Sweet southern spuds in a northern garden(Read article summary)
While searching for spuds to plant, this northern gardener discovers 25 sweet surprises.
Courtesy of Craig Summers Black
My girls really like sweet potatoes. Well, not everybody’s perfect.
But I am a loving husband and father, and if they want me to plant the dang things, I most certainly will. Because these marching orders will probably be the only garden activity these two will deign to participate in this year.
So off I went to the nursery in search of the elusive orange french-fry material.
I was new to potato farming when we moved to Iowa many years ago. Since then I have acquired something of a rep for my Yukon Golds. Even my in-laws, who do not quite approve of me, lust after my spuds. Those Yukon Golds are, I must admit, hard to part with.
So that's what sweet potato seedlings look like
So you will imagine my surprise when I told the nursery owner I wanted to plant sweet potatoes and he handed me a little black nursery pot with what looked like a houttuynia, that wildly spreading ground cover, peeking out of it. [See Photo 1 above.]
Huh? No little orange seed spuds to cut up?
“That’s your sweet potatoes,” the guy said, and rather gruffly I thought. “Twenty-five of them.”
Really? OK, if you say so.
“But I wouldn’t plant ’em yet,” he said. “Still too cold. If we get another night in the 30s, you’ll have to cover ’em. Better wait till May 1.”
I nodded my head obediently. But, hey, fat chance.
Who could resist planting now?
I drove home and immediately spilled out the contents of the pot. The state ag department says the soil temp is, surprisingly, already in the upper 50s at the moment, and if the farmers hereabouts have commenced planting their corn and beans, so I decided to plant these taters right now.
Sure enough, once I emptied the nursery pot, the little slips were easily separated, looking kind of like 25 forlorn little salad sprouts.[See Photo No. 2 above.]
I planted them 10 to 12 inches apart (you can see on each slip where the soil level was). [See Photo No. 3 above.] I watered them dutifully.
And now all I have to do is wait, as you do for regular potatoes, until the mature foliage starts to yellow – and then dig them up.
So I can report that I will have done each and every thing that the girls have requested. But they still can’t make me eat no sweet potatoes. No, sir.
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