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Sweet Potato

Ipomoea batatas 'Purple Molokai'

Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas)

Okay, I really like the botanical name of sweet potatoes. Now that we have that out of the way, we are collecting some sweet potato varieties to grow and see which we like best.  For some, we have them locally and are trying them before sprouting slips - although home grown may influence flavor, so we may propagate the 'meh' ones anyway.

Sweet potatoes need acidic and loose soil. Can do with poor soil, but does better with some nice cushy soil with amendments. On to the trials...

Let's Get Growin

SUN: Afternoon shade, maybe. Lower yields in shade.
WATER: Water regularly
SOIL PH: 4.5-6.5
FERTILIZER: Historically, sweet potatoes have been a poor soil crop that produces a decent harvest in imperfect soil, but will do much better with a little fertilizer. About 2 weeks after planting, feed plants with a balanced organic or timed-release fertilizer that contains potassium (the third number on the fertilizer label), such as 5-10-10. Use about 2 cups 5-10-10 per 30 square feet (a 10-foot row). Gently scratch the fertilizer into the soil surface. Then mulch over the soil with an inch of grass clippings or another biodegradable mulch. Continue weeding and adding more mulch for another month. After that, sweet potatoes can usually fend for themselves, though they do benefit from weekly deep watering during serious droughts.

Sweet potato and gourd vines

October 6, 2018 - Vines Everywhere

Let us just say, I had no idea how prolific the potato vines are.  I had assumed planting them about four feet apart would be a decent spacing and we would get some coverage between our trees.

We did not expect to have such prolific growth of vines.  These make a gorgeous ground cover.  The ladybugs, lizards and predatory bugs just love them.  It looks really nice too.

We are getting close to the end of the season where it is time to start harvesting these babies. Wonder how much we have growing under ground here.  When we dig up the potatoes, the vines will be used for compost material and be added back to the garden soil eventually.

While this is really nice, we aren't sure this is the best inter-planting choice around trees like figs. 

December 9, 2017 More Potatoes
Variety of sweet potatoes

We have received the Japanese and Okinawa purple potatoes, picked up some jewel potatoes and the plain whites from the local grocery.

I wanted to experiment with sweet potato chips.  As it turns out, making chips anything is a huge PITA because you must have even heating and enough room to circulate.  you could maybe do one potato at a time... That is just not how we do things here...

We broke out the mandoline and started slicing and dicing the potatoes, which provided us with a rainbow of potato slices.  I was especially impressed with the Jewel and Okinawa purple, as they packed some really nice color. The whites were kind of bland both fresh and after baking.  The purples had more of a starchy flavor than the jewel.

Variety of sweet potato slices.
As reported, the purple had a firmer texture - more fibrous, IMO.  The jewel was the worst for crisping up, but once crisp had the best flavor.  It could have something to do with how long they sugar up before use...  I do not know for sure.

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And because we do not know for sure, we will be trying to grow
slips for each of these varieties.

So far we should have two purple varieties (one white, one purple skin), the dark orange type (jewel) and a couple of the white flesh varieties, but with red and pink skin.  For future sweet potato chip making, we may go smaller scale using a dehydrator instead.  Not so much of a PITA.

Ipomoea batatas 'Purple Molokai' slips

December 6, 2017  Purple Molokai Slips Arrived

We received our purple molokai slips via mail today. They looked a tad wilted and some had roots, some did not, so we stuck them in a glass of water.

The eBay seller received predominantly good reviews, so we took a risk and bought them. I thought we were getting ends and slips, but we just have the slips.

Purple sweet potatoes are used to make some knock out gnocchi, which I totally crushed on...  Then to find that the purple sweet potatoes are drier and more crisp than the other types confirmed that I need these in order to make some fine sweet potato chips and crostinis. 

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