Monday, June 05, 2017

Sweet potatoes

The three sweet potatoes I stuck in jars on the kitchen windowsill are growing slips.

"Patate Americane" are not always easy to get in this country, but they're incredibly good for you, and a great substitute for regular potatoes if you want to have more nutrient (and flavour) dense foods. But I discovered that they are not botanically related to potatoes at all. Tatties are a nightshade family thing, and sweets are... get this... related to morning glory, of all things. So you have to do them completely differently.

One of the rather charmingly rustico features of the garden is an old bathtub sitting near the fence. (What self respecting aspiring hillbilly doesn't have a bathtub in the garden, I ask you!) The first thing I thought to do with it was potatoes, but then I saw the sweets in the supermarket and had a brainstorm.

Why wait for them to appear in the shops?

But where growing potatoes is easy - you just cut a chunk off and stick it in a pile of dirt - sweets is complicated. You can't just bury a sweet and have it grow more of itself. You have to do this thing of growing "slips." Which means you have to stick a sweet in a jar of water on the window sill and wait for it to start sprouting - roots in the watery end, and green baby plants at the top end. Then once the baby plants are well developed, and have a full root system, then you stick them in the dirt.

What I didn't count on was that it takes so long! Potatoes go so fast that you can have them growing roots and shoots in the fridge. (Naturally this never happens to me! Much too organized...But I've heard it happens to other people. People who are terrible housekeepers... Ahem... Please ignore the pile of seed packets and the tipped over empty water bottle in the photo above...) So of course, not knowing the difference, I stuck my sweets on the sill, thinking it would be a few weeks at most.

When nothing was happening, I looked it up. TWO MONTHS!!! just to get the slips going. Urgh! But, like starting a new TV show that starts going south, it's too late for me to turn back now. I've got to see it through to the end. I'm going to have a rustico bathtub full of sweet potatoes, maybe by the end of the winter.



Matt K said...

From someone exiled to live downtown Toronto for the month, thanks for posting this. It's easy to forget that nature exists when you're stuck down here in the heart of the beast.

Now it's got me wondering if anyone would notice if I dug up a little plot out behind City Hall to get some potatoes going...they'll probably be too distracted by that grey monstrosity to notice anyway.

Also, master in the art of subtlety that I am, something tells me you've had your fair share of jungle creatures show up in your potato bin too. Good to know I'm not alone!

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Oh man, Tranna was like kryptonite for me. I did my mandatory 5 year sentence, but that was all I was going to survive. Shot outa there like Steve McQueen on a motorcycle.

Anonymous said...

Hee hee...I left some potatoes in a dark cupboard once and a month later they had roots a foot long. It was a frightening sight!


jd said...

Tired of the potato, even though it's sweet😟.
Just kidding, Hilary. I just can't get enough
of your writing.