More Sweet Potatoes

We planted 7 sweet potato plants last autumn, 4 in large pots in the garden, and 3 directly into raised beds. The pots were not successful, the chickens ate the vines of 2 pots, and they didn’t produce anything. The 2 other pots flourished, but I turned them out too soon, t’internet said I’d have kilos and kilos after 4 months.  Both had 2 reasonable sized tubers ( 6 inches long and 3 inches wide) and 4 or 5 tiny tubers. Rather deceptively, the larger tubers were at the top and the tiny ones at the bottom, so I fooled myself into thinking that they were all of a reasonable size. They’d been growing for 6 months, so longer than the recommended time for huge crops – don’t believe everything you read on Pinterest!

The potatoes in the raised beds are doing much better, the vines are spreading through the beds, especially now we’ve pulled up the tomatoes and courgettes, and are putting out runners, which will produce new plants and new tubers. The potatoes are growing near to the surface and are a good size. Below is one I picked this morning, with my flip flop for perspective (UK size 6). I’ll record how many I get, this one weighed 450gms, and I picked another that weighted 250 grams that was poking through the soil.

The pots were planted out last November and harvested end of April. The one’s in the beds were planted in January. We had pretty cold nights (12 degrees C 🙂 – it’s all relative) right until the end of Feb, so maybe it’s the warmer weather rather than the raised beds that have allowed these plants to do so well – they seem to be thriving in the 40+ heat.

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Grow your own – update

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The raised beds are doing well, we have Roma and beef tomatoes, peppers, chillis, butternut squash, pumpkins, courgettes, sweetcorn, sweet potatoes, garlic and various herbs (I’m not even mentioning aubergines although they continue to grow profusely!). The big disappointment this year has been beans – they just won’t grow, get to about 12 inches then keel over and die. We have 2 broad bean plants that have survived and flowered, but haven’t produced any beans.

The figs and pomegranates are ripe and we’re harvesting them almost daily, bananas are ripening and the citrus trees have tiny oranges and lemons just starting. The mangos didn’t flower after all the shocking we gave then, so looks like we’ll have to wait another year to eat fresh homegrown mangos. The photo above is a small clump of sugar cane which is almost ready to harvest, we don’t use a lot of sugar, but it’s nice to be able to produce our own cane juice, which I’ll be using for the next batch of fermented ginger beer.

 

Update:-

One of the mango trees finally flowered and we had about 5 fronds of blossoms, each eventually had approx 10 fruit buds, unfortunately a storm in April blew most of those off and we are left with 2 fruits. Let’s hope they survive to ripen.

Growing things in the desert – veggies

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I love winter in Abu Dhabi, the days are warm and sunny and the evenings cool, enough to need a sweater ( for me, at least -Tom is still in short sleeved T shirts).

But what I love most about winter is that we can grow our own food, without any chemicals. We have raised beds, pots and vegetables growing under trees. We have lots of trees!

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These are 3 of our raised beds, and we are experimenting. Our neighbour claims that the soil here ( um, what soil?) is really good for growing vegetables, all it needs is some natural fertiliser now and again. So we have one bed that is just local soil with the addition of farmyard ( goat) manure. We have another bed which is filled with our homemade compost mixed with some locally bought compost. We’ve mulched around the plants to retain moisture in this bed.  We’ve planted the same plants (almost) in each bed so that we can compare. and so far the local bed is lagging far behind.  The only thing that is growing well is garlic, whereas in the ‘western’ bed, everything is at least 3 times the size of the local bed one month after planting. Now, it maybe that the slower growth will lead to a longer growing season, who knows – we’ll report back in a few months.

The third bed also has our compost and a frame for  growing vertically.   We planted runner beans, French beans, pumpkins, butternut squash,  and sweet potato vines. All of the beans have died, both transplants and seeds sown directly into the ground. I’ve replanted time and again and they all die at about 12 inches tall 😦  I’ve decided to give up trying as it’s obviously too dry for them and have now been replaced with cucumbers and honeydew melons, which are just about an inch tall so far, so you can’t really see them in the photo. We’ll update on progress.