Sweet Potato Experiment

First, Happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there.

In my infinite quest to plant as many edibles in my little gardening space as possible I’ll stick a plant wherever I think it might grow.  Any nook or cranny is fair game.  Every possible space must be filled with something growing.  If something is taking up ground space, it needs to be pretty or productive. 

That brings me to how the sweet potatoes got planted in the composter.

The composter wasn’t producing compost fast enough.  It’s really hard to get in there and turn the ingredients, and I’ve had a quicker turnaround mixing ingredients in large plastic bins in the garage. 

So….if not a functional composter, how about a nice, big planter?  I loaded the bottom of the composter with grass clippings and yard waste and put about six or eight inches of potting mix on top of that and planted the sweet potatoes.

Well, maybe the composter works better than I thought because…well, just look.

As you can see, the sweet potato plants are growing, and the soil line is shrinking.   I’m going to have to say this little experiment is probably going to be a failure.  But I’m sure it’s too late to re-transplant the sweet potato plants to a different spot without damaging the plant, so what I’m going to do is keep putting some of my yard waste in the container and see what happens.  Maybe I’ll have nice big sweet potatoes, or maybe I’ll have ugly scabby potatoes, or maybe I’ll have no potatoes.

While searching the internet, I found this article (1936 bulletin on growing sweet potatoes ).   It’s from way back when, and it gives a lot of detailed info about growing sweet potatoes and lots of interesting recipes, including one for sweet potato flour.  Who’da thunk it?

The sweet potato slips were compliments of my master gardening friend, Gregory Bratton.  He’s busy, busy, busy this year with lots of community gardens he’s working on, plus his own personal mini farm at 910 West 71st Street.  He told me recently that Erika Allen, daughter of Will Allen of Growing Power, has asked him to work on an upcoming city farm project, South Chicago Farm and Park at Altgeld Gardens.  Congratulations, Gregory.

Along with the sweet potato slips, Gregory gave me a few other plants which are doing just fine.

Sugar Baby watermelons interplanted with lettuce and onions at the top of the squash cold frame.

Russian Kale


The honeydew melon has finally found its sweet spot and has started growing.

In other happenings, I’ve staked the corn that got blown over the other day by the wind.  It’s really weird to see corn tasselling at two, three and four feet instead of giant humongous stalks of corn like EG grows.  And my poor peas.  They’re still leaning to the side and I don’t know what to do for them.  I guess when the wind was blowing the tendrils started tightening onto whatever they could, which was each other, and now they’re a tangled mess for the top two feet of growth above the trellis.

That’s it for today.  I want to get the house clean, try to catch up on some of the many things I’ve been putting off, and then take a break.

Happy Gardening!!!



  1. engineeredgarden said,

    June 20, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Cheryl, I think your sweet potatoes are gonna do pretty well – especially if you get some clusters of them to form.

  2. gardengoodies said,

    June 22, 2010 at 1:16 am

    I hope you’re right, EG. Okay. Positive mental attitude. I WILL have huge sweet potatoes in October. There. I’ll tell them EG told me so. 😉

  3. meemsnyc said,

    June 25, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Sweet potatos is something we want to try to plant next year. Good luck with it, hope it grows big!

    • gardengoodies said,

      June 28, 2010 at 7:12 am

      Thanks. I hope so too. If nothing else, they do look pretty once they start vining.

  4. stefaneener said,

    June 26, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Some day I’m going to have sweet potatoes just like EG!! But I think I’ll eat store bought today.

  5. gardengoodies said,

    June 28, 2010 at 7:18 am

    That’s funny. I just bought one the other day to make…I guess you’d call them candied sweet potatoes: sweet potatoes, sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon. I haven’t had any since Thanksgiving. Chock full of calories and cholesterol. Yum.

    That EG can grow anything. I know his will turn out great.

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