IMG_6075I have fallen in love with a new vegetable that won my heart last year. I grew them in biodegradable pots that were not such a good idea since they moved out of the pots and tried to root in the soil underneath. BUT-I did get sweet potatoes!

IMG_4158They also grew all over my garden in pots and wanted to take over our garden……

IMG_4157I did not mind for the vines were lovely. I have grown a variety of sweet potatoes over the years. It is a perfect vegetable for a Modern Day Kitchen garden in the city!

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I saved a dozen purple sweet potatoes from last fall and put them in water February.  They sprouted these lovely green vines and then….

IMG_8223I just potted them up when the vines were getting a bit long, and the roots were nicely developed. You just “slip” them off the potato, and you have a plant and roots to put in soil. It is that simple. One potato produces dozens, and they just keep on producing MORE after you take  slips off!

IMG_8194A few weeks ago, I cleared an area to trial them in some of my gardens. I rotate my vegetables, so I had room in this garden area for 2015. I will be adding them to my rotation cycle that I utilize throughout the 3 year rotation to keep my soil healthy.

IMG_8209I wanted to add some more amendments to this soil, so I spread wet newspaper over the area to keep all the worms happy below working in the amended organic garden bed. I find it easier just to layer some newspaper to smother some of the weeds. I hate disturbing all the activity in the soil. Each year, I find more worms in my soil which was hard as rock years ago. It has taken a few years of composting on a site and working organic materials into the soil. I find my soil is alive with life, and I do not like disturbing all their hard work! If I place a plant in the soil and dig up a worm, I gently place some dirt over him as I put my plant in the ground. They are the hardest workers and as bees they deserve  our respect.

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I added some OMRI ( Organic Materials Review Institute ) certified peat that means it was sustainably harvested. I wanted to add some peat to the soil in this growing area. I planted the seedling starts in the soil and decided to include some tall sunflowers, we shall see if it works! I love to experiment.

IMG_6031-sweet-potaotesHere are some of my purples I trialed in 2015. They are purple inside but I forgot to photograph their lovely deep purple interiors. I won’t forget this year. Yum!

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I found I did not even need to purchase slips this year. I had so many from my saved potatoes.  I was giving them away to anyone that wanted them! Check those lovely vines out and to think these you can eat the tubers. A sustainable vegetable to grow on city lots for it provides food and grows an abundance to share! Now that is a keeper. Don’t you think?

 

To all my blogging friends, I will be  playing catch-up this week. I have been overwhelmed with gardening chores and other things, so have not been near my computer much this spring. I started 3 new garden beds! I hope after this week to be back to a regular schedule to visit you and post again.

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

65 comments

  1. I have never heard of purple sweet potatoes before. You make growing them sound so easy, I must give it a go next year. I love sweet potatoes. I use the newspaper trick too. I’ m currently using newspaper covered with grass cuttings to get rid of ground elder.

    1. They have lovely light purple flowers on them too:-)well, you do have to cure them a bit and wait a few months for them to sweeten up. The growing process is really easy:-) I feel, I may need to use cardboard if this rain does not stop coming-lol-but I am grateful for it since we are not in a drought!

  2. Pure gorgeousness Ms Robbie. I adore sweet potatoes of all kinds. Actually, I adore “potatoes” of all kinds. I am a starchy root kind of gal ;). Did you know that you don’t even need a slip to grow sweet potatoes easily? Just take some cuttings when they are growing and shove them in water. I had them sprout roots after 3 days! I just planted them out and every single one grew (except for the cutting that Earl “frolicked” on, but we won’t talk about that…) so you could technically spread that purple sweet potato love far and wide if you saw fit 🙂

    1. lol-Fran, I can relate- Chance tore through that bed after I planted it and killed a baby rabbit! It upset me so much:-( I know rabbits destroy my crops but I have enough for all us critters.. I never knew him to chase rabbits and kill them but he is the top dog and getting the rabbits Punk use to get. It was so cute:-( I am listening to Farm City on my Kindle this month while working ( written by Novella Carpenter) and they are reading chapter on eating bunnies for city farming-not my cup of tea!Our kids always had pet bunnies when they were younger and the older dogs grew up with them hopping around. We finally gave them to the High School Science room since they were litter trained and great pets ( lived 10+ years) but our kids got older and busy so did not have time. They lived forever!!! Our baby rescue dogs never grew up with them as pets just cats:-) I don’t blame him just being a dog. But hard to witness- YIKES!

