Sweet Potato Patch

I love my sweet potato patch. To get started though, you need to find the fledgling tubers. Locally, Alameda Nursery Greenhouse starts them but if they have sold out, you might have to mail order. Those slips will arrive all brown and limp but soaking overnight revives them so you can plant early the next morning. *

My patch has 18 inches of topsoil so the potatoes can get by with a medium amount of water. When in the ground, the thick maze of vines colonize the sidewalk and try to climb a wall, shutting out late summer competition from purslane and quelites. Since most people don’t recognize the plant, they don’t take the potatoes, so I let them grow in my front yard where there is lots of heat and sun.

I dig them up late October, gently with a fork so I don’t end up slicing any. One six ounce tuber with some slips can yield eight to ten potatoes. To keep them throughout the winter, you have to cure them. Do this by keeping them in a warm and humid place for a couple weeks so the skins will toughen. I put them in a plastic bin and cover with a moist towel.

 I highly recommend this high calorie crop, also rich in Vitamin C, and easy to grow in the mid Rio Grande watershed.

*You can start your own by half-submerging one or more potatoes in water. After a month, there will be fairly well-developed branches. Take these branches off the main tuber and submerge them in water until roots develop; it should take another two weeks.