grow sweet potatoes

Sweet Potato Confessions

Now that the Thanksgiving holiday has passed, the turkey consumed, the sweets devoured, I have a confession to make.  Remember those nice round sweet potatoes I unearthed on Thanksgiving Day?  Yes, you remember, my harvest, and that of Mother Nature’s?  Well, all is not as it seemed.

At the time, I was only out for a brief visit.  So busy cooking and preparing my feast, I didn’t have time for a full harvest session, though had I, I would have discovered this issue earlier.  Yes, my sweets have issues.  But don’t we all?  I mean, really, are any of us perfect?

Me — I’m uninterested in perfection.  I’m interested in production.  But my sweet potatoes are delivering neither.  In cultivating my beautiful, perfectly aligned rows, I neglected to give my sweets enough space to spread out and set their roots.  Roots that need to reach into the soil in order to produce potatoes (potatoes grow under the ground). 

And they can’t reach into the soil when my walking rows are so cleverly lined with weed-protection paper!  It seems while solving one problem, I created another.  Sure, I have a minimum of weeds, but I have a minimum of sweets, too.  And just when I found a recipe for sweet potato gnocchi I wanted to try.  Hmph.

Tip from Captain Obvious:  When preparing your beds for sweet potatoes, be sure to give them LOTS of space to spread their vines and delve their roots.  While they don’t require a lot of attention, they DO require plenty of area.

A fact I’m well aware, but somehow overlooked.  Oh, well.  There’s always next season.  (Thank God I’m not dependent on my garden for my survival!)  But since one never knows what the future holds, I’m grateful for the fact my learning curve is occurring now rather than later — when I might actually need these skills.

Beats the alternative, right?

You Won’t Believe What Mandie Did

I’m still in shock myself.  Stunned.  Yes, I know her life’s in disarray at the moment.  She’s not living in her house, the ceiling is under repair, but THIS?  How could she?

Yep.  That’s her planter’s box, once filled with a wild tangle of sweet potato it’s now barren.   Sure vines were mussed, the yard unkept…

But to pull them all out?  That’s akin to pulling one’s hair out! 

“There were no sweet potatoes, anyway.”

“They take time!  Come October/November you would have had plenty of potatoes!”

“Ah, whatever.  I pulled them all out.”

“Why didn’t you call me?  I could have talked you through this!”  Why would you do it unless

You’re really in distress.  Which gave me pause.  Tearing open her computer case, whipping it free…  I could see.  Yes.  I’m afraid so.  It was the reality of no time, no energy.  Stress reared its ugly head and she yanked her vines free in vicarious delight. 

Something I can understand.  Mandie’s under a bit of stress right now and who can blame her?  Under the circumstance, I might do the same.  (Okay, maybe that’s a tad extreme.  I mean, I’m the woman who collects compost while away from home just to feed my plants–save the earth!)  But life is life and everyone’s is different.  I haven’t been driven from my home.  I don’t work in an office.  I have time.  She doesn’t.

So despite the evidence of potatoes in progress, she has foregone the harvest. 

But take heart — there’s good news!  She hasn’t forsaken the dream!  When her life returns to normal and she’s back and settled, she WANTS to try again!  Can you think of a better testament to the joy of gardening?

Hmph.  I’m hard-pressed on that count.

Mandie’s Sweet Potato Tangle

There’s something to be said about letting nature do her thing.  Take a look at these sweet potatoes (yes, that mass of vine is sweet potato!)  Can you imagine the golden harvest this woman is going to realize come fall?  Break out the casserole dishes, roll out the pie pans, we’re having sweet potatoes for dinner!  And dessert. 

Appetizers, anyone?

Now Mandie would not normally allow her garden to grow so wild and unmanageable, but she’s sort of displaced at the moment.  Air conditioner broke and in Florida, during August mind you, this is no minor issue.  Why, her two little boys could die of heat exhaustion if she didn’t move them out and quick!  But with a mother’s survival instinct comes a gardener’s back burner.  The sweet potatoes must now fend for themselves.

Which you see, they seem to do quite well.  Not surprising, since these babes are one of the easier veggies to grow.  Lovers of sandy soil, light water and minimal food — sounds more like a beach babe waif than sweet potato, doesn’t it? —  bothered by a few bugs, yes, but nothing they can’t survive.  Why, this crisis is a no-brainer for them!

last year's offspring


As if this example wasn’t proof enough, I have a wild child of my own, growing with abandon in the opposite end of the garden. 

Looks better than the ones I’m actually paying attention to and trying to grow!  

Go figure.

this year's crop


So if you want an easy, healthy vegetable to grow, consider the sweet potato.  Chocked full of anti-oxidants, Vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), Vitamin C, as well as a good source of Vitamin B6, this one is an all out winner on the serving plate.