The Sweet Potato Ponanza! The thing I was most excited about growing this year were potatoes. Both regular potatoes and sweet potatoes. I really like growing things that can be stored throughout the fall/winter. Things like carrots, beets, and potatoes. And squash.
I also really like to show you all that I’ve done through an assortment of beautiful photographs and video.
I’m really sorry I don’t have pictures or video footage of me harvesting my sweet potatoes, but I looked awful the day I had to dig up the sweet potatoes. Flat hair, dull skin, clothes I should have thrown out 15 years ago.
On Sweet Potato digging day I looked the kind of awful where neighbours ask “So, how long have you had the plague?”.
I did manage to get a few shots where I am not visible at all. If I *am* visible in some reflection on a leaf or something please know, those are just some dry patches on my face, not scabies and I’m working on getting rid of them.
O.K. I lied to you, I do have video footage. I didn’t want to tell you. Please don’t look at it. At the very least don’t look at me.
I planted 12-15 sweet potato slips on June 1st. I harvested them around the second week of October. This is how it went …
So from the slips that I planted in an approximately 5′ x 5′ area, I harvested 25 lbs of sweet potatoes. That works out to a pound of sweet potato per square foot.
Harvesting sweet potatoes doesn’t end with digging them up. Once you dig them up you have to let them dry in the sun for a few hours. Then they need to be brought inside and cured for 10 days, and then cured some more for another month or so.
Apparently the optimal conditions for curing sweet potatoes are in an 85 degree room at 85 percent humidity. Um … sure.
I came up with what I think is a pretty good solution to this ridiculous curing demand that so many websites just brushed aside. I mean, other than storing the potatoes in the bathroom during a luxurious 10 day long shower with the help of the world’s largest hot water tank … how were you supposed to get a room at 85 degrees and 85 percent humidity?
I ended up putting my sweet potatoes in a couple of cardboard boxes which I kept sitting right beside the fireplace which we light every night. If you don’t have a fireplace (gas, wood or otherwise) put the box in the warmest area of your house. By the heat register for example. Then, I got a very damp dish towel and placed it over the top of the cardboard box instead of a lid. Over that, I draped a plastic bag to hold the moisture in the towel and therefore the humidity in the box.
Every night I checked the temperature inside the box as it sat by the fireplace and it was consistently 85 degrees while the fire was going, but closer to 75 while it wasn’t. Better than nothin’ I think. Humidity level seemed good.
I cured the potatoes for 10 days like that, and am now in the process of the second stage of curing. All that involves in storing the potatoes in an area that’s 55 – 60 degrees and waiting for another month to eat them. My mudroom has good conditions for this. And if it gets too cold in there I’ll just fill the box with straw (which is great insulator) and put the sweet potatoes in that.
Why all the fuss about this curing business? The initial cure at 85 degrees and 85% humidity helps to heal any scars on the sweet potatoes and also keeps them full of moisture. Doing this keeps the sweet potatoes from getting soft and drying out later on. It also starts the sugar process.
Sweet potatoes you see, aren’t actually sweet when you first dig them up. The additional curing and storing the sweet potatoes for a month or so allows the sweet potatoes to develop their natural sweetness. They’re fine for using in a pie or something you add sugar to, but if you’re eating them plain, baked or fried you need to let them develop their sugar before eating them.
Looking for something that’s easier to store throughout the winter? Fat cells. Give those a shot.
Wanna see the bizarro sweet potato problems you’ll encounter if you try to grow them in bags? Go behind the scenes of this post and find out here.