supposed to harvest them on a dry, sunny day; let them dry on the soil a few hours; bring them inside to cure at ideally 85-90 degrees and 90% humidity (!!!) for two weeks, then store at 50 degrees – but absolutely no lower – for at least a month before consuming. Then consume them throughout the winter, never allowing them to go below 50 degrees. Easy, yes? No. If you’re in the south, curing at high humidity and heat for two weeks might be possible, but not here. And with the temps dropping, our fireplace insert zaps any humidity right out of the air, and my hair, and my skin, and makes it necessary to cover the potatoes with a wet towel to maintain some humidity. We have the potatoes and squash in a west-facing window to cure right now, and the afternoon sun helps. But it will never read 85 inside here, at least not until next July.)
I haven’t walked through the garden yet, so we’ll see what else fell do the frost. I noticed the sweet potatoes as I drove by on my way to homeschool co-op this morning. The red cabbage also looked suspicious, and I will be very sad if we’ve lost it. The 2/3 of our sweet potato crop that was covered by plastic survived, but has a little frost damage on some leaves. Since the vines are still alive, with only a dead leave every foot or so, the plants should be fine growing until the next threatened frost. This will allow the sweets to continue growing as long as possible, which is ideal, because sweets like to accumulate lots of mass and nutrition at the end of the growing season. The forecast doesn’t go below the 40s at night for at least the next week. So I think we’re all set. For now.
I’ve got a lot of eggplants, peppers, basil, etc. in the garage, waiting to be dealt with. I think I’ll freeze the peppers, dry the basil, and turn the eggplants into Baba Ghanoush. (Does anyone know if I can freeze that, by the way?)