      1. I know, it was like when Earl killed a small wallaby that got into the compound. He didn’t actually “bite” it, but he played with the poor thing so much it died of fright with not a mark on it :(. I guess that is round about the time that we remember that dogs, although they are our best mates and would die for us, are also hunting animals and will kill small things sometimes. People always think big dogs are “killers” but little dogs kill more! The smaller terriers are avid killers and will kill rabbits, rats etc. and to be honest, that’s what we paired up with dogs for in the first place! They can hunt, they bring it back and we share it in order for them to have a nice safe warm place with regular food. It’s a symbiotic relationship that we now take for granted. Sorry Chance killed a rabbit, but in his mind he was doing you a favour. Not all “favours” are pretty eh?

      2. You are so right:-) Our other dog use to bring them inside-if she could! Drop them on the step for us + our cats kill mice and leave them for us too:-) Good point + I did think that but it was so darn sweet. My husband told me as he buried it, I could not-“It has blue eyes”-geez!

      3. Most babies have blue eyes. Earl has been out barking at someone staying with the neighbour. He doesn’t recognise the car and is telling them in no uncertain terms to “GO AWAY!” Lucky the neighbour is quite a distance away 😉

      4. good to know it was not a rare bunny he put to rest. I love my dogs but I always have to remember they are not human! They protect us:-)

      5. They certainly do and Chance is just doing what he signed up for, protecting his humans from ferocious rabbits, or more importantly, protecting your crops from voracious rabbits. We are very lucky to live in an age where growing our own food is an option and where we can just head out to the shops to get anything that we need if a rabbit or two get into our produce. Imagine if we didn’t have that luxury? Chance would be invaluable in a situation like that and not only did he save your garden (we won’t talk about him trashing it in the process 😉 ) but he also brought you food! What a good dog! 🙂

  3. They look so beautiful. Our climate is thought to be too cool to grow them here in Ireland but people have been trying them in polytunnels which I want to do too. Good to have you back – I know it’s a busy time of year outside.

    1. I start them pretty early here now since our season is short but we do get hot and humid:-) You are right, a lot of work out there right now!

  4. Here we call these things ‘kumara’ Robbie – I believe they are not from the nightshade family and as such are erroneously called ‘potato’ sweet or otherwise, [but are such a good substitute for the old spud] Am I correct in saying all that? I have just turned on my slow cooker which is filled to the brim with a variety of root vegetables including red and yellow kumeras which will be our main sustenance over the next few days…… Back in the early 70’s I used to grow kumera vines in an old coffee pot over water just for the display of long trailing leaves – one slice of kumera would make a beautiful display that lasted at least a year. One sat on my hanging coffee table made with macramaed rope …. 😀 I had forgotten until I saw your photos!

    1. That is fascinating! I just looked that up and they are called that but they advertise them through baker creek/USA as sweet potatoes. I believe you are right, but I had no idea:-) Now I do-I always learn from you-wise lady!
      I enjoyed them with a little olive oil and sweet onions this fall-YUM….I love that purple color and all the health benefits to boot:-)

      1. It’s amazing what falls out of my head first thing in the morning 🙂 I’m guessing they also have their genesis in South America – maybe Peru – as they came here with the first Maori settlers who made their way here from that region via Easter Island way back………

      2. I love unusual, great tasting food!I am growing yacon this year, I put 5 plants in and we shall see..had to try them for they say something that tastes like ” it’s like a sweet cross between early apples, watermelon and very mild celery, with a touch of pear.” Just had to grow them and try!

