Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

October, 2001
Regional Report

Shows & Events

Quail Botanic Garden Plant Sale
Choose among drought-tolerant plants, including rare and unusual ones propagated from the collection at the Quail Botanic Garden. The event includes demonstrations and sales (books, tools, crafts, food). While you are there, be sure to tour the grounds (especially if you haven't been there in a couple of years). There are truly impressive plant areas around every bend.

Quail Botanical Gardens, 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas. For more information, call (760) 436-3036.

October 20-21. Saturday, 1-4pm; Sunday 9am-4pm.

Favorite or New Plant

White and Sweet Potatoes
I can't get enough of my homegrown 'tatoes. The delicately-flavored, tender niblets of white potatoes, harvested soon after the vines began to sag, were heavenly, sauteed whole with just a bit of butter, parsley, leek, and rosemary. Now that they're mature, they'll keep a lot longer -- still in the ground or in the larder -- ready at a moment's notice for more dramatic seasoning. Sweet potatoes, on the other hand, need time and more attentive storage to develop their flavor.

Harvest potatoes now, being careful not to cut or bruise them, or leave them in the soil for harvest through the winter. Take care to not expose them to sunlight or soil cracks, however, or they'll develop inedible, bitter green areas. (After off cutting these areas and discarding them, the remaining potato can be eaten.) After harvest, hold the potatoes at 75 to 85 degrees for a week, and then store them at 50 to 60 degrees with high humidity. They should keep for six to fifteen weeks. Refrigerating them at 36 to 40 degrees will turn some of the starch into sugar, making them taste oddly sweet and darken during cooking.

Harvest sweet potatoes when the vines yellow. Try to get them before the leaves are killed by frost. Air dry them for a day, keep them at 85 to 90 degrees with 90 to 95 percent humidity for one to two weeks, and then store them at 55 to 60 degrees and 90 to 95 percent humidity. The flavor improves during storage, as part of the starch content turns into sugar (what you didn't want to happen with the white potatoes).


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