Harvest Monday, September 24, 2012 + Asian Pears & Sweet Potatoes Damage

This past week was not one of the better harvest weeks.

Went to the garden carrying a basket to harvest some Asian pears and came face to face with the above sight (this is just a portion of what is on the ground). Also this sight on the right. Yes, this pear is still hanging on the tree and so are many more partially eaten ones.

The week before the tree was laden with pears. I was looking forward to a good harvest so I could share with friends.

Who is the culprit? Could chipmunks do this much damage? Did the deer get into the garden? The birds? Squirrels?

I did salvage a few but they were not the best looking ones nor the big juicy ones. Those were taken.


Decided to start dig in some sweet potatoes. Imagine my surprise when I came across this hole (above photo) and noticed the vines were not attached to any sweet potato. There were many more holes in the same patch and the vines were in the same conditions.

I knew something was digging and eating the sweet potatoes.

The past few weeks I have come across small tunnels and a few partially eaten sweet potatoes, but surely they would leave me some.

They left me some all right (these were actually very good size sweet potatoes).

Was so upset I did not bother to gather any of the tender vines for cooking.

Am going to dig the other sweet potato patch this week, hopefully the scenery is a prettier one. Will gather the tender vines before I start to dig, just in case.

I thought last year was bad (more than ¼ of the sweet potatoes were partially eaten) but this year is worse. I think last year’s critters returned with not only the family but relatives as well. Next year am going to plant my sweet potatoes in large container. Will this keep away the critters or will they climb up and in?

How do farmers manage?????

The Brussels sprouts plant is gorgeous looking, but for some reason, no Brussels sprouts formed this year. This is the first time where I have zero Brussels sprouts. Was this due to the extended heat wave we had over the summer? Must do some research to find the answer. I do see some tiny, tiny ones starting to form so will leave the plants and see what happens.

Bittermelons yellowing (about 1 dozen) at the baby stage (the one at top in the basket is a mature green bittermelon). Is this due to the low night time temperature (40’s) we are experiencing? Both green and white were doing so well.

This blue hubbard squash plant finally decided to set fruit. It is too late in the season but will leave the plant and fruit to continue to grow until frost is in the forecast. Maybe the immature squash will make for a “summer-like” eating squash.

The other blue hubbard plant has one fruit which I think (hope) will mature.

For the large amount of real estate these plants occupy and the meager yield, this is a NO for next year.

There is a happy ending.

Harvest the above beauty. A 5+ pounds pumpkin. It is a volunteer so no idea what variety it is. Maybe a sugar pumpkin. Do sugar pumpkins get this big?

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Visit Daphne’s Dandelions http://daphnesdandelions.blogspot.com/ for more Harvest Mondays

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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77 Responses to Harvest Monday, September 24, 2012 + Asian Pears & Sweet Potatoes Damage

  1. It’s a shame the harvest was not as desired this time my friend, but hey, that pumpkin is a beauty 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  2. Always frustrating when ‘nature’ has other plans to what we want. All of a sudden I feel like pumpkin pie!
    🙂 Mandy

  3. Annie says:

    Oh Norma, this is heartbreaking… must find out the culprit to impose a solution for next year…perhaps fence off the garden?? But I still think you are so fortunate to have a fruit bearing Asia Pear tree …I’m sure you’ll be given more fruits next year to compensate for this year’s 🙂

  4. Patsy says:

    Oh it is so frustrating when your efforts are stymied by critters! It looks like you have voles who travel through tunnels and eat roots or pull the plants under. I have those, but they’ve been quiet this year. If you plant your sweet potatoes in containers they should be safe. My brussels sprouts did exactly the same as yours; big healthy plants, almost no sprouts and the ones there are are teeny-tiny. You have a gorgeous pumpkin there!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Patsy,
      Did you find out why the Brussels sprouts failed to form this year? Thanks for the sweet potatoes in container info. I will definitely do so next year. The pumpkin is just beautiful, I will be admiring it for a long while.

  5. Diana says:

    Sorry to hear your share of the Asian pears was badly taken by something. I got unlucky this year with sweet potatoes too, 3 containers grown sweet potatoes were demolished by mice and the mice even made that container as it nest. Pretty Pumpkin :).

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Diana,
      I was sad, but got over the loss. Sorry about your sweet potatoes. Mice getting into sweet potatoes containers? I am planning to grow my sweet potatoes in container next year, hope I will not need to deal with mice in the container.

  6. A woodchuck? They can climb. A raccoon family? They are all busy fattening up for winter. I’d expect deer to leave bigger, flatter bites.

    BTW I use late setting winter squashes in stir-fries.

  7. kitsapfg says:

    That is some serious critter damage. Could be any number of pests. I would be quite peeved. To answer your question… I often get sugar pie pumpkins that weigh in at 5+ pounds and it certainly looks like one.

