Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Grow, Eat, Enjoy - Sweet Potatoes


In the past few weeks, we finished the last of our sweet potatoes, saving the final two potatoes to start our new sweet potato plants. I find sweet potatoes easy and fun to grow.

Last year we had a very poor crop. I planted too late, right before a dry spell, and the ground hogs thought the sweet potato plants were their buffet. Our crop of sweet potatoes was very small but my parents shared some of their sweet potatoes with us.

This year, I am starting my sweet potato plants much earlier. I plan to put a soaker hose along the hill for easy watering, and be vigilant against animals.


Grow

Sweet potatoes, unlike regular potatoes, are started with plants. You can grow your own plants by placing a sweet potato in water. I have two sweet potatoes in water right now. The one is just starting to grow fine roots and tiny sprouts. I wrote step-by-step directions on starting sweet potato plants.



Sweet potatoes are grown on a hill of soil. Since they like warm weather, in my area, they are not planted until June. Last year, just for an experiment, I planted a whole sweet potato that already was sprouting leaves. It did not produce new sweet potatoes like the little sweet potato plants.

Sweet potato plants are harvested near the time of the first frost. Frost will blacken the leaves of the sweet potato plant. Of course, they will not continue to grow after a frost so they need dug immediately.



With proper curing sweet potatoes will last all winter. The sweet potatoes that we just ate, were still in perfect condition. Sweet potatoes actually improve in flavor with time. Some people won't eat their sweet potatoes until after the New Year when the sweetness has increased.

Sweet potatoes are one of the simplest vegetables to store. Sweet potatoes don't need to be canned, frozen, or stored in a cold cellar. Since they are best stored in a cool room, my grandmother would wrap the sweet potatoes in newspaper and store them under her bed.

Eat

I love having stored sweet potatoes to eat in the winter. Sweet potatoes contain more vitamins than almost any other vegetable. We enjoy mashed sweet potato crunch as a treat over the holidays.

 

But our favorite way to eat sweet potatoes is oven roasted. Roasting  brings out the sweetness. My children like when I cut them into french fry strips and serve with ketchup.



Sweet Potato Biscuits



One-Dish Pork Dish  - with sweet potatoes and apples

If you want more information on raising sweet potatoes, check out this article, Grow Sweet Potatoes - Even in the North. It gives lots of good information on raising and storing sweet potatoes.

Do you grow sweet potatoes? I'd love to hear your tips and recipes!

17 comments :

  1. Mine are sprouting right now also. Like you my crop last year was marginal at best. The year before we had a bumper crop. Wonder what this year will bring?

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  2. I don't have the space to grow sweet potatoes but we love to eat them. We use them in almost anything you can use pumpkin in. (I didn't grow up eating pumpkin at all.) Pies, cakes,muffins, breads, stews, baked, fried, and "candied". We love them!

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  3. We have not grown sweet potatoes in years. We have talked about adding them back to our garden this year as we all really like them. Enjoy your day and God bless.

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  4. Hi Gina - I am new to reading your blog and I am really enjoying it. I have just spent the morning digging over my veg patch (its only tiny). I seem to kill every plant I grow; not sure what i am doing wrong as I follow instructions. Never mind we'll try again. Little Son gets excited even if we only produce one strawberry!!

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  5. I have never grown sweet potatoes before, but thought this year I might give it a go.

    Thanks for the information and may God bless you with an abundant harvest!

    Blessings~
    Laura

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  6. I've never met anyone in my zone who's grown sweet potatoes, but we love them too. Our favourite way is as fries served with mayo, or mashed as the topping for Shepherd's Pie. Using them in place of pumpkin is an interesting idea.

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  7. I always wondered how you grow sweet potato plants, Gina, you are a gardening whiz. My sweet potatoes got too wet last fall and have shriveled to almost nothing.
    May God bless you Gina.

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  8. One way to get sweet potatoes to put more strength in growing potatoes and not just vines is: trim the vines back to the bottom of the ridge. We do that at least once a summer.

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  9. well, I just didn't know all that about sweet potatoes! Thanks for the info.
    We love roasted sweet potatoes with salt and pepper. We are not fond of them with sweeteners, though.

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  10. Wow, thanks for the tip... I never thought of sprouting in a cup of water... My first year gardening and I'm already overwhelmed!!!

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  11. Thank you for sharing your knowledge on growing and curing sweet potatoes!
    Our Chinese community garden neighbors taught us to eat our sweet potato greens in stir fry and soup. The greens taste good and contain lots of vitamins. Thanks for all your gardening and baking tips! God Bless!

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  12. Iam a new gardener. Learning to live from the soil. Excited that at last Iam able to practice what I love so much. Thank you for the tips.

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  13. I am from Las Cruces NM, wondering when to plant sweet potatoes, here in the southwest. I have grown them before but not in this area. Thanks in advance for your input. Ann

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    Replies
    1. I really am unsure when you would plant sweet potatoes in your area. Can you contact your local extension agent, or garden society to find out info?
      Gina

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  14. My dad would cure his sweet potatoes nestled in a hill of pine straw covered with dirt. We lived on the coast of S.C. So our winters weren't severe.
    Mama loved to roast them in the fire place in the ashes. Her family had done this when she was a child.
    Often I split my potatoes lengthwise and brush with olive oil then lay cut side down on a baking sheet. They caramelize when they bake.
    Sweet potatoes are a staple in our house. Most I buy (here in Alabama ) are grown in Mississippi but I'm going to try to grow some since I read your article. Thanks for posting. Good luck with your garden.

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  15. I had the weirdest things happen. A friend told me that she sometimes did not compost like most people do, instead she just dug a ditch and put her cut up veggie scrapes into it and then covered it. I have limited space so I though I would do the same thinking I was preparing my soil for planting with store bought seeds. There were some pieces of sweet potatoes (about 2 inches in size) included in my compost. To my surprise two weeks later I have two happy and healthy sweet potato plants growing our of this compost. I had my gardener install a drip system and the plants are going crazy. I think a drip system is the key to growing a healthy garden. I also took the seeds out of two organic cherry tomatoes and cleaned and dried them for about two weeks. At then end of two weeks I had prepared a planting spot in my garden. I soaked the seeds overnight and then planted them. Now I have about 20 tomato plants. Wow I must have great soil of God had blessed my garden!

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  16. Hi there, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this blog post.
    It was practical. Keep on posting!

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I'm still learning how to be a joyful homemaker and I'd love to hear from you!

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