Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite perennials. I plant them as pioneering species and ground covers around trees and shrubs. Their young leaves are a staple in the kitchen and we often eat their healthy tubers. My chickens occasionally get the surplus greens, cooked peels and less savory parts of the tubers.
One of the core permaculture principles is to obtain a good yield. When I’ve seen the prolific purple giants my friend Annora was growing, I knew I wanted them to invade my garden. Propagating sweet potato is very easy. Cuttings can be inserted into good soil and will grow happily, if watered. I usually put them in the water and wait till they developed roots.
The cuttings went in in late spring. Yesterday (early July) I went to check up on my baby bamboo and discovered a mother of sweet potatoes lurking close to the surface. HUGE. Purple. Ready to harvest.
I usually grow white and Okinawa. They take a long time to mature, are slender and they don’t just resurface like enormous whales – one has to dig deep. I was very impressed with purple monsters that exceeded 2.5kg in one season and were so easy to find… There where four near the bamboo, a few under the avocado and a couple under the mulberry. The biggest was well over 3kg. I think they are going to be my new favorite variety. I already started planting cuttings under other trees.
A few of those beauties are already diced and in the freezer. We gave a few away and there are still a few in the ground. Time to prepare a big sweet potato patch.
I prefer the taste of the white potato leaves – especially now when they are plump with winter rains. Tips and young leaves are great steamed and added to stews and curries and they are one of the rare greens that are happy in our summer.