One Sweet Potato, Two Sweet Potato

I’ve dug two sweet potato plants out early, well ahead of the first frost, which is when they will all need to be removed from the ground. The plant on the left yielded over four pounds of usable tuber. We’ve already eaten one tuber that weighed a little over a pound. The plant on the right will give us just over three pounds. So if our average continues, we could get about seventy pounds of sweet potatoes from 20 plants started in one bed.

The potatoes actually become sweeter and taste better after they’ve cured, but they are still quite usable right out of the ground. Judy has a recipe for sweet potato quesadillas that uses shredded sweet potato as the filler. It’s our favorite sweet potato recipe. The fresh sweet potatoes work just as well as ones out of storage. The new potatoes also can be used immediately in dishes like stir fries and casseroles, but they lack the sweetness for pies and baking.

We’ll cure the potatoes by keeping them in the warm kitchen for at least two weeks. Then we individually wrap each tuber in newspaper and store the crop in five gallon pails or on shelves in the basement. The stored sweet potatoes can last nine months, easily. We’ve frequently gotten them to last well over a year. The trick is to use the little tubers up first. They don’t last, but the big one have lots of storage power.

If you have the room in your garden, sweet potatoes are a great vegetable. They are quite easy to grow, although they do require a little bit of special culture. And while we don’t get some of the insect problems that southern growers encounter, voles, and wireworms can be a problem under the ground. Above ground I’ve never had a problem with insects, but deer and groundhogs love the vines.

This year, the plants appear very healthy above and below, so we expect an excellent harvest.

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