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Columbia Missourian

FROM READERS: Sweet potato harvest day

By ANNETTE TRIPLETT/MISSOURIAN READER
November 8, 2012 | 10:00 a.m. CST
Sweet potatoes sit in a bucket. Annette Triplett harvested 30 pounds of sweet potatoes this year.

Annette Triplett runs the blog CoMo Homestead, which tells her and her husband's story of urban homesteading in Columbia. Triplett wrote about their recent sweet potato harvest. This article was originally posted on the blog on Oct. 25.

Sunday was the day to harvest the sweet potatoes. The vines had been frosted, so it was time to pull up the tubers.

It’s easy to damage sweet potatoes by digging them up with tools. Since I have mine planted in a relatively small area (about 32 square feet), I just dig them up with my hands. Our soil is nice and loose, so it’s fairly easy to dig all the way to the bottom of the raised beds.

(At least so I told myself until the day after the harvest, when the muscles in my hands became extremely sore from all of the digging. Sore hand muscles is a new experience for me.)

This is the third year that we’ve grown sweet potatoes, and the second year that we’ve grown them from our own stock. It’s pretty exciting to me to be able to produce substantial amounts of food from our own supplies without having to purchase seeds or slips again every year.

For us, sweet potatoes are an almost exclusively pest-free crop. The only minor damage we’ve ever seen is a few holes in the potatoes here and there. Can anyone explain this? Is it a growing issue or a pest issue?

Because of the drought we were entirely reliant on our irrigation, and it showed in the sweet potato yields. One side of the bed was watered better than the other because of inconsistencies in the soaker hoses we were using. Not surprisingly, the side that received more water had much larger sweet potatoes than the other side.

So the big question is… how much did we produce?

Drumroll, please!

…..

30 POUNDS!

Hooray! This is the most we’ve ever produced, and way more than the sad 15 pounds we produced last year because I got the slips in late. I think this is a good yield. Based on the average yield per acre that commercial growers should expect, when converted to square feet and scaled down to our growing area of 32 square feet, we would expect to produce around 15 pounds. So we produced two times the average yield. Not bad.

The sweet potatoes will cure for a couple weeks, then will become part of our “to eat this winter” food stores.

So now that we have them, what should we do with them? What are your favorite recipes and ways to prepare sweet potatoes?

Here are some photos from the sweet potato harvest:

Sweet potato vines after getting frosted.

That is a big ol' pile of sweet potato vines. For reference, the blocks on the side are 16" tall.

Halfway through digging up the sweet potatoes.

SOON...

Can anyone identify the cause of these occasional holes in the tubers?


This story is part of a section of the Missourian called From Readers, which is dedicated to your voices and your stories. We hope you'll consider sharing. Here's how. Supervising Editor is Joy Mayer.