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cristina@outlawgarden.com

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36 Comments

  1. Hi Cristina!

    I, too, registered my blog for this year’s Blogathon, and was wondering if you’d like to partner up for the guest exchange suggestion on May 14? I’m also a gardener/farmer of sorts, and I love the premise of Outlaw Garden. Your posts are super helpful, even to non-HOA owners!

    Rose

    Reply
  2. Hi Cristina,

    I noticed you grow your sweet potatoes in bushel baskets. Can you tell me how well the basket hold up from soil & water? Really like the look, not to mention the ease of moving the baskets whenever I want. Really like your site. My front yard would look better all in garden than it does right now. I live in Texas and we are in the middle of a serious drought. Needless to say, weeds and dirt is about the norm. Sadly, I love to garden, just gave up because of restricted watering and heat. Anyway, love the bushel basket idea.
    Thanks,
    Helen Johnson

    Reply
    • The bushel baskets lasted two seasons for me, but most had lost their bottoms by the end of the first season. If you’re looking for something that is safely portable, you may want to try a sturdier container. But, if you don’t mind the fact that you’ll need to replace the bushel baskets every couple of years (and can get by without mid-season portability), then the bushel baskets really are a charming choice for the garden. I retired all of mine last fall, and will definitely be replacing them this spring.

      Good luck with the garden! I’ve been reading about the Texas drought. Yikes!

      Reply
    • Hello Helen, an interesting site that I just ran into discusses the problem of lack of water. He lives in Sequim, WA (the Lavender Capital of North America) which interestingly is a farming area where irrigation is required because it is in a rain ‘shadow’ of the nearby Olympic Mountains and has about 16 inches annually. It is only 50-60 miles from the Hoh River Rainforest where annual rainfall is 12-15 feet annually. Anyway water is a problem for this farmer at: http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/ and he has some answers that I am considering for my dry Central California location.

      Reply
  3. LOVE. YOUR. BLOG.

    I so wish I could join the seed swap! I may have to do it in my town/church this Spring! : ) Thank you, thank you!

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing the link! It was great to meet you on Sunday, and I’m looking forward to the plant swap in May. Should be fun!

      Reply
  4. Hi, Cristina,
    Do you have any opinion about which edible flowers to grow in very alkaline soil in California’s hot Central Valley? I’m growing purslane and lamb’s quarters in containers but was thinking about daylilies in the front yard.
    Also, how are very large-leaved dandelions grown commercially (for green smoothies)?
    Rae

    Reply
    • I’m honestly not sure, Rae. You’re growing in a climate that is very different from my own — I’m in humid, clay-soiled Virginia — so I can’t offer any tips on hot and alkaline conditions. You might try asking around at local farmers markets. Most growers are happy to swap tips with curious customers. Among the edible flowers I know and/or have grown, a couple standouts are nasturtium, violas and other violets, borage and calendula. There are many other edible flowers as well. One thing: Be aware that only some day lilies are edible.

      Dandelions are another thing I haven’t tried. Again, I’d suggest talking directly with growers.

      Good luck and happy gardening!

      Reply
  5. I’m starting some sweet potatoe vines from cuttings. When I got them they had like small ants or some little pest. Have eaten holes in the leaves. Can you suggest what to do or how to deal with them? Is there a spray to use or something? Any help would be greatly appreciated:))
    LUV Your Site!! Pamela

    Reply
    • Hi Pamela —

      Although I’m sure other things might dine on sweet potato leaves, the only thing I’ve had trouble with are golden tortoise beetles (http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/veg/potato/golden_tortoise_beetle.htm). They do eat small round holes in the leaves, but don’t cause enough damage to affect the crop (they can in large numbers, but I’ve never had that large of an infestation). Honestly, I just ignore them. If you do want to spray (whether you’re dealing with these or some other pest) you might want to try either neem oil or a garlic-based spray. Both are organic, and both work well on a wide variety of insect pests. Good luck!

      Reply
  6. i am from india . i want to plant sweet potates in india give some suggestion.

    Reply
    • Hi Jenil — Since I grow my sweets in a very different climate (Mid-Atlantic United States), I can’t really offer suggestions for growing sweet potatoes in India. I’m sure it can be done, however. This post gives some general tips: http://www.outlawgarden.com/2012/04/25/grow-your-own-sweet-potatoes/. Otherwise, I’d suggest asking local farmers or gardeners for advice. Good luck!

