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Sweet Surprise

Every year I try some new things in my garden just because it’s fun and you never know what you might get. Sometimes its a new variety of a vegetable I’m familiar with and sometimes it’s an entirely new veggie. I just find this to be part of the fun of gardening. This year I tried, in the first category, sugar beets (I plan to try to get sugar from them at harvest) and in the second, on my wife’s request, sweet potatoes.

In spring sweet potatoes arrive at plant nurseries as bare root seedlings (meaning they have no dirt around their roots) and when I bought mine I was convinced they would never survive because they looked to be in such bad shape. However, I was assured that that is just how they look and that they would be fine.

So I planted them in one of my raised beds and most of them did survive and grew into a tremendous set of vines that totally overflowed the bed (sorry I neglected to takes pics of the vines before harvest). But I still wasn’t convinced I’d get much of a harvest because sweet potatoes are tropical plants, I read that they need a lot of heat to form tubers, and a friend had tried to grow them last year and got lots of vines but no tubers. I was a bit hopeful since this summer was hotter than last.

So today I decided to go out and harvest them. Below is the first one I dug up.

First Sweet Potato

First Sweet Potato

So that was a lot of fun and then I dug up a couple more.

I planned to stop there because I don’t really like sweet potatoes and that was enough for my wife. Then I read that soil temps below 55 can damage sweet potatoes, so I decided to harvest the rest. And this is what I wound up with.

27 pounds and 11 ounces of sweet potatoes. I may need to learn to like them.

Now I need to cure them, which means to give them some time to thicken up their skins and seal off the places where the tubers break off the plant. Proper curing will allow them to be stored for longer.

To cure them the need to be subjected to temps of 85-90 degrees F and high humidity, which seems like it will be a challenge in the Hudson Valley in late October. I have a book with some suggestions which I’ll try and I’ll let you know how it works in a later post.

2 Responses to “Sweet Surprise”

  1. Sweet potato latke with lots of scallions. Nom nom.

  2. Jay says:

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve already successfully incorporated sweet potatoes into the squash pancake recipe on the website and made a sweet potato and peanut soup that will soon be going up on the recipe page.

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