Monday, June 14, 2010
My, Oh, My, Sweet Potato Pie
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 method. 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.