Tuesday, October 5, 2010

First attempt at sweet potatoes, fall roses

One advantage of possibly boring people to tears with tales of my garden and also of celebrating as many events as possible there is that people are likely to give you garden-related gifts when they visit. At a barbecue last June a friend of mine presented me with a very pretty small potted green plant, reminiscent of a morning glory, with a label identifying it to my surprise as a sweet potato (Ipomea batata), with no further information on the cultivar. The label said it would grow into a 40 cm high bushy plant.

I was intrigued, as I had never considered planting sweet potatoes and knew nothing about growing them. Wary as always of slug danger when trying out new plants, I decided to plant it on the roof deck in a large pot, where it quickly developed long trailing vines that willingly climbed the offered trellis.

The instruction card said to harvest the entire plant at once in September or October before frost sets in, so yesterday I did so. Here's what I got:
I'm so excited! I may have harvested too soon, I think, because so many of the tubers are so small. It looks like the kind I have are white-fleshed. The largest one weighs 300 g (about 10 oz.). I'm planning to store some of them over the winter and plant them in the spring. They are such pretty plants that I'm happy to have them on the deck, but will at least try a plant in the garden next year. I'm saving them to eat with my middle son next time he visits, since he and I are the sweet potato lovers in the family.

And to finish this post, here are some photos of the still beautiful roses in our garden. Even in cases where the plants are almost devoid of leaves due to black spot, they continue to produce lovely blooms even in October. Unfortunately, I don't know the names of these beauties, since I inherited them from the previous allotment owners, to whom I am very grateful.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I have never grown sweet potatoes either and wonder if I should have a go. Our roses are still producing flowers too but I wish I could find something that stops black spot. Do your rose have perfume?

    I deleted the comment first made as it had a stupid typo

  3. It has been awhile since I grew sweet potatoes but I love them whether no one else in the family does or not. That is probably why I no longer grow them. They do have fabulous vines though.
    Barbara your roses still look so beautiful.

  4. We considered growing sweet potatoes this year, but didn't quite have room for them in the garden. I'd love to try growing them next year though. Yours turned out great! I love the flavor of sweet potato, roasted, in stews, mashed with a little nutmeg and cream. Now I'm hungry! By the way, your roses are gorgeous!

  5. The roses are beautiful and the sweet potato did impressively as well! I am not sure whether storing one of the tubers over the winter would work, since in my experience sweet potatoes do not store as well as real potatoes. In case the stored tuber does not make it, though, you can start again in spring by sprouting a store-bought tuber, and the stems of the plant also root fairly easily as cuttings.

  6. That first red rose is just so silky! You can almost feel the silkiness. Looks like your garden is still going strong. Let us know how the sweet potatoes taste.

  7. Sweet potatoes just seem to sulk for me. I love the chartreuse and dark purple kinds. This may be the first picture I've seen of a green one.

    As for the rose blooms, well, my roses are in the hip stage because it looks like winter is coming soon. You'd think I would be more accepting of this after thirty plus years in this locale.

    Christine in Alaska

  8. Thanks Barbara,

    I appreicate and enjoy your blog very much. So glad that you came to the D.A.I. today with Carol K----. I will also always remember your excellent Greek cucumber and yogurt recipe at the 4th of July picnic in the lovely garden of the K-----.

    Happy Autumn in Mannheim and Heidelberg


    Mary Louise Murray-Johnson

  9. Dear Barbara, Well done! I have had no luck with sweet potatoes. Your roses are stunning. Pam x

  10. Dear Barbara, These final rose flowers of the season look so wonderfully poignant. Reminiscent on the summer past and bravely heralding the winter yet to come they do indeed look lovely.
    I have never known anyone who has grown sweet potatoes but I very much enjoy eating them!

  11. Thank you for all your comments!

    Green Lane: I have the impression that sweet potatoes are easy to grow, so do try. Most of our roses don't have much scent. I bought a new variety certified to be resistant to black spot ("Compassion", a climbing rose), but it's not really. It does at least smell good.

    Lona: I at least have one family member who likes eating them. In fact he was over today and we ate the two big tubers: delicious. They were light orange inside after all, and very sweet.

    Clare: I had so few we decided to just eat them baked with butter and salt, purist. But cream and nutmeg sounds wonderful, too.

    College Gardener: Thanks for the tip on simply using store-bought potatoes. Then you'd at least know what you were getting.

    Tina: The potatoes were delicious. They took a long time in the oven, though - almost an hour.

    Christine: I'd love to find chartreuse or purple for next year's crop. We're still having 25 degree weather here (i.e. mid-seventies F) so plenty of late blossoms. But I can imagine what fall must be like where you are, since I'm from Minnesota.

    Mary Louise: I'm so glad you're reading my blog! Thanks for your gracious words.

    Pam: Thanks for your compliments on my roses. I wish I knew exactly what the cultivar of my sweet potatoes was, since they seemed very hardy.

    Edith: There really is something poignant about glowing roses against a backdrop of fall browns and fading colors.

  12. Beware! My sweet potatoes seem to rot in the fridge after maybe 2 weeks. Not sure whether it's too cold? Regardless, maybe you should just eat them all ;->

  13. Hi Barbara,

    I'm also an American living in Germany (Neuburg).
    Ques. on the sweet potatoes; did you buy them at the store and grow the tubers yourself? Sweet potatoes are hard to come by here, and I'd like to plant them next spring.