We harvested a small patch of sweet potatoes about a month ago so we had space to plant some fall crops. That gave us about 60lbs of mostly purple and orange tubers.
On Saturday, however, we started pulling some of the sweet potatoes we planted in the Grocery Row Gardens. Apparently, they really like that system. The pure white variety did especially well:
Here’s the largest one we pulled, clocking in at a terrifying SIX pounds!
We only pulled about five plants so far, but that gave us enough sweet potatoes to last a couple of weeks.
Here’s a shot of our harvest basket sitting in the pathway:
You can see how burned the galangal ginger looks from the heat and drought of summer, yet we still are getting good yields. I wonder what it would have been like if we got our normal rainfall?
Apparently, this area has received about 15 inches less rain than usual. August is a great month for growing tropical vegetables here. Normally, the heat and the rains lead to explosive growth in our yams, cassava, sugarcane, sweet potatoes and okra, which fill in the gap left by all the less heat-tolerant spring vegetables that give up when temps soar into the 90’s.
This year, though, we had a terribly dry August that had temperatures pinging 100 and higher without any rain. That burned the leaves of bananas and malanga and ginger and kept many of the other heat lovers from reaching their potential.
And it’s still dry out, meaning that we probably won’t get a chance for good growth before chilly temperatures end the gardening season.
Yet even with all that, the sweet potatoes did well. I’m not sure where we originally got this white type but it’s definitely a keeper. We hope to offer slips from our nursery in the spring, as well as from the deep purple variety, which has also been a winner through rain and drought.
I do love the way the Grocery Row Gardens have given us good yields within a year, even before the trees and berries have started producing!
This is the little Grocery Row Gardening booklet I wrote on how you can build your own multi-level perennial/annual permaculture garden system:
I wrote it back before we even had good soil or enough mulch – and it worked well then! Thus far, it’s been tested on three different plots of ground, and we’re also getting people who are trying it in various climates, ranging from Delaware to South Africa.
Later today we hope to post a video showing some of the sweet potato harvest.
The pigs really like it when we pull potatoes, too, since they love to eat the vines:
This is another “permaculture principle,” as you probably remember: stacking functions!
Sweet Potato Uses
Growing sweet potatoes gives us:
- A weed-suppressing ground cover
- Edible greens
- Edible roots
- Vines which feed the pigs
- Habitat for useful creatures
- A living mulch
Plus, we get bragging rights when we pull out gigantic roots.
Harvesting root crops is one of our very favorite garden tasks. It’s fun for the whole family – like digging treasure!
We’ll let you know how the final yields turn out. There are still many more sweet potatoes to harvest.