As promised, I am reminding you that this is the time to start your sweet potato slips(plants). There are some places that sell them, but I find it easy to start them myself. In fact when I was cleaning out my potato/onion basket I found some sweet potatoes sprouting. I love it when I get a head start on Spring planting without doing anything except storing an old potato!
Sweet potatoes are very different from the regular Irish potato. They are actually a tropical plant that is related to the morning glory. While Irish potatoes like it cool, the sweet potato thrives in the hot humid sunshine. So for my friends who have moved here from up North the sweet potato is here to welcome you to Texas! It is one of the few things that will thrive in the intense heat of Summer. The fun thing about this, is that it is NOT just the tuber/root you can eat, but the leaves make a great summer green. You can saute them with eggs, rice, beans basically anything you would use spinach, kale or Swiss chard in, you can now reach for your sweet potato greens. Many people in other countries don’t eat the tuber at all, but grow these for the green tops only. See how my friend from Africa introduced me to the sweet potato green; here.
I was just talking with my love the other day about how when you eat seasonally, at least in Texas, you are not going to get a salad with tomatoes in it. Nor are you going to get a hot sauce with cilantro in it. Why? Because salad greens and cilantro like it cool and tomatoes and peppers like it hot. So whoever came up with a tossed salad with tomatoes and greens did not reside in Texas! Funny how we think differently when we can ship things across the country. I had an ah haa moment when I was complaining to a friend that I couldn’t afford to eat organic. She answered my grumble with the idea that if I would eat only what is local and in season at the time, I probably could afford to eat all organic fruits and veggies. Isn’t that interesting. As Americans we are used to getting what we want when we want it, but as a farmer your brain starts to think on a different path. For instance it has been a long time since we ate a tender yellow crookneck squash, but when the warm weather comes on, God willing, we will have more than we know what to do with. Late Summer is the time for sweet potatoes, watermelon and okra gumbo. Some things you can store, but each season has it’s star. One of the stars of Summer is sweet potato greens. See how I started my sweet potato pit here.
Now that Goliath(Giant Elm tree) has been defeated, my boys were nice enough to attack/chop up the mesh of roots in my sweet potato pit. So I am back in business for sweet potatoes! Woo hoo, thank you boys! One of the new comers to my garden is Egyptian Spinach. This is suppose to be a bushy green that takes the intense summer heat. The plants are very small now so jury is still out on how they taste. I will let you know. Egyptian spinach might be a good go to green of summer also?
Make sure if you buy sweet potatoes to sprout, that you buy organic because most potatoes are sprayed with a chemical that retards those little shoots. I started my sweet potatoes by cutting off all those sprouting ends, letting the fresh cuts air dry for a while and then planting them in a oval shallow pot. If your potatoes don’t have sprouts yet, not to worry, plant them shallowly in a well drained pot(so they won’t rot before they sprout) and be amazed when the shoots come up. Or you can do like we did as kids and push toothpicks into a piece and rest it in a jar with water in a sunny windowsill. That way you and your kids can watch them grow. Either way you decide to start, plant the little plants in a loose loamy soil(raised bed in Texas) in full sun. Make a sweet potato pit like I did! See here: http://bloomwhereyourplanted.com/the-sweet-potato-pit/ You can harvest greens throughout the Summer and enjoy those sweet potatoes in the Fall. I think that is gardener speak for; you can have your cake and eat it too!
This post was shared on Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop