I love growing Sweet Potatoes! All things considered, they are a fairly easy crop to grow. At the end of May, you just stick some little plants, called slips, into the ground and at the end of the season you dig up these enormous sweet potatoes. In between, you just watch the vines grow bigger and bigger. This past year, I grew two different varieties: the trusted Beauregard and Puerto Rico, a sweet, light colored variety.
|Sweet Potatoes taking over the garden (dark foliage)|
The only big problem seems to be mice and voles that like to eat the sweet potatoes and built entire nest under the safety of the abundant foliage. They seem to move in sometime in August. So far, the only way to control these critters seems to be with old fashioned mouse traps baited with a piece of apple. I put down the traps in the late afternoon and usually I will have caught at least one critter by the next morning. I just keep setting traps until they stay empty. It may seem a bit cruel, but the mice/voles don’t suffer like they would in glue traps and there is no poison that might harm other animals.
I store the sweet potatoes in a closet. The first time I ever grew sweet potatoes, I stored them in our unheated garage with the regular potatoes. Well, that was not a good idea. Sweet potatoes do not like to be cold, so they all rotted. That is why they are now in the closet of our guest room.
|Peeled Sweet Potatoes: Puerto Rico (top) and Beauregard|
Not only do I love to GROW sweet potatoes, my family also loves to EAT them. Our favorite dish is not the traditional mashed sweet potatoes, but sweet potato “fries”. Here is how I make them. I start by peeling the potatoes (this is where those gigantic ones come in handy; one sweet potato is enough for an entire meal).
Then I cut the potatoes into strips that look like french fries. Most recipes will tell you to put the “fries” in a bowl and toss them with oil and salt. However, I don’t really like to do dishes, so I just put the “fries” onto cookie sheet and pour olive oil straight over them. I also add salt, pepper and rosemary! I twirl the sweet potato fries around with may hands and spread them out in a single layer (my poor gardening hands seem to really appreciate being coated in olive oil as well!)
|Ready to go into the oven|
I stick the cookie sheets in a preheated oven (425 degrees) for about 20-25 minutes. When they come out, they are all nice and crisp and they smell amazing. Add them to a plate with some green vegetables and all of a sudden, you have a very colorful meal. I hope I convinced you to give sweet potatoes a try in 2013.
|Sweet Potato “fries” and a slaw made with winter veggies|