  8. hotlyspiced says:

    The pumpkin is amazing and looks fantastic but it was so sad to see your pears and kumeras. Who or what is eating them? xx

  9. Daphne says:

    Oh how sad. I’d grow the sweet potatoes in a pot and put hardware cloth over the top to keep out the critters. We have so many cats in the neighborhood that mice would be hard pressed to take up such an obvious residence. I do find dead mice occasionally on our patio. A gift from the cats. I do swear at them every time one uses my garden as a bathroom though. I have to keep any patch of bare soil covered. It is always a challenge. And so sad about the Asian pears.

    If I can get my sweet potatoes to store over the winter, I can send you back some slips. That way at least you won’t lose your varieties.

  10. Shawn Ann says:

    oh how disappointing! I would be so frustrated! The pumpkin is beautiful though! I had a critter eat our watermelons. Thinking squirrel or chipmunk cause that is what I see the most. Could be anything though.

  11. I saw the first picture in my reader and thought : oh no! the deers really went overboard this time!
    so sorry for all the damaged pears and the potatoes Norma, it must be such a big disappointment

  12. Toni Kellers says:

    What a shame , Norma. But Praise the Lord for Volunteers! This summer I mulched my herb garden with the decomposed hay bales from last year’s Hay bale garden. All of the weed seeds had be “eaten” by decomposition – right? Yes, but the tomato seeds that landed in them had not, so my herb garden was loaded with cherry tomato plants! I dug them up and gave them away at the farm market, but one man scorned them, saying “they cross-breed and are no good”. Well, a friend sold many pints of “scorned” cherry tomatoes this summer and made nice bit of money from them!
    Rhinebeck is on the horizon – Toni

  13. dvelten says:

    Sorry about the pears and potatoes. The pears could be deer or raccoons. The sweet potatoes were probably damaged by voles. Voles are very hard to control since they reproduce so quickly. Putting your potatoes in pots should work, just make sure any opening at the bottom is screened. You could also try surrounding the bed with quarter inch mesh galvanized hardware cloth buried at least ten inches down, then till the inside of the bed to disturb the tunnels and hopefully drive off any voles still there. I have had the same experience with Brussels sprouts. You could try topping the plant to see if it will pit its energy into the buds.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Dvelten,
      I think it is raccoons eating the pears. Thanks for the advice on voles and Brussels sprouts. I went and topped the plants today, hopefully I will get something, it may be too late though.

  14. Bad luck to lose so many sweet potatoes and pears just when you were anticipating enjoying them.

  15. Michelle says:

    Oh what heartbreak! I am so sorry to see that. You are taking it with such grace, the air would have turned blue had that been in my garden. I hope you have much better luck next year.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Michelle,
      Next year will be a better year. Wondered if these critters know something we human are not aware of, meaning we are in for a brutal winter, reason they are busy fattening themselves. Something to think about.

  16. OMG, your pears! Those are my favorite, so I’m disappointed for you.

  17. Wow, you did have a bad harvest and bad luck. So incredibly disheartening to tend such a beautiful garden and have it molested like that…so sorry. But indeed, the sugar pumpkin is picture perfect and at least put a smile on my face for you! 🙂

  18. Every summer my mom battles with the deer in her garden at the lake. They found a machine that emits a sound only deer can hear.. and teenagers! The neighbor’s kids were so upset that she had to turn the machine off. I believe it did work though. I hope you have better luck next time, it is so emotional to go and see those pears like that!! xx

  19. Oh my. I am so sorry about all the food the critters ate. I don’t know how farmers do it, either.

  20. Kristy says:

    Love that pumpkin! So colorful. 🙂 I’m sorry about all the food loss with the animals. I wonder what got into those pears! They sure enjoyed themselves.

  21. mac says:

    Sorry about the critter damage, hopefully next year will be a better year for you.
    My bittermelon is not doing much either, it’s very small and not growing at all, you might be right about the low night temp.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Mac,
      Yep, next year will be a much better year. If your baby bittermelon is not turning yellow, I think there is a good chance they will grow once the weather warms up a bit.

  22. Oh man…I’m sorry to hear it’s been such a hard week in the garden! I am glad to see you have yourself a beautiful pumpkin, though! Sometimes it’s the volunteers that makes us the happiest right when we need it 🙂

  23. Jenny says:

    I’m sorry you’re having so much hard time with critters 😦

  24. Wilderness says:

    Norma sorry about the critters but I share your disappointment. I can’t get Brussels Sprouts to grow to any size unless I cut the top off the plant in August. I sometimes also strip some of the leaves and I have great spouts this year. Just waiting for the frost to hit them.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Wilderness,
      I did not know about cutting off the top of the Brussels sprouts, but I had sprouts previous years. How much do I need to cut off? Will do that next year, thanks for the info.

  25. Sophie33 says:

    Oooh that’s such a shame ofr your own home grown produce! A good friend of my father, who also has a big garden, always says abou his produce: 1 third is for the animals, one third is for God & one third is for me! 😉 xxx

  26. I have to show the ponytails your pumpkin tonight — they will be very impressed. I just saw a great recipe with fresh pumpkin and I’m trying to remember where it was … I’m thinking that you can have a lot of fun cooking that beauty. Sorry it was such a disappointing harvest this week Norma.

