Sunday, November 23, 2014
Sunday Reading - Sweet Potato the Final Verdict
Well the final verdict is in on this year's Sweet Potato experiment. As most of you know I try and add something new or try a new experiment each year to see how it will fit in with the plan of sustainable small farm agriculture around here. Farming in general is of course regional regardless of scale but small organic farming seems to be even more regional in my humble opinion. Others experiences may vary I guess but I never really seem to know how something is going to turn out under my local conditions until I do it.
This year was my first attempt at growing Sweet Potatoes. Tuber crops in general here require a bit more care than I have been told they do in other parts of the country. The rainy season combined with our heavy soils tend to rot the root crops before they can get a foot hold. Prior to late June it seems the best way to grow Potatoes here is in well draining raised beds....
Readers note: Preferably well draining raised beds that look pleasing to the eye is the best option, with solid wooden sides that fit the pastoral scene of rural calmness that comes as a nice side effect to homesteading. Not round, black rubber eyesores :)
I couldn't resist a bit of teasing towards our old tire friends here folks, it was meant in jest so don't take offense.
.... So I planted four little plants of Sweet Potatoes in a bed all their own and just let em go all Summer.
I was really impressed with how they took off and the yield from the little 8x4' bed was pretty impressive.
My son accused me of harvesting cow embryos when I dug em out of the ground. To be honest I was kinda surprised at the size. I had never seen Sweet Potatoes so big. I didn't know they came that way.
Next was the drying and curing process. I almost failed this as I didn't research this part ahead of time but once you pull the potatoes out of the ground you are only about half finished. They require a curing process in the 75+ degree range for a few weeks to turn the starches inside into sugars.
Lucky for us we had a relatively warm first part of the Fall and I was able to achieve the proper storage and curing temps/conditions in my tool shed. It stays pretty warm in there until Winter hits and is fairly well insulated.
Finally right before the first cold snap we had I brought them inside to finish the process in the front room that gets the bulk of the wood furnace air.
Last night was the final test. Mrs. PP found a recipe she liked and roasted one of the big ones (cut up of course) in olive oil and oregano. It really was quite good and apparently I handled the curing process just perfectly as it had a nice sweet flavor without being unduly so or over powering like all the candied, marshmallow type recipes I had tried before.
Another great side benefit to growing Sweet Potatoes was that the vines are not poisonous and were very prolific. I fed a bunch of them to the sheep as well after reading that the vines are commonly used as fodder in other parts of the world. It also grew in so thick the super-powered weeds we have around here couldn't keep up.
Definitely a crop I am going to continue growing and push the production up on as well.
Frankly I found that I loved them and look forward to eating plenty more.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!