Candy potato leaves, roots are wholesome meals | Columnists

LOVE LOVE: Sometimes I spontaneously buy plants without doing any research. So I bought two cell sweet potato starters. Can I divide this plant into several clusters and plant, or is this a plant? I’m going to plant this in a 55 gallon one-half cubic meter barrel. Are there any concerns or other information and tips in this regard? – Steve

DEAR STEVE: I’ve always grown sweet potatoes over the years. But in my case, I raised them specifically for their leaves. I know that a single new shoot, also called a slip, can be planted separately, with or without roots, as long as the slip has at least three mature / hard knots. Roots grow out of these nodes and become a healthy food plant above and below the ground.

Although sweet potatoes are a very common food in this part of the world, I wonder why their tender shoots or tips (leaves and stems) are not used as food, like spinach cabbage and other nutritious leafy green vegetables.

The blanching or steaming of sweet potato leaves for salads, sautéed alone or as an addition to soups has been practiced in other countries over the centuries. Recipes that are actually just a click away are beneficial to us when we’re on our way and want to learn more about this lesser-known, but otherwise one of the most nutritious leafy vegetable.


Sweet potato “storage roots” are rich in vitamins A and C, fiber, beta-carotene and carbohydrates. Sweet potato leaves are rich in vitamins A, C, K, B1, B2, B3 and B9 and minerals (calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, zinc).


Since sweet potatoes can be harvested for 85 to 120 days, locations that have warm sunshine throughout the growing season are good places to grow them. Otherwise, this plant is easily killed by frost.


Sweet potatoes can be very productive with a pH of 5.8 to 6.0.

In barrel planters

Use good potting soil with the right pH and adequate drainage. Harvesting root crops is easier when the soil is not compacted, which avoids bruises or cuts.

Multi-slip starter cells mean many potential plants. Plant them separately to distribute the early root premium among the vines so they can reach their full potential size.

Due to the limited space and overfilling possibilities in a barrel planter, smaller root crops can be expected.

Provide adequate drainage. It is important that the roots are not soaked in water, which can lead to root rot or cracks in sweet potatoes.

In Ground Gardens

Plant rooted clusters separately and at the same distance from other clusters. Because of its tendril and spreading habit, foot spacing should be ideal. More than that leads to hard-fleshed, very large roots. If that happens, don’t panic. This hard-fleshed sweet potato is perfect for french fries, drizzled with caramelized sugar.

A rootless branch or stem can also be planted. It should have at least three nodes for it to successfully root.

Sweet potato plants make vigorous growers when watered according to their needs.

Towards the end of the growing season, when Jack Frost shows up with temperatures below 55 degrees, harvest your sweet potatoes all at once and store them properly.

Crop rotation must be taken into account in order to avoid or minimize plant diseases that could overwinter in the soil.

Amor Chamness Cook is a graduate of Brigham Young University in Idaho. Email your gardening questions for Dear Amor to [email protected]

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