Harvest Monday. September 15, 2014 – Smooth-skin Luffa + Purple Sweet Potato + Windowbox Bok Choy + Okinawan Sweet Potato

Not much harvest this past week and not much garden chores got done as I had company and was out-of-town for a few days.

My daughter and son-in-law came for a short but very fun visit. Among the things we did were to check out the cats at Cat’n Around Catskill 2014 in the Village of Catskill, NY, and the Snoopy & Belle In Fashion at the New Museum, NYC. Will post about them at a later date.

Did harvest some leeks, orange & purple carrots and my first smooth skin luffa.

leeks, carrots & luffa (06742)

Leeks, Orange Carrots, Purple Carrots & Smooth-skin Luffa

Gave the leeks and carrots to my daughter and son-in-law to take home with them.

The smooth-skin luffa is the first for the season and may be the last as it appears the cold weather has arrived and I doubt the baby luffas are going to grow much, I may remove the plant this week.

smooth-skin luffa cross section (06744)

Smooth-skin Luffa Cross Section

Should have harvested the luffa a few days earlier. See the space between the skin and flesh, this indicates the luffa has past its prime, still edible. Made a soup but was very disappointed. The luffa was bitter. Did not enjoy so tossed it out. Not sure why it was bitter.

For culinary purposes, immature smooth-skin luffa and angled luffa are interchangeable. I do prefer the angled luffa over the smooth-skin luffa but my angled luffa seeds failed to germinate so did not grow any this year. To learn about angled luffa and recipes click here.

DSC03601editp copy

Angled Luffa

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Went to gather some sweet potato vines/leaves for dinner Thursday afternoon and noticed something poking out of the ground, upon close inspection realized it was a purple sweet potato. I was so excited, my first purple sweet potato! Did not have my trowel so rocked and tugged and got it out of the ground, saw another one, pulled that one also. Rushed back to the kitchen to weigh and take photos of my first purple sweet potatoes. Hope there are many more underground.

Oops, I forgot to gather the vines/leaves, did not feel like going out to the garden again so no sweet potato leaves for dinner that night.

purple sweet potato (06752)

Purple Sweet Potato
The larger one weighed in at about ¾ pounds the smaller one about 6 ounces

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Early July I received a gift of 2 rooting Okinawan sweet potato slips from Angie of The Novice Gardener. Do check out Angie’s blog. You will enjoy perusing her posts and her story telling style. She is a blogger of many talents: fantastic photographer who creates mouth watering dishes that are like pieces of art. Many of the dishes are created using produce she grows.

Knowing I will not have sufficient growing days for tubers to form (Okinawan sweet potatoes need 130-140 days to form edible tubers) decided to grow them in 2 foam ice chests, when the night time temperature drops too low I will bring the ice chests into the garage and take them out during the days, hoping by doing so I will get some tubers.

Okinawan sweet potato (06547)

Okinawan Sweet Potato slips after 30 days

Okinawan sweet potato (06754)

Okinawan Sweet Potato slips after 80 days

It is mid-September, if we remain frost free until the end of October and the weather stays warm there is a good chance I will get tubers, fingers crossed.

Okinawan sweet potato flower (06755)

Okinawan Sweet Potato Flower

◊ ◊ ◊

Swiss chards in both the garden and window box are doing surprisingly well this year so decided to pull up the ones I planted on April 14 in the window box and transplanted some bok choy into the same box (after enriching the potting mix).

bok choy (06747Bok Choy in Window Box

There are definitely too many bok choy seedlings in the window box. I will be harvesting every other plant as they reach usable stage or as soon as there are signs of overcrowding giving the remaining plants room to grow and mature.

…   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …   …  …   … 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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53 Responses to Harvest Monday. September 15, 2014 – Smooth-skin Luffa + Purple Sweet Potato + Windowbox Bok Choy + Okinawan Sweet Potato

  1. Eva Taylor says:

    I wondered about planting in the styrofoam ice chests; aren’t you worried about chemicals from the styrofoam? Does the foam insulate enough? Thinking about doing garlic that way, so I’d appreciate your input.
    The purple sweet potato is gorgeous, does it taste differently than the orange kind! The leeks also look incredible, so much tender white parts.
    Glad you had a fun visit with your daughter and son-in-law.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Eva,
      I had concerns about using styrofoam ice chests as a planter and did some internet searches for answers, apparently it is safe. Regarding using to plant garlic, I don’t think it would insulate against your winter temp. outdoor unprotected. Let me give this some thoughts and have some suggestions for you at a later date.
      The purple sweet potato I plant has a drier texture and a bit nutty flavor. You can get purple sweet potato at T&T in Toronto.

      • Eva Taylor says:

        I love T&T! We have a relatively new one at the foot of Cherry Street.

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Eva,
        Glad you have a T&T nearby.
        About growing garlic in foam ice chest, were you thinking of planting in October or early next year? You may have better luck planting mid/end of Feb or early March this will hopefully give the garlic sufficient cold period. If you want to experiment, plant one ice chest in the fall (place it in a protective area in the garden during the harsh winter months) and plant another one next year to make comparison. Make sure your garlic cloves were not treated with growth retardant. Write if you have questions.