  27. ChgoJohn says:

    Aw, Norma. How very disappointing! As I’ve mentioned, I’ve grown accustomed to “sharing” my tomatoes with the squirrels and raccoons but your garden was pillaged. I do hope you find some answers for next year. We can do nothing about the heat but there must be some, “green” method to discourage these pests. I know if I learn of any, I’ll be sure to send it your way.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello John,
      I was very upset when I first encountered the sight, but then I thought about the many great harvests I have been enjoying so far this year, especially the figs, calmed down and moved on. Next year will be a better year.

  28. Wow Norma – those are some serious critters chomping on your pears! I really wonder what they are!

  29. Kiran says:

    Oh wow. I’m so sorry for the loss of so many produce to critters or any mischievous creatures out there.

  30. Well darn those critters! They sure did have a feast, didn’t they? Your pumpkin is quite a beauty!

  31. That pumpkin is picture perfect. So sad about the other stuff. It’s no wonder that commercial farmers feel the need to spray everything.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Maureen,
      The pumpkin is sitting on my kitchen counter where I can admire it. Really do not want to cut into it, but with so many pumpkin recipes apperaing on blogs, I will have to cut into it to make the dishes.

  32. junglefrog says:

    O boy, I can understand your frustrations Norma! I would not be amused if I found first my pears and then next my sweet potatoes all eaten. I fear it would not be much different here if we would plant more veggies in the garden (which we are planning to do) as we have a lot of birds and snails that like to munch along with us. O well, that pumpkin looks amazing!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Simone,
      I got over my disappointment, next year I just have to harvest all the fruits early instead of harvesting as needed.
      The pumpkin is beautiful, wish I had your photographing skills to make a gorgeous photo.

  33. mkriegh says:

    Amazing you got a pumpkin! It was a bad season for pumpkins in the valley. Apparently, the extended warm wave we had in the spring caused all the flowers to drop too quickly and there was very little pollination to produce fruit. Only if you planted them too early in the spring did you miss that.

  34. Charles says:

    Oh no! How sad… it must make you feel so down when you see that! I’m amazed about the brussels sprouts though… how strange! Beautiful, tall stalks, with not a single sprout sight! It’s like they didn’t even attempt to start sprouting! How bizarre.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Charles,
      I was sad initially, but got over it. It is suggested that I top the Brussels sprouts plant in August, will try that next year. Did top the plants recently but think it is too late.

  35. Ouch, those creatures do feel as they own the harvest, don’t they? Sorry… Pumpkin is lovely though.

  36. Eva Taylor says:

    Well at least the critters left you half! ;)!
    We’re back from our two-plus weeks in Europe and it was great. Although its always nice to sleep in one’s own bed. I’ll be posting about our lovely vaycay soon.

  37. Ginny says:

    Hi Norma,
    Too bad about your sweet potatoes!! That sparked me to dig mine up today (planted one each of 5 varieties this year – got the sweet potato slips from Mary after I took her veggie gardening class in the spring). Since I never got the deer fence put up, we planted them in 5 large pots and set them here and there in a flower garden border near the driveway. No critter problems until this week, when either the deer or the groundhog started devouring the vines. Being planted in the pots, the sweet potatoes themselves weren’t very big and some were all twisted around one another – made for some very strange shapes! Some are the size of fingerling potatoes but a few are normal size sweet potatoes. Anxious to “cure” them so they sweeten up and we’ll try them in a few recipes this fall and winter. Was relatively happy with this first attempt at growing sweet potatoes.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Ginny,
      Next year I am planting my sweet potatoes in containers. Which of the 5 varieties did well for you?

      • Ginny says:

        None of my sweet potatoes were exceptionally large – perhaps I should have let them grow a bit longer or perhaps they didn’t get enough water during dry spells — not sure; all were grown in compost that we had made so the soil was rich.. As to taste, I’ll have to let you know once I’ve cooked them. But for now, the various colors are interesting and make for a nice variety.And, I can be thankful the critters didn’t eat them before I harvested them. Varieites I tried: Frazier White: all were thin, fingerling size; Korean Purple: had 2 normal size and the rest were thin, fingerling size; Purple: most were thin, fingerling size and slightly better yield than the others; Lace Leaf: only a few, but better size to them, but the tops of a couple are sort of green – perhaps because they were at the soil surface and needed to be covered with more soil; Georgia Jet – had the most that were medium to regular size,might be the best of my varieties as far as yield and size. I’m guessing that all of the sweet potato varieties should have been bigger than they were, but I’m hoping that they will still be tasty.

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Ginny,
        Georgia Jet is the sweet potato for growing in our area, it is the variety we grow at Locust Grove every year and does very well there. I personally do not like the texture of Georgia Jet reason I do not grow it. This year we are eperimenting at LG and planted 4 varieties – Georgia Jet, Purple, Frazier White and Laceleaf. Will do a comparison when we harvest.

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