Monday, November 14, 2011

Sweets for the sweet

We gave sweet potatoes one more try this season after being disappointed with them last year.  From two small shriveled roots, I began my own slips in a sunny window during late winter.  They yielded about five little plants, which I placed in a sandy area side-dressed with compost.  At first, the slips died back from too much sun.  But by then they had already begun to grow roots and once these took hold underground, the leaves returned and the plants flourished.  They were moderately neglected after that.  I weeded once and never watered, but the conditions must have favored them just enough because we had an amazing haul.

From five plants, we harvested 15 lbs of very large sweet potatoes.  We'll be planting these again next year.  I've learned that the growing tips can be used to start new plants and will sprout roots when cut and placed in a glass of water.  We already have about six little plants growing in small pots in a sunny window.  I will continue to propagate these through the winter and expect to begin next spring with an unknown exponential number of little sweet potato starts.  I love that these plants do not need hilling, are disease and pest-free, and then they very nearly pop out of the ground when it's time to harvest.  They store very well, once properly cured, are nutritious and my kids love them.

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