I know I'm getting way ahead of myself, mentioning the word pie already, but, this is after all, the time to plant sweet potatoes. Isn't the anticipation part of what gardening is all about! I was able to attend a clinic a few Saturdays ago with master gardener veteran, John Chapman. He talked about a new method of gardening ( I will post more about that when I get more information). He also brought a along a sweet potato growing in a jar, just like the one your mother used to grow on the windowsill. John wanted to remind all of us just how easy it is to grow sweet potatoes. Since I have a great love for this highly nutritious tuber but have only tried growing it once, I thought it might be time to try again.
It's all very simple. You just place the tuber in a jar of water, pointy end down. Wait a few days for the shoots or slips to appear. When the slips are about 4 or 5 inches long, pull them off and put them in another little jar of water. Wait for a few more days, little roots will appear. That's it, they're ready to plant. I'm planting mine in a raised bed. They are a very fast growing vine and can easily take over. Give yourself plenty of room for this vegetation to spread. John mentioned that he grows his potatoes in old tires (as shown in the photo above). Make sure you plant where your potatoes will get plenty of sun.
Plant 1o to 12 inches apart. Sweet potatoes like sandy, loamy soil, that's not too high in nitrogen.
When plants start growing, pile more soil up around the stem to provide more soil space for the tubers to form. Once roots are established, don't over water. Sweet potatoes love the heat and will thrive throughout the hot summer months. Days to harvest, 90 to 120, just in time for Thanksgiving. When leaves turn yellow its time to harvest, carefully uproot potatoes. Let potatoes dry or cure for a week or so out of the sun, in a cool place.
You can plant sweet potatoes until the end of June, so get them growing now. Sweet potatoes are considered one of the top ten "super foods", they are a powerhouse of vitamins, antioxidants and fiber. They are easily grown in your own backyard and they provide a high calorie content per pound and high yield per area as taught in the biodynamic gardening
Meet me back here in October, we'll see how our potatoes come up. Besides, my South Carolinian mother-in-law has a great recipe for sweet potato pie.
My husband and I have been gardening for many years, not so much for the food security, but for the beauty, satisfaction, and peace that gardening and growing things bring you. We started small, a couple of tomatoes, a few zucchini, and lots of flowers. It didn't really matter how much we harvested. We really didn't eat from our garden. We didn't know how. The lettuce was always a little bitter . The tomatoes always had holes in them and there was a Safeway just down the street. The important thing was that we were having fun. We loved working together with our children beside us. There is something comforting about watching your kids play in the dirt or happily run down the brick paths with nowhere to go. Our garden was the center of the earth ,we were firmly planted there and that was all that mattered. A couple of years ago, something important started to take place. A shift began to take shape, not only to us , but to our communities. The meaning of food began to change. Where the food came from, what was in it and how it nourishes us. Perhaps the connection between what we eat and how we feel finally began to set in. For us, it was time to get serious. It was time to eat from our garden.
" I am a mad gardener. I mutter and rant, and at night I shake dry seeds out of my unruly mane of hair. The garden is in my bones, in my gut, and in my hands. "
Wendy Johnson , Gardening at the Dragons Gate
Inch by inch, row by row Gonna make this garden grow Gonna mulch it deep and low Gonna make it furtile ground
Inch by inch, row by row Please bless these seeds I sow Please keep them safe below 'Till the rain comes tumbling down
Pullin' weeds and pickin' stones We are made of dreams and bones Need a place to call my own 'Cause the time is close at hand
Grain for grain, sun and rain Find my way in nature's chain Tune my body and my brain To the music of the land
Plant your rows straight and long Season them with prayer and song Mother Earth will make you strong If you give her love and care An old crow watches hungrily from his perch on younder tree In my garden I'm as free as that feathered bird up there