Passion for potatoes

by Pippa Greenwood

It was definitely NOT the best year to choose to grow large numbers of sweet potatoes, but yes, it was the year that I did so!

sweet potatoesIt was definitely NOT the best year to choose to grow large numbers of sweet potatoes, but yes, it was the year that I did so! I adore that ridiculously toffee-like taste and texture of roasted sweet potatoes. Perfection, an apricot-flavoured toffee without quite so much guilt as from the real thing!!

The slips went in in two batches, the first towards the end of May. This year I grew Jetfire and Beauregard. The pretty, scrambling heart shaped leaves, occasionally topped with morning-glory style (yes they are related!) flowers makes them a great ground cover crop, but early this morning I stuck a fork in under one for the first time. Simply couldn't wait any longer. They're not huge (they do need more sun and warmth than they got this year), but I'll be fleecing the remaining plants and let the others get a bit bigger, but, tonight's the night as they say, and we'll have a family tasting session...then in a week or two we'll compare the varieties and I'll let you know how the vote goes!!

Discuss this blog post

Talkback: Passion for potatoes
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

Gardeners' World Web User 12/10/2007 at 20:10

Have not grown sweet potatoes but have had a very good crop of Valour -organic- with no trouble from blight. This may be due to the position I grew them in, near to my boundary which has a neighbours Leylandii up to the adjoining fence. Also have used raised beds for the first time this season. Very pleased.

Gardeners' World Web User 14/10/2007 at 08:45

I tried out sweet potatoes last year - a very different summer weather-wise - using Beauregard and another variety - I think it was Sweet Georgia. I grew these outdoors on a well-manured ridge without protection, and watered sporadically. Like you, I started to harvest during early October, with mixed results. Some sweet potatoes were of a good size, as you'd see in the shops, including a whopper, which easily fed three people. The colour of the varieties seemed to vary from cream to yellow - not the bright orange that you get from shop-bought! - and our taste observations were that these were an altogether more delicate (to some palates insipid?) flavour; I would suggest moister with less of that wonderful caramel. However the disappointment came in lifting the bulk of the crop at the beginning of November. Something (mice? rats? moles?) had taken a distinct liking to this crop and nearly every tuber had been eaten right back to the point where it started - but just enough for me to see, frustratingly, that this would have been a very respectable crop. Consequently, I've gone back to Jerusalem artichokes this year as a reliable alternative tuber to potatoes. I probably would grow sweet potatoes again, but think that in addition to selecting a well-coloured variety I would aim to train the foliage upwards (as you might with other types of ipomoea) and away from its dense mat of ground cover, which obviously supported my phantom munchers in their mission. Heaven knows, I have two farm cats who normally deal with such intruders very effectively. Has anyone else had this problem?

Gardeners' World Web User 14/10/2007 at 19:59

I would like to know how to grow sweet potatoes , and where and how to get the slips

Gardeners' World Web User 15/10/2007 at 17:48

I would really like to grow Jersey Royal potatoes in my allotment next year. Is it possible to buy Jersey Royal seed potatoes? And if so, who stocks them? Many thanks.

Gardeners' World Web User 18/10/2007 at 09:12

Hi Cornishcarole, I do believe (and someone correct me if i'm wrong) Jersey Royals are another name for the International Kidney potato, although there could be a slight variation on this variety from years of growing on the island and due to the fact that Jersey is very protective of one of it's best loved assets, infact it even has EU protection so I don't think they can actually be sold or grown outside Jersey and be called Jersey Royals. Hope this helps.

See more comments...