November 17, 2020

Sweet Potatoes, Rice, and Peanuts

First frost is the decisive end of the summer garden. We had two light ones back-to-back at the beginning of the month, and although they weren't killing frosts, they did enough damage to set fall harvest in motion.

The first thing on my list was sweet potatoes. I waited as long as I could, since the bed in the garden never seemed to grow well. Of my two plantings of slips, these were planted first (April 5th and 6th). But that particular bed is at the top of the garden and has never held soil moisture well, so the plants never grew well, even with my inverted bottle waterer experiment.

Photo from last August.

The sweet potatoes in the African Keyhole Garden, on the other hand, did fantastic.

The slips in the keyhole garden were planted June 9th.

The difference in the harvest is just as amazing. 

On the left are the largest from the keyhole garden.
On the right are the largest from the garden bed.

It wasn't a huge harvest because my slips were late to grow, but I'll take whatever I get and be thankful for it. 

Another surprise was my rice. We planted a small plot of it last June, and I admit I was doubtful about the seed, which I saved from the previous summer. I'm pretty sure I harvested it too early, so I doubted it was mature enough to be viable. Amongst the (unwanted) volunteer grasses, I assumed it was a no-show. Dan even mowed the patch, and I never watered it, even during our hot dry spell. What a surprise to finally realize I had scatterings of mature rice plant growing there!

I hand harvested these by cutting off the heads. The yield was a bowlful.

Rice harvest so far.

There are still a few unripe rice plants, but even so, I won't get much of a harvest. But at least it's a seed crop for next year. 

Lastly, my peanuts. They're supposed to be harvested when the leaves start to turn yellow and about 70% of the nuts are mature. Well, the plants never yellowed, but they did suffer some frost damage. I checked on them the other day and discovered that between soggy soil and a return to summer-like temperatures last week, they were starting to sprout! So I pulled them.

One thing I observed is that where the vines laid on the ground, more peanuts grew.

That gives me information about how to increase production next year.

The last step is to dry them, and I hope that stops them from sprouting so I can have seed to plant next year!

Of the summer garden, my Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes and Cornfield pole beans are still producing. 

Neither got much frost damage. Looking at the weather forecast, however, I suspect that will come to a frozen end soon. 


Gorges Smythe said...

I remember Dad growing peanuts when I was a kid, but only once.

Dawn said...

Rice is something I want to grow but finding a viable seed here in the U.K. is proving difficult

Leigh said...

Gorges, any idea he only tried once? Seems easier than some other things I've tried!

Dawn, I had trouble finding seed here too. One of the types I tried was an Italian variety, so it would seem someone across the pond should have seed. Not a common garden item, though.

Rosalea said...

I love the first line, "First frost is the decisive end of the summer garden". It suggests there are other gardens that continue, which there are, for you. A gardener's hope springs eternal! My summer and fall gardens (if there is such a thing up here) are done, finished! I am now confined to fussing with a few indoor plants, as far as gardening goes. Those sweet spuds do look amazingly delicious. I bet home grown taste nothing like store bought. Tomatoes, still on the vine... Apparently there are short season varieties of peanuts that can be grown here. What is the process required to free the rice seeds, now that they are harvested?

Pioneer Woman at Heart said...

I grew peanuts one year. They were an heirloom type and were delicious.

daisy g said...

Well, that's quite a difference in your sweet potatoes! Even the small ones will be delicious roasted or added to soups.
Envious of your ambition to grow rice! How fascinating!

I grew peanuts in Florida and maybe I'll try them again. If for no other reason, they can be added to the chooks feed.

Enjoy your harvest!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh, pulled my sweet potatoes as well - not quite a full frost but I need the space for Winter gardening. It was not as good as last year, but I still got something.

Leigh said...

Rosalea, I so agree about a gardener's hope springing eternal! We just change seasons. :)

The rice requires a dehuller, which I don't have. Last year's harvest appeared to be a bust, so I saved it in hopes it could be a seed crop. It was! If I get a decent harvest next summer, I'll invest in making a dehuller and learn how to do that.

Kristina, I'm glad to hear they were a success! Any particular reason why you only grew them one year?

Daisy, everything homegrown tastes so much better!

What I'd really like to do, is to make my own peanut butter. My Country Living Grain Mill has a nut butter auger, and we love peanut butter so that would be a good option. This year's will be a seed crop, But I also cut and dried the vines to add to the goat hay.

