More than just a pretty vine, there’s delicious tubers, too!
In early- to mid-summer, I planted 5 sweet potato slips in one of the raised beds in the backyard. It was impulsive but I was running out of time. I’d ordered the slips—along with a bunch of other seeds from Southern Exposure—with the best of planting intentions but then I changed my mind about the plan for the back yard, the beds went unprepared which meant there were going to be unsown, and so I found myself outside one summer day with plants that needed to be planted!
I’d stashed several of the slips in the banana circle I’d built earlier as a lark—I had no idea just how much they were going to thrive!—and so these would be in good company. As the season progressed, the plants went crazy putting out LOTS of long, sturdy ground covering vines that produced beautiful little flowers in white and purple. I’d heard of sweet potatoes being a ground cover in some areas, in particular the tropics, but it wasn’t until I saw them in action that I saw how they attracted pollinators and suppressed grass.
Over the summer I became so accustomed to seeing the flowers and twining vines that climbed up and over the banana plant and the Jerusalem artichokes that I made it this late into fall without thinking about the delicious tubers at the base of all that beautiful goodness!
So, yesterday, amid all the time spent putting down bulbs, I also took some time to dig up the potatoes in the bed and from the 5 slips I harvested some beauties, a few as big or bigger than my open hand!
While we can’t eat the potatoes or the jerusalem artichokes tubers from the banana circle (since it’s fed pet waste and thus, pathogens are a risk), we can eat these from the raised bed. As i wrote with the picture I posted to Instagram, I gave these things zero attention after planting them. They managed their own water needs, fertilization, weed and pest control.
Add to this self-sufficiency the beautiful bee-loving flowers and I highly recommend that you try sweet potatoes as soon as you can. Slips are available in the early spring from suppliers like Southern Exposure; based on the plastic labels I found near the vine bases, these are Beauregard and All Purple varieties. They look absolutely delicious and I can’t wait to enjoy them! A little cinnamon…A little Earth Balance…Omnomnom!
Gardening is Good!