      1. It’s coming back you know, I saw some how-to’s on You Tube a while ago 🙂 I still have a giant ball of unused rope that has been all over the world with me, waiting for the day ……

      2. It is time! all the 70’s styles are coming back this summer which means “peasant shirts” all over + I am happy-loved those comfortable shirts!

  5. They look so good, especially your purples. When we lived in the Canary Islands they were a major crop and were planted in all the barrancos. Here in the UK you can mostly get Beauregard slips. I am trying just the one plant this year to see how it goes.

    1. I am planting more this summer + hope to have more to eat:-) It is one of those crops where you need a few seasons under your belt to learn to grow them in your zone:-) They were pretty cooked in olive oil, sweet onions-YUM! The purple was lovely:-)

  6. I love sweet potatoes! I’d love to taste the purple ones. The vines are beautiful and look great with the red and orange flowers (Hibiscus and Cosmos?).

    1. Me too + that purple tastes great lightly cooked with sweet onions in olive oil-YUM! Lord Baltimore Hibiscus-my favorite:-)

  7. I have thought of you often this spring, but I knew just where you were…out in your garden! Looking forward to seeing posts of your abundant garden this summer. Your enthusiasm and joy would make *anyone* want to pick up a hoe and give it a try!

    1. awww…Yes, my garden is where I spend most of my free time. The computer is not a place I visit too often. Just too darn nice out there:-)it is coming alive!

  8. I love sweet potatoes and yams. Have never heard of a purple variety. When I get a planting area in I might think about these. I was told they were easy to grow but you had to wait a long time to eat them so it put it on the back burner for me. They look lovely.

  9. Lovely post Robbie, my daughter eats Sweet Potatoes as they are lower in carbs than regular potatoes, so we had decided to grow them next year, as they are pricey to buy over here and organic Sweet potatoes even pricier. What kind of yield do you expect from the area you used and how much space have they taken up?

    1. I am still working on learning how to grow these in my zone 5 climate:-) I found growing my own slips made it easier this year to get hardy vines sooner. I had TOO many from just a dozen I saved:-) When I mail order them they are just too small and take forever to get a bit larger to place in the garden. I decided to grow my own this year + I did order 12 to compare to my slips:-) I put them out in the garden a few weeks ago but they don’ t seem to be taking off yet, but I assume that is due to our cool spring. Our hot weather is a bit late this year. I found this article about how to grow and it said 4 months frost free weather which is hard for me if we have a late spring. I thought if I started them in feb(vines) they would take off. I am finding they are doing okay out there in the soil, but I found last year in the containers they did great! I used biodegradable containers, and a bit too much nitrogen ( fertilized to much on my part) which may of hindered my production.I read that some where:-)
      I am trialing some different ways to grow them this year in my garden. I put some in the composted garden bed. I also have some in biodegradable again to see what they do with a different soil mix + less organic fertilizer, and some raised containers to see how they do in there with an organic potting mix. It will be interesting. I also need to cure them a bit longer- which I did not last year due to harvesting them a bit late. I did cook and eat them after a few months sitting around. I cooked them in light olive oil and sweet onions-YUM. I loved their DEEP purple color:-)
      I hope this helps, but I am still learning-here is some information on growing them, I found useful.

      http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/how-to-grow-sweet-potatoes-zmaz88ndzgoe.aspx?PageId=1
      http://www.southernexposure.com/sweet-potatoes-growing-guide-ezp-163.html

    1. I know they are amazing! I am learning how to grow them and work beautifully in containers. I hope to learn more and they are such a pretty plant. They do have a flower which is a light violet color:-) I tried to capture a picture last year but it was gone before I got a chance. They were YUM-too!

  10. I am so impressed with your sweet potato plantings. They grow extremely well in the North of New Zealand but I can’t seem to get a long enough growing season in the south where I am. I had one small harvest one year. It was delicious even though small. Would have been even more delicious if I had been patient and let them cure!

