Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sweet Potato Harvest

I just wanted to do a little follow-up on my June post about starting sweet potato slips and planting them.

I had originally planted 14 slips in a bed that measured about three feet by twelve feet.  

Of those 14 slips, 12 of them lived to maturity.  In mid-October I decided that it was time to harvest them.  Although we hadn’t had a frost yet, the weather was getting cooler and wetter, and the vines were beginning to lose a little of their color; so I decided I’d dig up at least one hill just to see if they were ready.

I pulled back the vines and could see a potato jutting up out of the ground, so I used my hands (thanks to the addition of a lot of sand the soil is very loose) and dug down around the potato.  What was sticking out of the ground was just the tip of the iceberg.  There was a pile of sweet potatoes down there.

I went ahead and dug all of the hills and laid the potatoes out in the sun so the skins would set.

That afternoon I went out and brushed the dirt off of them (never wash them until you are ready to cook them) and hauled them up to the house.  According to the scale I had 46 pounds of sweet potatoes.  That’s an average of a little more than 1.7 pounds per square foot.  Pretty good return on investment.

I laid the sweet potatoes out, not touching, in a warm, dark room to cure for two weeks.  This increases the sugar content of the potatoes.  After two weeks we started eating and boy are they good.

By the way, did you know that sweet potatoes are a staple of the Okinawan diet, and that the Okinawans have the longest average life expectancy of any people on earth?  Could it be the sweet potatoes?

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