TB, I agree, something is better than nothing! And we can always hope in next year. :)

wyomingheart said...

Keyhole bounty ! It’s very hard to deny the excellence of that garden, for sure! We are going to put in 3 more next spring. I’m happy you got seed yield on the rice, as that will be great to plant next year. Mine was a no show, but I am not giving up hope! Try and try again ;) ! Your peanuts were good shows, too. Have you ever tried growing the white sweet potatoes? They are great producers, and a firmer texture than a regular sweet potato. We learned about them about 5 years ago, and picked some up from the grocery store, and planted some slips. To our great surprise, they grew, and grew well! There are many things that we discover while gardening, but the greatest marvel that I have ever learned is definitely the keyhole, and I thank you tremendously for that! Have a super week!

Ed said...

Back when I was a young boy, my parents always let me pick something from the seed catalog to plant. One year I chose peanuts. We planted them, they grew and I tended them all year long faithfully. In late fall I went to harvest them and I think found one small deformed peanut and thus ended my career as a peanut farmer.

tpals said...

Is Dan still planning another keyhole for you? I still think it's a beautiful structure as well as productive. Fascinating look at peanuts and rice.

Cockeyed Jo said...

yes, it was a very good year for seed stock.

Leigh said...

Wyomingheart, one of the sweet potatoes I grow could be considered a "white" I think. It's an heirloom variety called Nancy Hall. I grew those and Vardamans in the garden, but only Vardamans in the keyhole. I love sweet potato pie and the drier texture of the Nancy Hall's wasn't so great for that. But they certainly do pretty well.

Sorry to hear about your rice. Mine was a complete surprise!

Ed, I wonder if location was the reason. They grow them prodigiously in Georgia. This is actually my second year to try them. Last year was a different location and a different variety, but they didn't do well then.

Tpals, yes, Dan is planning another keyhole garden, although I don't think he's going to do the next one in brick. I reckon we'll all be surprised!

Jo, at least there's that. Better than a no-show failure.

Sandi said...

Inverted water bottle experiment? Ok, have to look at that!

Leigh said...

Sandi, pretty nifty, yes? I also like ollas. That blog post here.

Ed said...

Leigh - I'm guessing location, weather patterns and soil types all played a role. These days, most seed catalogs release seeds by zone or at least state zone hardiness. I don't think either were the case back then.

Goatldi said...

I remember Geoffrey growing peanuts when we lived on the west side of Fresno County. And I believe he grew them multiple seasons. The only thing that I can think is that we were more comparable at that time to the climate that they get in the south states. Because he also grew sugar beets with Geoff for 4H and those around us grew cotton there’s a lot of cotton produced in that area.
He enjoyed them raw although we did roast quite a bit in the oven and they turned out great.I remember him hanging them in the garage rafters to dry. Why he stopped growing them I don’t remember but I know he never grew them any place else that we lived either because it was a smaller garden or thought they wouldn’t grow in the new zones we lived in.

Leigh said...

Ed, I don't recall anyone growing sweet potatoes when I lived farther north. Still, you don't know unless you try!

Goatldi, peanuts, sugar beets, and cotton sure sound like you were in a growing area similar to ours. I'm thinking to get a significant harvest of peanuts would require a pretty good amount of land. Maybe a couple of handfuls for the year wasn't quite worth it.

LindaG said...

I've read about Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes. How are they for taste?
Your garden looks wonderful!
Be safe and God bless. :)

Leigh said...

Linda, hello and welcome! The Matt's tomatoes absolutely pop with flavor. This is the first year I've grown them, but they're a keeper from now on!

Nancy In Boise said...

We're hoping to add a keyhole garden to an existing round bed next spring, for strawberries, looks great! Congrats on the rice, that is so cool, never heard of anyone growing it on a small scale.

Leigh said...

Nancy, I can't praise the keyhole concept enough. So great for dry conditions. I just added more dry leaves and goat manure to the compost bin in mine. It decomposed really well and fed those sweet potatoes!

LindaG said...

Leigh, thank you for the recommendation. I think I will try them in my next garden.

Cockeyed Jo said...

Leigh, the no show failure was last year. Glad there wasn't a repeat.

Leigh said...

Jo, I've been having a few of those myself. Puzzling at the very least, but frustrating!