Sweet potatoes have been cultivated for thousands of years in Central and South America. They are one of the oldest vegetables known to man. In recent years, sweet potatoes have gained a lot of traction among the health-conscious eaters.
If we take a closer look at their nutritional value, it’s no surprise that sweet potatoes often make it to the top of healthy food lists. According to The World’s Healthiest Foods, one serving of this ancient food packs 214 percent of your daily value of vitamin A, 52 percent of your vitamin C, and decent amounts of manganese, calcium, potassium, and fiber while adding no fat.
Even the leaves of the plant, which are considered a delicacy by some, and the shoots are very nutritious.
While sweet potatoes come in all shapes and colors, it must be said that the orange sweet potato has the most nutrients of them all. It thanks its bright orange color to the high levels of carotenoids, a class of powerful antioxidants, like beta-carotene.
The easiest food to grow
Sweet potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They need very little maintenance and will grow in tropical or subtropical climates all year round. But they also do well in colder climates during the summer months.
While a sandy, well-drained soil is best, sweet potatoes will flourish in nearly every soil type. The hotter it is the faster they will grow. If you live in a non-tropical climate, sweet potatoes should be planted during spring, just after the last frost.
How to plant your own sweet potatoes at home
There are many ways to plant sweet potatoes. However, keep in mind that they are an invasive species. According to Tropical Permaculture, the question is not how to grow sweet potatoes, it’s rather how to stop sweet potato vines from taking over the whole garden.
Cuttings are the easiest and quickest way to grow sweet potatoes. Remove all leaves, except the small leaves on the top of the cutting and cover with soil. Only the small leaves at the top should stick out of the ground. While the cuttings are growing, roots will develop at every leaf node.
If you don’t have a kind, sweet potato-growing neighbor or garden center nearby, sweet potato cuttings may be hard to come by. If that’s the case, then you can start growing sweet potatoes by planting the tubers you buy at the grocery store or on the market.
Just place them in the ground, cover with soil, and keep them moist. The potatoes will develop shoots or slips. When these slips are big enough, about 6 inches, they can be pulled off and planted in the ground. The original sweet potatoes will continue to produce more shoots.
If you have kids, you can sprout a sweet potato in a glass of water as it is nice for them to see the shoots growing. Put the potato in a glass of water with the pointy end down and keep the top third above the water. Once the shoots are big enough, you can transfer them to the ground.
Make sure to water the shoots well while they are growing. Despite the fact that sweet potatoes are tropical plants, they can get by with little water once they are mature.
Another great way to cultivate your own chemical-free produce and become self-reliant is through a Garden Tower. The tower is ideal for small yards, patios, balconies or terraces. It can be used to grow carrots, turnips, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, culinary herbs and much more.