      Reply
  7. My tomato plants were healthy and thriving ,plus they were loaded with many yellow flowers. Something happened and I only got 2 tomatoes. Anyway, what’s good to plant now for the fall? I live in a townhouse and would probably have to use containers. Thank you for any advice that you can give me.

    Reply
    • Hi Charlene — Traditional fall crops include anything that doesn’t mind a bit of a chill: lettuces and other greens, kale, cabbage, broccoli, peas, beets, etc. The best choice for you will depend on where you live. Here in USDA Zone 7a, it’s a bit too late for peas (which need time to grow and flower), but the timing is great for most everything else on that list. Good luck!

      Reply
  8. Thank you for your suggestions, I think that I will try lettuce because I live in Virginia and we still have some hot days to look forward to.

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  9. Hello and good morning Christina
    found your site and have enjoyed reading about your expierences with your sweet potatoes.
    I have discovered the purple sweet potatoes and I was wondering if you have tried growing them?
    I have one that sprouted on its own and have decided to try to grow these, which is how I found your site. I believe that since it is a sweet potato, it can be grown like all other sweet potatoes. 🙂 I decided to use cement blocks to make a raise bed for the potatoes. Any info you can send my way will be appreciated.

    Reply
    • Your assumption is correct! Purple sweet potatoes can be grown just like sweet potatoes of other colors. They tend to have a firmer and drier flesh, which makes them popular in savory dishes and stews. I imagine they’d make fantastic sweet potato fries too.

      You may also be interested in a project that I am just finishing up this weekend and hope to have available soon: my first e-book, which will be devoted to sweet potatoes. If you want to be alerted when the book is available, just sign up to the Outlaw Garden email list: http://eepurl.com/JQhy9.

      Good luck with your sweets!

      Reply
  10. Hi Christina,

    I’ve decided to remove my Dino Kale and use the flowering stalks along with the leaves. I’ve frozen the leaves before and dried a few to throw into soups, but not so sure about the blossoms. I’d like to save them to add to whatever and wondered if you’ve ever stored them and how. Any suggestions you have would be very helpful. 🙂

    Reply
    • I haven’t tried storing them yet — always end up eat them fresh. 🙂 My hunch would be that you could freeze the flower stalks and unopened buds just like the leaves, perhaps blanching them first. If you already have open flowers, maybe freeze some individual flowers in ice cubes for pretty drinks later?

      Reply
  11. Thanks for the ideas. The flowers are more like tiny broccolis, so I will definitely try freezing them for later. 🙂

    Reply
    • Mmm… Yes, that’s my favorite stage to pick them. You can cook them any way you’d cook broccoli or broccoli rabe (though they are milder than broccoli rabe). If you think of it, I’d love to hear how the freezing goes. Good luck!

      Reply
  12. Hi Christina!
    I was so glad to find your native bee house! I was trying to figure out how to make a nesting spot for carpenter bees and was getting discouraged because everyone wants to get rid of them! So thanks!
    You didn’t miss National Pollinator Week. It was being sponsored by the big corporations, Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, through Pollinator Partnership ; 🙁 …sad but true.
    There will be another celebration by grass roots organizations like Bee Against Monsanto, Moms Across America, Transition Movement, Friends of the Earth on August 16th, and its international! Please check it out!
    FaceBook: Swarm The Globe to Save the Bees!
    so glad to have found your website!

    Reply
    • Hi Christine — Thanks so much for the tip about the August 16 pollinator event! I’ll definitely check it out.

      As for the bee house, it’ll work great for cavity-dwelling bees (the mason bees, leaf-cutter bees) and some of our non-aggressive parasitic wasps (great beneficials for the garden), but not so much for carpenter bees. The reason is that carpenter bees chew their own holes into wood, while the rest of the cavity-nesting bees take advantage of holes that were bored by some previous occupant. If you’re trying to attract carpenter bees, you might have better luck with raw wood. They seem to prefer something rather chunky, so maybe some log rounds? If you have large enough logs, you could drill out some holes on one end for the other bees, and leave the other end undrilled in hopes the carpenter bees find it. Good luck, and happy gardening!

