Since many of us are starting our seeds and getting the gardening itch – I figured I would re-post this. I get asked a lot about how to start sweet potatoes, so here it is.
Originally posted on July 20, 2011.
Last year was the first time that I had ever planted sweet potatoes in my garden. I came across the plants in one of the local garden stores in the area – so I decided why not. My daughter loves sweet potatoes and would eat them a every meal if she could!
I did some reading up on the plant, finding out sun exposure, watering, etc and then in the ground they went. I was not sure when to harvest, one book said before the first frost, another I read said when the leaves start to turn. So what did I do? I winged it. I figured they had been in the ground producing for about 4 months – so I dug them up. They were beautiful, a wonderful orange color and ranging in size and shape from small finger like to very large oblong ones.
Next was the curing process, hmm – all that I had read was to let them cure on the ground for several hours after harvesting. I did not know how I was supposed to know if they had cured enough, would be good to eat and would last thru the winter. Again, I winged it. I let them cure in the sun for about 3 days, taking them in at night. Whether or not I followed the proper protocol didn’t matter because these were the most delicious sweet potatoes I had ever tasted and the deep orange color was simply amazing. I must have done something right because for 3 years my neighbor has continuously told me that everything I have planted in my post card sized yard would not work. When I harvested my sweet potatoes I called him over and he finally said that I was a gardener and he wanted to try one -he loved it and asked for more!
I planted about 12 plants and harvested an apple bushel sized bag, which by the way is a great storage bag for the potatoes. We had potatoes throughout the winter, with some left over come spring.
With such success, I of course wanted to plant them again this year, but never could find any plants at any of the garden stores. Back to the books I went trying to figure out how to propagate the plant from the tuber and was not really “getting it”and then in the mail came my favorite magazine Mother Earth News and there was an article in there about growing sweet potatoes in the north. Ask and you will receive.
I pulled out the bag of potatoes and some had already started to vine. I took the ones that had already started vining and added a few more to a shallow baking dish filled with water, sat them in the sun and about 2 weeks later I had enough vines to put in the garden! After breaking the vines off the potatoes I thru the potatoes into the compost, not sure how they would taste after sitting in water for 2 weeks and vining.
Then into the garden they went. I am fortunate to have a neighbor, same one as mentioned above, that has a much larger piece of land for his garden and he gave me space to grow the sweet potatoes.
Remember that I put the water-logged sweet potato into the compost? I think you can guess what happened in there…several weeks later I had about 40 or so vines growing and no more room to plant them. I needed to find a home for them and I am happy to report that yesterday I found a home for many of them.
Sweet potatoes are yummy all by themselves, but we also enjoy them as sweet potato fries, chips, in zucchini pancakes and the other day I found this recipe for sweet potato hummus – can’t wait to try it!http://www.organicauthority.com/mojo-foods/6-sensational-hummus-flavor-combinations-recipes.html