Carol Stein grows it
The heart-shaped leaves of sweet potato vines are attractive additions to the garden. So attractive, in fact, that someone came up with ornamental sweet potato vines a few years ago.
But those wont give you tasty tubers for the table.
To have sweet potatoes this fall, plant them now. Set out the plants in full sun both in the garden and in containers.
For container growing, use pots that are at least 18 inches deep and wide, and fill with loose, fresh potting mix and/or organic compost. Space the plants at least 10 inches apart. Check that the drainage holes arent blocked, because the tubers need well-drained soil; they dont like being waterlogged. Water deeply once a week rather than moistening the surface of the soil daily.
In a garden, varieties like Porto Rico-198, Jewel or Pope fare well in large spaces. The vines can reach as long as 20 feet and will root wherever they touch the soil. Bush Porto Rico is a compact variety for small gardens or large containers.
It takes 12 to 15 weeks for sweet potatoes to mature. Begin harvesting when the vines start to yellow and die back. A light frost may blacken the vines without harming the potatoes, but dont wait too long to harvest if the vines turn dark, because the tubers will quickly become vulnerable to insect damage or rot.
To harvest, gently dig down until you can easily lift the vines. Then separate the tubers from the roots, brush off excess soil and lay the potatoes in a single layer in a warm, well-ventilated area for a week. That will allow the tender skins to harden slightly.
Debbie Moose cooks it
The world has dubbed the sweet potato a superfood for its nutritional power. The vegetable is high in calcium, folate and beta-carotene, while having a lower glycemic index than white potatoes. All thats fine, but I just call them good eating.
Sweet potatoes come in classic orange along with white and even purple. For any variety, look for potatoes without soft or black spots. They should be firm and have a good heft in your hand when you hold them.
Store sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate. Use them within a couple of weeks.
Im a fan of sweet potatoes in every form, and its a shame to limit them to Thanksgiving. Serve this salad at your next picnic as a change from regular potato salad.
Reach freelance writers Debbie Moose and Carol Stein at email@example.com.