|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.|