      Reply
  13. Thank you so much for getting back to me!
    Regarding August 16th, I am sure there is a Swarm event someplace near you. Hope you can find them! 🙂
    Thanks for the tip about the Carpenter bees…that explains why everyone wants to get rid of them…:-(
    They have been trimming trees on my street this week so I am going to see if I can grab some green wood.
    I have a Mason bee house but no Mason bees…I just moved it again in hopes that some show up. I have so many wild bees coming around that are native that I should be able to attract something!
    Going to check out your sweet potato guide too.
    Thanks for the tip!
    Christine

    Reply
    • Wondering why my sweet potato’s came up in one big cluster no separate sweets?

      Reply
      • I’m not really sure, Judy. It was just one big sweet potato? That’s not something I’ve seen before. I wonder if you just had a funky plant for some reason. Did all your plants do this, or just one of them?

        Reply
  14. PLEASE HELP!! I have to bore you just a bit to explain..I live in Turkey, have Mediterranean climate. Returned from the States last December with a couple sweet potatoes hidden in my bag. Put them in water as you described, one has a slip with two leaves, the other is “trying”. For some reason they don’t grow sweets here but I found a company that grows (?) or sells sweet potatoes at $15 a kilo!!! I ordered a kilo and got TWO HUGE I mean HUGE potatoes..they are big and long and I can’t tell which end is the bottom!! They are so precious that I don’t want to mess up. How about I cut BOTH ends and see what happens? Do you think there is a possibility that I may get TWO plants growing? Please help out. Thanks for being there.

    Reply
  15. I am asking for many of my friends. They don’t speak English, and their HOA don’t allow them to grow vegetable at their front yard or back yard. I have shared your growing-guidline and tips with them, but they are still worry. Do you have any suggestion? How about a letter to HOA, would that help? Can you or someone help us by writing the letter?

    Reply
    • A letter would be a good place to start. Or even a conversation with the HOA. Perhaps they’d be willing to let your friends grow a few plants as a test this year. Good luck!

      Reply
  16. I live in just outside of Chicago. My sweet potato (beaugard) leafs were still green when I harvest them. Yet they were in the ground for 120 days. Is that good or bad? Also I have my sweet potatoes curing in the barn with a small electric heater (not blowing directly on them) as we are starting to get nights in the high 50’s . Should I turn the potatoes once in awhile?
    Thank you, FF Jim

    Reply
    • Good. 🙂 Unlike regular potatoes (no relation), sweet potatoes don’t die back at the end of the season. They are actually perennial plants, so they just keep happily growing until frost zaps them. You can honestly harvest them at any time, but approximately 100 days is generally the sweet spot for most varieties. For storage, just make sure they don’t get zapped by temperatures below 55 or so. They really don’t like to get cold.

      Reply
  17. I’m new to the sweet potato game. My was pretty good for my first time growing Beaugard brand. My question is at what size do you keep (my primary was the size of a football) is that to big to cook? And I got twenty that were 1 inch around by 6 inches, do I cure them or throw them out? The rest were normal, regular size sweet potatoes.
    Thank you,
    Jim

    Reply
    • That’s a big sweet potato, Jim! Congratulations! You’ve probably already discovered that you can cook and eat sweets at all sizes. I’d suggest cutting up the biggest ones, just to make the cooking time more reasonable. But, they should taste just as good as the “normal” sized ones. Likewise, the smaller sweets are great for chopping up and tossing into soups or roasting with other chopped root vegetables.

      Reply
  18. Hi, I’d gotten vine cuttings from my sister in Chicago—brought them home with me to Ca & they had been in a glass with water & paper towel—by the time we got home (drove 4 days) I had roots on the vines—they are green & purple. I planted them in loose potting soil & they have thrived —makes a beautiful house plant—but today I’m noticing small webs & whiteish dots on some leaves. I’m assuming some sort of “bug” What do I do & can you keep this plant as a house plant & not get potatoes??? will it continue to grow OK?? Our soil here is not good —& up till now we’ve had 90’s & 100 degrees days so one day I’d put the plant outside on my covered patio —but after 5 hrs or so it was droopy– so back inside. what do you recommend for the “bugs” thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Hmm… That sounds like it might be whiteflies (a somewhat common houseplant pest), but I’m not certain. A good spray of soapy water will often do the trick with soft-bodied insects.

      Reply

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