Hoping for Prettier Sweet Potatoes

| 7/3/2012 10:29:18 AM

Tags: organic gardening, sweet potatoes, drip irrigation, mulching, Cam Mather,

I got serious about sweet potatoes this year.

I have been growing them successfully for a couple of years now, but my production has been inconsistent. I have grown some dandy, perfect, awesome looking sweet potatoes. I’ve also grown some massive, gnarly, wrinkled, and crazy looking ones that tasted fine but looked terrifying. I was okay about eating the bizarre looking ones, but with running the CSA this year I want to make sure that they are as pretty as well as delicious. 

So I followed the suggestions in Ken Allan’s book about growing sweet potatoes. Ken Allan is a local author/gardener who specializes in sweet potatoes. He’s the “local sweet potato guy.” I’ve always wanted to be one of those “experts” in a field … that “’fill-in-the-blank” guy. Totally immersed in and knowledgeable on every aspect of a subject. I think people around here see me as that “renewable energy guy” thanks to the numerous Green Energy Fairs that I have organized. And that’s good. But with interests in energy and food and sustainability and personal resilience I’m afraid I’m more of a generalist. Which helps with the workshops that we offer here at Sunflower Farm. We talk about energy in general, and renewable energy, and growing food and storing food, and economics and a variety of other issues that our participants are interested in. 

But this summer I am trying upgrade my sweet potato growing skills. 

I think one of my problems that I’ve experienced in the past has been an issue with water. In previous summers I’ve been so busy dealing with drought conditions in the rest of my one-acre of vegetable gardens, that I have a tendency to overlook the sweet potatoes. They “look” like they handle droughts, but I think a lack of water has seriously affected the cosmetic appeal of the final product. 

I also think that I may not have been getting enough heat to them.  Sweet potatoes are a tropical tuber and they love heat. Here in Ontario we’ve been getting hot summers but I sense at the beginning and end of the season I may be missing the boat as the days cool off and the nights really get cool. 

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