  2. We are having some challenges at the farm I work on also. Blight took the tomatoes. Lots of slugs, too. We cut down on peppers this year though last year we had a truckload. The Brussels sprouts will be ready soon which I’m really happy about. But, potatoes and onions flourish as do cabbage. Didn’t do much this year with tatsoi and bok choy.(just when I’m getting in my Asian cooking mode, too)!!!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Wishfulthinking,
      There will always be challenges for us gardeners but some are easier to deal with than others. I am sure, or I should say hope, next year will be a better gardening year.

  3. At least the sweet potatoes did very well!

  4. That’s a great looking purple sweet potato! All my vines are looking good, including the purple one you sent me. I have a couple of Okinawa plants growing in the ground too. I am hoping they make some potatoes before frost comes here, which usually isn’t until late October.

  5. daphnegould says:

    Your sweet potato looks wonderful. I keep debating with myself over harvesting some sweet potatoes. I miss them. It is rapidly getting colder here with a lot of foretasted days in the 60s. Usually I wait until the end of September to pull them, but with the cool weather I might do them early.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Daphne,
      At Locust Grove where we grow huge beds of SP, this time of year we look for bulge/hump in the bed, gently dig around the soil in that area and pull up the larger SP without disturbing the smaller ones and the vines. The smaller ones will continue to grow. Do final harvest when frost is predicted.

  6. Happy Monday to you Norma! Your garden is growing lovely and so many delicious things to eat. I have only seen angled luffa and not a smooth luffa before so that was interesting. Your sweet potato greens look lovely.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Bam,
      Thanks. There probably are smooth skin luffa at the wet market in HK, they are very plain and not as eye catching as the angled luffa so you probably overlooked them.

  7. Michelle says:

    The sweet potatoes are beautiful, both the tubers and the plants. Good luck with your Okinawan sweet potato harvest.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Michelle,
      I was tempted to harvest some of the Okinawan SP leaves for cooking but didn’t know if doing so would affect the tubers growth so decided not to take any chances, next year.

  8. Are smooth skinned loofahs so called because they give you smooth skin? 😀

  9. Your purple sweet potatoes look absolutely lovely! They look so delicious!
    Haven’t heard of a luffa before but thanks for sharing your garden with us 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  10. The sweet potatoes must have been a nice surprise! They are very pretty.

  11. Purple sweet potatoes! Those are gorgeous and happens to be my favorite potato.

  12. Considering that it’s mid-September, I think your harvests are fabulous, Norma. And your sweet potatoes! How wonderful they look! Mine are looking okay at the moment, but a lot smaller than yours. Would you believe that groundhogs love munching on the leaves? They have defoliated mine a couple of times now, but thankfully the plants are not so easy to completely destroy. Btw, they make pretty neat houseplants. You can cut the stems and root them and then pot them up, like pothos plants. Thanks for the update! XOXO

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Angie,
      Thanks for sending me the rooted slips, will post an update when I harvest, hope I get some tubers, will be happy even if they are small ones. Going to root some stems and grow them as houseplants as you suggested. Thanks again.

  13. cheri says:

    Hi Norma, your sweet potato is beautiful. The bok choy looks like it has a great start, thinking about growing them myself next time.

  14. Juliana says:

    Norma, thanks for this post, I didn’t know that luffa was called luffa, if you know what I mean…I always buy the angle one, but had no idea of its name. Thanks for sharing about the space between the skin and flesh…
    Beautiful harvest! Have a wonderful week 😀

  15. Margaret says:

    Beautiful (and BIG!) sweet potatoes. I just love their leaves & flowers too. I’m hoping to include some regular potatoes on my grow list next year, but sweet potatoes are not too far down the line. That’s too bad about the luffa – I’ve never eaten one but I know how disappointing it is to harvest a veg, just to find out it falls short in the kitchen.

  16. hotlyspiced says:

    How lovely to be able to spend some time with your daughter and son-in-law. And how lovely for them to go home with some garden-fresh produce. I didn’t know you could eat loofah! I’ve only ever used the dried variety to scrub my back. I love the look of your purple sweet potato – it’s such a pretty colour xx

  17. Jenny says:

    Very interesting to find out why lufa turned bitter. I planted it but summer was too cold to really produce so there’s one small lufa formed and hanging in there. I think I’ll wait till frost to see if i can actually get a lufa out of it.

  18. I’m not familiar with a luffa so thank you for sharing this knowledge with me, Norma!

  19. Wow! This Purple sweet potatoe such an amazing color! I totally love it. I’d never eat it, it’s so beautiful! Must tastes delicious !

  20. Kristy says:

    I’ve never seen purple sweet potatoes! They are so cute. I wonder if I that would help me get the kids to eat them. 🙂 Glad you had a fun visit with your daughter and son-in-law!

  21. Those sweet potatoes are magic!

  22. Linda says:

    What a lovely purple sweet potato!

  23. Karen says:

    How nice that your daughter and son-in-law could take home fresh veggies from your garden. Hope you can get those gardening days you wish for before your first frost. Ours will hit this week.

  24. Pingback: Cat’n Around Catskill 2014 | Garden to Wok

  25. Luffas are completely new to me, but they look familiar in the photo. I’m going to have to research that a bit. I love finding new fruits and vegetables to experiment with. And your sweet potato plants are beautiful!

  26. Pingback: Harvest Monday, September 22, 2014 – Smooth-skin Luffa + Lutz Beet + San Marzano Tomato + Asian Pear | Garden to Wok

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