    1. i know what you mean:-) I was worried about that since it took so long for the “slips” I mail-ordered to grow large. I held back about a dozen tubers and grew out my own slips. I wanted larger more mature slips to place in the garden when it got warmer. I am waiting until our warm,humid summer weather starts to put them out this year. Our spring is a bit late this year:-( They need about 3-4 months frost free weather out there + I put some also in containers. I am seeing which way works best in my area. I also need to cure them a bit longer. They sure were yummy with a little olive oil, sweet onions and all that purple! I decided to just grow these in our garden since they make a lovely vine running around between plants. I hope after a few more seasons of growing to figure out how to grow these in our climate. I find advice I read in other places is useful-BUT-only helpful as a reference for I have microclimates + my own potager is unique in how it produces food. I can grow things with a few small “fixes” here and there if I learn from my mistakes:-)

      1. I have read that -but you know when it is a new idea to you, you ponder-LOL. I can’t tell you how many times, I have tried something that was unfamiliar and hoped, hmmm..hope, I don’t drop dead now! I will check that video out for I would love to use them-Have you eaten them?

      2. Once or twice but not recently. I have eaten broad bean leaves, runner bean leaves, broccoli leaves and cauliflower leaves. And once upon a time I ate a lot of pumpkin leaves. I like leaves. 🙂

      3. I have to admit…a bit anxious that first bite!If I live-well, I know—makes me wonder is that how people found out in the olden times—so and so dropped dead from eating that plant-don’t eat that one but you can eat that one for I lived-sorry for my off humor, just had to say! I am trying them this year:-)

      4. I have always wondered that, too. New and strange things should probably be tried in small amounts anyway in case one has an allergic reaction.

      5. you are so right, I am allergic to Chamomile tea + Red Rooibos Tea tea:-( really liked them too. I approach things slowly:-)

  11. Yum Robbie! Another must try inspired by you! Where might I find these purple potato slips? So, if you grow the vines horizontally they will root and make more potatoes? Or can you grow vertically with a good yield? They are beautiful and I love eating anything dark and purple!

    1. I haven’t tried the vertically, but I want to for I feel they would look lovely on an arbor:-) Here is where I got mine-
      http://www.tatorman.com/purple-passion/
      I grew them in a container and let them wander and got a pretty good yield. I read you should not let them root for they won’t put out as many tubers…I am just learning, so I’ll let you know after I learn some more:-) Several people say you can eat the leaves, hmmm, I have to do it this year!

  12. Oh, I forgot to say that I created 90% of my garden using newspaper, compost and mulch! It does make for a much better soil. I never till my soil – layers, layers, layers. I have lots of worms and beetles and snails and consequently birds. I, too, rebury worms – that made me laugh.

    1. I even love cardboard in the fall, it really kills the weeds + they love that stuff too! Aww..kindred spirits. I picture all the little worms go back to the worm castle underground and say, phew-the lady of the house covered me so I did not dry up-LOL-I know, I am nuts!

  13. I’m more than a month behind but planted my sweet potatoes yesterday! 3/4 purple, 1/4 regular. Fingers crossed I’m not too late for our climate.

    1. I am struggling with getting everything in since we have some strange weather too:-) You have inspired me saute them!

  14. I grow sweet potatoes in a pot every year. I usually grow Bunch Porto Rico and then eat the potatoes at Thanksgiving. The foliage is so pretty weaving between other pots and plants. The potatoes are just a happy bonus.

  15. Hi Robbie…
    Trust that things are going on well for you…
    Yeap, purple sweet potatoes are really lovely to eat, and of course, to grow as well…

    I am wondering about your comment on not growing nightshades…
    I might be mistaken, but if you are thinking that sweet potatoes belong to the nightshade family, they are not…
    I think they are of the same family as morning glory…

    Anyway, beautiful pics, as usual..

    1. thank you Lrong for reminding me they are not of the same family! That is good for now I can fit my rotation cycle in our small space.
      Always good to hear from you + I sure miss your posts and beautiful pictures:-)

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