Upon opening the box, we may appear to be somewhat pale or brown in color but WE ARE alive and well. We look this way because we have been enclosed in this dark box for a few days. Our leaves and roots have been conditioned for this journey, but we need to be planted as soon as possible. Please return us to the good earth and give us a nice drink of water and we will reward you with a bountiful harvest.
A southern exposure & good drainage of sandy loam soil & PH of 5.0–6.0 is ideal for growing quality sweet potatoes. (1)Till the soil deep in Spring 2-3 wks before planting; (2) Per 25 ft. row: mix together & till in row 3 lbs. of 8-8-8 fert. (3) Make Bedded rows approx. 36”-42” apart. Bed rows should be 8-10 inches high & 12-14 inches wide & flat on top. Northern gardeners should consider laying black plastic over bed rows 1 week before planting. cut 3X3 inch holes in plastic for planting.
Set plants asap upon arrival. Best time is 2 hrs. before dark. If planting is not possible due to unusually cold (soil temperature should be above 65°) or wet weather, remove plants & wrapping from box, stand upright in shady place under protection from frost, rain, wind, sun. (Don’t wet leaves) keep roots damp only. Longtime survival;keep plant roots on wet moss, sawdust,newspapers, etc. 12-100 plants set in flower pots in house until weather improves. Plant spacing 10”-16”. Wide spacing of plants should speed up maturity. Short spacing a more uniform & possibly more smaller baking size.Use a small garden tool or hand to set plants approx. 3–4 inches deep or leave one node above ground.
Uncontrolled grass-weeds can destroy your potato crop. Sidedress your plants 30 days after transplanting with 8-8-8 Fert. 3 Lbs. per 25 Ft. row. This will feed the roots @ the proper time for an abundant yield. Sweet potatos need about one half inch of water per week in 85–100 deg.temps. Apply Sevin or Malathion @ 2 tbsp. per gallon of water every 10–14 days beginning around June 20th.
Check your sweet potatoes around 90 days by digging underneath your rows with a fork or shovel, making sure not to detach potatoes from vines. If not to your satisfaction gently lower back into the ground and cover with soil. Dig your potatoes no later than light frost.
As you can see, sweet potatoes are good for you!
Little known facts about sweet potatoes
The Wellness Farm, Inc.
19310 Dutton Road
Stewartstown, PA 17363
The PA SweetPotato Festival –the last Saturday in September. Dig-Your-Own-sweetpotatoes food, prizes, and music!www.pasweetpotatofestival.com
- One medium baked sweetpotato supplies more than twice the RDA for (beta carotene) Vitamin A, over 1/3 for Vitamin C and 10% for iron. Sweetpotatoes are also one of the few non-fat sources of Vitamin E.
- Sweetpotatoes (when eaten with the skin) have more dietary fiber (3 gm) than oatmeal (2.2 gm) per serving.
- In the Nutrition Action Healthletter from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (Washington, D.C.), sweetpotatoes are rated as the super food … #1 nutritional All-Star. (They also contain anti-cancer properties.)
- Unfortunately, per capita consumption in the USA has fallen from more than 20 pounds per year in the 1930’s to 13.9 pounds in 1949 to a low of 3.9 pounds in 1993. [One serving/wk would equal 13 lbs. per year.]
- Slow-baked (300-325 degrees) sweetpotatoes appear “sweeter” because of a natural enzyme (beta amylase). It works best at 171 degrees (internally) but is inactivated at 203 degrees. The texture is also smoother because slow baking changes the starch to malt sugar and some of the malt sugar to a moist caramelized sugar. Crock-pots, steaming, micro-waving, stewing, pan-frying, boiling, and grilling are options too.*
*Do not cut sweetpotatoes with a carbon-based knife. (The sweetpotatoes will discolor.) Use only stainless steel knives.
- There are over 5,600 varieties of sweetpotatoes (“kumara” in New Zealand). Dozens are available in the USA. Beauregard, Carolina Ruby, Hernandez, Georgia Jet, Hayman, HeartoGold are just a few. The Wellness Farm usually grows 12+ varieties, evenMolokai purple-fleshed. Covington (NC) and Evangeline (LA) are new varieties.
- Sweetpotato (as one word) is now the preferred spelling rather than sweet potato. The sweetpotato is not a tuber like the white potato. The sweetpotato is not a potato that is sweet but a storage root in its own class.
- Sweetpotatoes are part of the morning glory family –Convolvulacae. (Check the leaves and flowers.)
- They are really storage roots and native to South America; yams are tubers of the lily family, native to Africa.
- Sweetpotatoes (Ipomoea batatas) grow for 90 to 120 days; yams take from 180 to 350 days to mature.
- Propagation of the sweetpotato is done through slips – sprouts from the sweetpotato or from vine cuttings.
- At temperatures below 55 degrees, sweetpotatoes incur the “chilling injury.” The cold chill factor results in a hardcore flesh (no matter how long it’s cooked); discoloration and shrinkage will also occur. Therefore, do not refrigerate sweetpotatoes. Keep them at room temperature or between 55 to 65 degrees for storage.
- Harvested sweetpotatoes need to be cured in order to make it through storage. Immediately following the harvest the roots are kept at 85 to 90 degrees and 85% humidity for 6 -7 days. This process allows a layer of “suberin” – a wax-like substance that serves as an organic “plastic baggy” keeping moisture in and helping to heal wounds. Curing also improves the flavor by activating enzymes. Uncured sweetpotatoes will not store well or for long.
- A properly cured sweetpotato can sit on the dinning room table for 6 months without significant deterioration.
- Growing your own sweetpotatoes allows you to control the quality of the curing/storing process. Some commercially grown sweetpotatoes are “mishandled” and mistakenly refrigerated at retail stores.
- China grows about 80% of the world production of sweetpotatoes. “Sweetpotatoes: A treasure for the poor.” CIP
- With 133 million tons in annual world production, the sweetpotato ranks as the seventh most important food crop in developing countries behind wheat, rice, corn (maize), potato, barley and cassava. The United States produces less than 5% of the world’s crop. North Carolina is the leading sweetpotato producer in the USA.
- During the third month of growth, sweetpotatoes can withstand moderate droughts and still produce a good crop.
- Sweetpotatoes have more nutrients per acre than any other major crop. Try growing your own! Eat SP 2x/week.
- “Jesus is the sweetpotato of life.” translation of scripture (John 6:35) for Dani people of Papua, Indonesia.
For more information check out the following: Ken Allan.Sweetpotatoes for the Home Garden. Green Spade Books, 61 South Bartlett St., Kingston, Ontario K7K1X3, 1998. ($20)
(Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission)
(National Sweetpotato Collaborators Group)