Grow Sweet Potatoes — Even in the North

This nutritious, easy-to-store crop is one of the best staples for anyone looking to be food self-sufficient.


| June/July 2011


An ideal staple crop for those seeking to meet most of their food needs with homegrown produce would be nutrient-dense, offer high yields, and have excellent flavor and storage qualities. A crop that fits this bill perfectly? The sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes are more nutritious and store better than any other root crop — they’re easy for home gardeners to keep for a full year. And while many people think of them as a Southern crop, you can in fact easily grow sweet potatoes in northern climates.

Unforgettable Flavor

I’ve been growing (in Canada!) and learning about sweet potatoes since the mid-1980s, when my friend, Suzanne Mason, who lives in South Carolina in the winter, brought me a half-bushel of cured sweet potatoes. They were incredibly sweet and delicious. I thought I knew sweet potatoes, but I never imagined they could be this good!

I wondered whether Suzanne’s grower in South Carolina had a secret. There must be a secret, or I wouldn’t have gone my entire life without coming across this superb flavor.

I now know that the matter is a bit more complicated than one simple secret. There are five facts about sweet potatoes that may seem like they’re secrets — because a sweet potato rarely makes the trip from field to dinner table without one or more of these facts being ignored — but none of them is optional if you want truly great sweet potatoes. Each ’tater truth by itself, if neglected, is sufficient to reduce flavor.

Five Facts for Fabulous Sweet Potatoes

1. Sweet potatoes are alive and they breathe. Never store them in a sealed plastic bag — the gases from their respiration will build up and the potatoes will eventually poison themselves. Paper bags or boxes are good for storage, or throw plastic tarps loosely over your crates of sweet potatoes. In fact, as long as you take care with the curing process (see fact No. 4) and store them at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you don’t need to cover sweet potatoes at all during storage (unless rodents could access them).

sweeteanniey
10/2/2017 9:31:24 PM

So..do you leave the clear plastic down the whole growing season?


sweeteanniey
10/2/2017 9:31:20 PM

So..do you leave the clear plastic down the whole growing season?


sweeteanniey
10/2/2017 9:31:16 PM

So..do you leave the clear plastic down the whole growing season?






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