Sweet Potato Harvest AND A Misadventure Of My New Sweet Potato Adventure

The largest of my sweet potatoes.

The sun was already up and scorching hot when I started to work on my front yard planter the other day. 

I was holding an umbrella with one hand and using a pair of scissors to remove the sweet potato vines with the other hand, when an elderly neighbour came up to me and suggested, " It's so very hot now, dear! Why don't you do all these in the evening? Or very early in the morning instead? "

" Oh, Auntie! " I said, tilting my umbrella a bit, to look up at her, who was looking down at me. " I wanted to. But I just find it hard to wake up very early in the morning. And I'm afraid I'd miss the chance to do all these if it rains in the evening. "

" You know, I've promised my siblings that I'll make sweet soup with these sweet potatoes for them on Chinese New Year day, " I explained.

" So, I must dig them all up now since I don't think I'd have the time to do so after today. As I've got to travel back to KL early morning tomorrow. And would likely be able to come back on the eve of Chinese New Year only, " I explained further, still looking up at her.

After hearing my explanation, she nodded her head, as a gesture of understanding, and said, " Oh, I see! I'm not disturbing you then. Hope you have a great harvest, dear! " 

Then, off she went, back to her own house, which is only two houses away from mine.

So, on I continued, removing the sweet potato vines with the pair of scissors in one hand. Bit by bit. Until finished. Then, I had all the vines dragged into my shaded car porch area. So that they won't wilt so fast. Immediately after that, I had all the leaves harvested from the vines with the same pair of scissors. I sorted them as I cut. The tender ones, I put into one plastic bag while the old, tough ones into the other. When finished, I kept the bag with the tender leaves inside my fridge for later stir fry use while the bag with the old leaves was emptied into my compost bin. Previously, I had all ' balded ' vines laid back onto my planter to mulch the soil around newly-planted stem cuttings. But they just rooted so very easily, even after they seemed somewhat dehydrated, that I had to spent much time weeding them out later. A lesson learnt. So, this time, I had them all discarded instead. After I had eight strong stems of about six to eight inches each cut out from them for later planting use. 

When all the vines were completely ' managed ', I gulped down two glasses of water to replenish my body's water loss due to excessive sweat earlier. Then, off I went again, under the hot sun, to my front yard planter, with the umbrella in one hand and a big spoon this time in the other. Gently and bit by bit, I searched for the sweet potatoes below the soil surface. Not an inch of my planter area escaped my search. Finally, I had a bountiful of various sizes sweet potatoes, dug up. I was so very tired. My hands sore. But my heart was singing with joy inside. Though, I did have the feeling of guilt inside me, to have unintentionally disturbed and hurt many creepy crawlies like earthworms, insects and larvae that were living inside the soil during all the searching and diggings, it was somehow, insignificant to have my happy feeling suppressed. I felt no less happy! Oh, but how could I, when some creatures ( creepy crawlies ) were obviously suffering because of all my searching and diggings? 

And finally, when the whole planter was cleared of everything ( the vines, the sweet potatoes and the weeds ), I planted all the eight sweet potato stem cuttings ( which I had earlier cut out from the unwanted vines ) evenly into the soil of the planter and had them all thoroughly watered. I did not have to root them in advance. My past experiences convinced me that they would all grow for sure! They are super easy crops, or so I have always thought! 

But then, who would have thought that my neighbours' CATS could easily ruin them overnight? And who would have thought that they would fancy using my clean, loose-soiled and not-mulched planter as their ideal TOILET??? And oh, even if they wanted to make my planter their toilet, how could they so carelessly trample on my newly-planted stem cuttings, just to get to the middle of the planter to defecate while I was sound asleep!!!

My sweet potato harvest.


It is that time of year again! Mum's favourite fruit ( also mine too, of course ), the rambutan, is in season! 

Predictably, my eyes became wide open and my mouth watered, at the sight of the many beautiful bunches of familiar red, hairy-skinned fruits ( the rambutans ) that were almost everywhere on the decades-old, homegrown Rambutan Tree ( Nephelium lappaceum ), that greeted me as the GrabCar that I had my ride in from the KTM station, pulled into the compound of our old family home yesterday afternoon. 

The instance I hopped off the car, with my knapsack still on my back, I skipped, most excitedly like a child, towards the tree. Before long, I had bunches of the fruits brought down to the ground. And it was right then and there, under the shade of the good, old Rambutan Tree, that I had my very mini rambutan fruit fest. Alone. As both my two older brothers ( Big Bro and Second Bro ), who might possibly want to join me then, were not at home. 

In my heart, I knew, if mum was still around, she would have advised me not to pick them then, for the sun was already up and scorching hot. So, the fruits would not taste their best. But like always, I found it extremely difficult to wait until the exact right time. I would rather surrender to a milder taste and less juicier fruits. The temptation of those sweet, juicy, translucent, fleshy bites beneath those red, hairy skins was far too great for me to resist. They seemed to be calling out to me to savour them all immediately. 

Oh, Mum, it was ever difficult to follow your advice! I just COULD NOT, not then, at least!!!

Finally, some sweet potatoes were harvested and enjoyed in sweet ginger soup ...

The Sweet Potato ( Ipomoea batatas ) vines are growing exceptionally lush these days at my front yard. Every time I look at them, my pair of hands would " itch ". Wanting to dig some ( sweet potatoes ) up right away. But my rational mind always hold them back, " Wait a while more. So that they are better and bigger. "

Finally yesterday, at four months from the time of planting, it decided not to hold my pair of hands back. So, down they freely went, digging into the soil around the bases of the vines, feeling for the enlarged roots ( sweet potatoes ).

They did not take very long. Within minutes, they managed to find and get three, beautiful, plump roots ( sweet potatoes ) up. Enough for me to cook in brown sugar and ginger soup for six people this morning. YUM YUM! 

The rest of them ( the sweet potatoes ) were spared and allowed to continue growing down there. Until, perhaps, this coming February, during the Chinese New Year. When again, my pair of hands would be allowed to freely search for and dig them ( the sweet potatoes ) up. For another sweet soup treat, which hopefully, would be enough to satisfy, or perhaps, just " tease " the taste buds of more people. 😀

new year, new plants and new, new hopes

Other than the " false ' scare of Fourth Sis's ovarian cancer recurrence that troubled me at the very start of 2019, everything else that matters to me are fine and well, and full of hopes. My small backyard garden in Ipoh is no exception.

New edibles ( herbs ) like Aloe Vera ( Aloe vera ), Chilli ( Capsicum annuum ), Curry Tree ( Murraya koenigii ) and Kafir Lime ( Citrus hystrix ) which I had either grown from fragile cuttings or seedlings at the end of last year, have all adapted comfortably to their new homes at my backyard. Or so they seem.

The seemingly dead and hopeless cuttings of my poor ornamental pink Air Mata Pengantin or Bride's Tears or Chain of Love or Coral Vine or Mexican Creeper ( Antigonon leptopus ) and my multi-coloured Lantana ( Lantana camara ) which I had planted sometime back in pot planters at my backyard, have all suddenly, surprisingly sprung back to life and shown signs of good growths. 

Seeing them all thriving happily at my small backyard garden gives me the best of consolations and hopes I need. Especially during those days when I feared Fourth Sis would leave me forever. 😀