sweet potato slips

Sweet Potatoes, Onions…

We’ve got them all!  Or will have.  This week the kids learned how to make sweet potato slips, the process many gardeners use for starting thier sweets in the garden.  Simply cut them in half, suspend them in water and wait until your potato grows long, stringy roots.  Done.

I imagine this method was developed for nothern gardeners as a way to give these sweets a head start on the season.  Important, considering sweet potatoes require 100-140 days to mature.  Heck, that’s longer than the entire warm season in some parts of the country!  Poor things.

Here in Florida I’ve discovered these babies can re-sprout themselves in ground with no help from me.  Reassuring.  Forget to harvest all your bounty?  You too, will have sweet potatoes sprouting anew.  (I do love an easy vegetable.)  It makes them the perfect candidate for growing over summer break.  End of May, we plan to tranplant our slips into the garden and bid them adieu.

Meanwhile, we harvested our purple cauliflower along with a doozy of an onion.  Get a load of this pumpkin (term of endearment)!

He’s a beauty, isn’t he?  The kids were quite excited, despite the fact many won’t allow the sweet thing anywhere near their plate. 

Until I change their minds, that is.  Next week we’re headed for the kitchen and I’m going to prove to these kids that growing your own vegetables DOES make them taste better.  Have you ever tasted a sweet onion, fresh from the garden? No tears, no tarts, they are pure melt-in-your-mouth butter and honey.  We’ll try ours raw and baked, some sprinkled with a bit of brown sugar, others a bit of Gruyere.  Yummmmm…  Can’t you just taste them?

As usual, there’s the job of weeding and maintenance but when the girls get together, there’s no stopping them!

Or the boys for that matter.  When weed duty was finished they went for the berries. 

Boys will be boys!  Didn’t mama always say, the way to get her garden expanded was feed papa some fresh grown vittles? 

It was something along those lines.  Until next week, enjoy this lovely shot of cauliflower.

She’s a real beauty.

Giving Thanks

I imagine Thanksgiving looks different in each household, each part of the country.  In my home, the day is spent at home, cooking, playing, enjoying the simple pleasures of life.  While I don’t have much time for the garden today (food assignments gobble up the majority of my day!), I did venture out to check on the sweet potatoes.  What Thanksgiving table would be complete without sweet potatoes?

And add this to my list of blessings — my slips have grown into sweets.  Varying sizes and shapes, this is what I’ve come to expect from this golden harvest.

On the other hand (more aptly other end of the garden), those sweets leftover from last season and started themselves — proof Mother Nature is quite prolific — have done quite well. 

Though when compared to Mother Nature’s batch, I’d say I didn’t do too bad.  Good size, nice shape, they’ll all taste the same in the mashed sweet potato dish!  More important, it just goes to show, you ALWAYS have time for the garden.  Happy Thanksgiving!

And the Sweetest Potatoes are…

My own!  I planted one row of sweet potatoes this summer.  Half with sweet potato plants I bought at the store, the other half from slips I made myself (from last year’s crop).  Take a look for yourself —

These are the ones I purchased.  Notice how, in general, they look a bit yellowed and peaked.  Skimpy vines, not full and lush. 

But these bad girls are mine!  Look at those beautiful green leaves, the gorgeous purple blossoms.  Sure, there’s a yellow blemish or two — but nobody’s perfect.  

No Ma’am!  So next spring, make sure you get those slips ready in time for summer planting because it’s easy, cheaper…not to mention more productive!  And just think of the mouth-watering sweet potato pie you can make come fall.  Or those healthy sweet potato fries.  Sweet potato casserole, anyone?  Yum.

Time to make your sweet potato slips!

 

Summer is fast approaching (in Florida, anyway) which means it’s time to get your slips in the ground and growing.  They require a long growing season and they require warmth.  But they don’t grow from seed potatoes, rather the “slips” created from your sweet potatoes.  How does one create a sweet potato slip? 

The technique is easy.  You simply cut your sweet potato in half, perch it upon the mouth of a jar or glass (suspended by toothpicks works well) submerging the bottom half in water.  Voila!  

Place in a sunny location and keep the water level  high enough so the bottom half remains wet and watch your potato sprout. 

After a while — times vary, but you can expect to wait days, even weeks in some cases — shoots will form on the top of your potato.  You can gently remove these and place them in water, again half-submersed, and roots will develop. 

When they reach a couple of inches, you simply transplant them to your garden and water them in. 

Sweet potatoes like loose sandy soil and don’t need a lot of fertilizer or water, which makes them especially kind to the novice Florida gardener, such as myself.  You can amend the soil with some compost to add nutrients, but don’t worry if you can’t.  These girls are pretty hardy.

Depending on the variety, potatoes can be harvested from 100 – 140 days.   I planted my first crop last June and began harvesting in October but continued through December.  They don’t like the cold, so we cleared the remainder out and collected them for storage before the temps dipped too low. 

Good thing we did.  Florida was quite nippy this last season!

As with any tender transplant, take care with your new rootings and they will grow fast and furious.   Wonderful news,  because sweet potatoes are not only easy to grow, but they’re as healthy as it gets.  Roasted, mashed, baked or broiled, these babies will keep you healthy and happy and hoppin’ ready for a new crop come fall!