What vegetable could be more iconic for fall than the sweet potato?
"Some people call these vegetables yams. Other people call these vegetables yams. Other people call them sweet potatoes. Both are right," Said the Lousiana Sweet Potato Commission. Sweet potatoes make an excellent fall harvest. This versatile tuber is the ideal vegetable for the Houston area because it is easy to plant, low maintenance for lazy gardners during hte hot summer months and a powerhouse of nutrition.
The sweet potato is a tropical vegetable native to South America therefore thrives in Houston's relentless heat of late summer. They are planted by slips, whcih are the cut and rooted vines of sweet potato.
When planted in May and June, You'll find them over growing their beds come fall. They are a school garden favorite! These tubers prefer a sandy loam soil so the addition of sand and a little compost to your garden ed will increase the size and numbers of your harvest. If the soil is too nutrient reich,the tubers may stay small and stringy. They will tolerat a heavier, though still friable soil underneath the lighter mix.
Sweet potatoes form a thick-ground cover and inhibit nutgrass and weeds, and be sure to control weeds before the sweet potatoes have covered the bed completely. They mature 100-140 days from planting.
Photo avove: A school garden after summer. The sweet potato vines are on the right. They grow into a lovely ground cover. Our tomaoes which were thriving in May and June are now kaput and the bermuda completely took over!
Harvest before temperatures dip below 50 degrees. You can check for readiness much likne an archeological dig by excavating gently without disturbing or nicking the roots. IF they are the desired size, then they are ready for harvest.
Sweet potatoes are rated as the No.1 vegetabel in nutrition, beating out spinach and broccoli in nutrition comparisons accourdint to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Our favorite school garden recipe is to simply cut, spray a bit of olive oil and grill on a portable plug in grill. Then, add a touch of salt and serve.
Grow sustainable healthy communities with us by enjoying locally grown sweet potatoes throught the fall and winter. They can be found at our Urban Harvest Farmers Market August through February.