Sweet Potatoes – or Not

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In a past writing I talked about planting sweet potatoes here in northern flyover country and the success I’ve had despite our short growing season. During this summer I have planted and meticulously tended my sweet potato vines. They have grown and the lush foliage has again reached across my garden. Looking across the carpet of green heart-shaped leaves I dreamed of roasted dinners built around the bright orange gems.

A whistling sound and rustling beneath leaves caught my attention. A thirteen- lined ground squirrel, known in these parts as a “striped gopher” was scurrying beneath the sweet potato leaves. I decided to dig through the leaves and see what the commotion was all about. As I lifted the leaves at the center of one of my plants, I saw freshly dug soil and discovered that the little marauders had dug into, and in a very stealthy and subterranean endeavor had totally eaten the sweet potatoes from beneath the plant. The plant was still rooted and looked fine, but its purpose for me had been destroyed.

Upon further investigation, I found the little gophers had dug into each plant and pretty much destroyed the crop. You think you’ve done everything right, played the game well and then in the last quarter or inning or whatever, you lose it. So much for all the planning alluded to in my last writing. One thing is for certain; I am planning for a few less gophers in my garden, in the future.

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