Growing sweet potatoes is one of the easiest plants to grow. It’s so exciting for me and the kids to grow things under the ground. The amazement when you pull that thing up and see there was so much going on that couldn’t be seen is priceless. I love watching the kid’s expressions when they pull up a carrot or radish for the first time. Wow, something I have seen before on my plate grows like THAT? It’s awesome!
Tag Archive for sweet potatoes
October is a busy garden time as we prepare for the first frost of the year in Oklahoma. It’s time to put a lot of the garden to bed for winter. Adding compost to each bed is a great way to prepare for spring. It adds nutrients and moisture holding ability to your soil. I just layer mine on top in October and let the worms and other beneficials churn it into the soil over the winter.
Adding a cover crop or mulch to the beds will also help prepare your beds for spring. I have never planted cover crops, but if you want to learn about them, click here.
We heavily mulch our beds over the winter with leaves, straw, or some other material we can get for free or cheap. I have an awesome friend who “buries” me in leaves every fall, so I take advantage of that and use it in most of my beds. It works GREAT! Sometimes all you need to do is put the word out and you can get all the materials you need. They have so much, they are glad to get rid of it. Before I found that great source, I would drive around the neighborhood and grab bagged leaves off the curb of my neighbor’s houses.
The mulch prevents erosion of your garden soil and prevents the soil from compacting into a hard layer over the winter as precipitation falls. Have you ever been in the woods and lifted up the layer of leaves that have fallen from the trees? It’s rich, black, and sweet smelling soil under there that is teeming with microorganisms and nutrients. Nature knows what she’s doing. I try to duplicate that with my mulching. In spring, we just scoot the leaves that are left over and plant right into the bed with no other prep needed. Click here to see how we put our garden to bed for winter.
There are a few things we grow over the winter, so those beds are planted and we are eagerly awaiting crops from them. Last year, we grew and ate kale, Brussel sprouts, and herbs all winter and into spring. We are going to try that again this year. We also planted cabbage, lettuce, carrots, radishes, cauliflower, broccoli, swiss chard, and a third round of green beans for the fall, so those beds are still working away.
Soon it will get too cold for the tomatoes, peppers, okra, and the like to continue producing any more and we will clean those beds out and prep them for winter as well. I let them grow as long as they will to get as much food stored up for winter as we can. We pull the tops off the plants and compost them if they are bug and disease free, and we leave the roots in the ground to add more nutrients to the soil. By spring, they are composted and the bed is ready to go.
October is sweet potato harvesting time. One bed of sweet potatoes has flowered and been harvested, and the other is just flowering, so we will harvest those right before the first frost. We are watching the weather closely. We got 60 pounds out of the first bed, so we are hoping for that much from the second one. We love sweet potatoes and they store great!
Another October project is garlic planting. Garlic is planted in October in Oklahoma and harvested in June, so chose a bed you aren’t planning to use for anything else. I rotate my crops from bed to bed each season, but the garlic stays in the same bed year after year. Click here to learn about growing your own garlic.
October is the last busy month in the garden until spring. The garden is giving its last hoorah. We are enjoying every bite of what we know is limited tasty goodness and we have prepared as much as we can to eat this winter. We’ve been dehydrating, blanching, freezing, and curing everything we can manage to and we hope that will supplement what we are eating until the garden wakes up and bears more beautiful gifts for us next season.
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How do I get my Little Sprouts to eat swiss chard and all this other healthy stuff? One thing I learned when changing to a healthier lifestyle and teaching my family is if you don’t like something, try it a different way until you do.
Steamed, baked, roasted, fried, boiled, sautéed, raw, pickled, stir fried, whatever way there is to cook something, try it! Our farmer’s market had a raw crazy day last year and the two things I LOVED raw that I thought would be disgusting were sweet potatoes and okra. Sweet potatoes taste nothing like their white counter parts when raw, they are crispy, sweet, and not at all starchy like white potatoes. They are delicious! You would think okra would be offensively slimy raw, but when you bite into it, it is crisp, refreshing, and very flavorful. It doesn’t get slimy until it has been cut for a while and the slime begins to accumulate. Surprisingly, it is very good.
Enter the greens. I know greens are a super healthy power food. So how’s a girl to learn to like greens when she doesn’t? I had my Aunt Jodi cook them for me and they were okay, but not delicious. I had my Mom cook them for me, the same. I really don’t want to eat food I have to make myself finish. I want to want to eat it. I tried collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens along with broccoli, kohlrabi, and radish tops. I just couldn’t get used to the flavor of them. So I decided that liking spinach and kale was enough.
This year we decided we would try Swiss chard in some of our new space. I had never had it, but it was really pretty, so we planted a container full and a long bed full in our spring crops. The brightly colored stems and dark green leaves are just gorgeous in the garden. I cooked it up for the kids the way I had been shown to cook the other greens and it was AMAZING! Most of my kids love it. I think it’s delicious and Mr. Kent, vegetable un-enthusiast likes it as well. Score for Swiss chard.
Here’s how I do it:
One of my favorite facebook pages shared this recipe for Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes last week and I got inspired. I knew we had Brussels sprouts ready in the garden and as soon as it warmed up enough to take the kids outside to get them, I was going to make something like this for them. Tuesday was the only day this week that it got above 40 and we were scheduled to give a tour of our garden to a couple of special visitors, so while we were out there, we hacked off a few stalks and brought them inside to harvest. We still have a few sweet potatoes left from our harvest in the fall, we were good to go on this tasty combination.
It’s been a while since the kids and I had anything to harvest, so they were pretty excited and took turns pushing the wheelbarrow and carrying the stalks. It was still pretty chilly and windy outside, so we pulled the sprouts off the stalks at the kitchen table. (Never mind what Mr. Kent had to say when he came home and saw the mess, we don’t need to talk about that, but usually we do pull them off outside when it’s not so cold)
The original recipe instructed me to grate the sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts, but I just sliced the sprouts and diced up the sweet potatoes into small cubes. We had a lot of Brussels sprouts so I doubled the recipe below and I halved the onions since kids don’t always like a lot of onion in their food. I had a couple of kids begging for even thirds of this tasty treat. All of the kids tried it and most of them liked it. I do have a child or two that only like a few select foods, but they still tried it and that’s a success in my book.
When you are trying to encourage kids to try healthy foods, be patient, it usually takes a few tries before they will eat it well. Just don’t pressure them and they will usually work it out on their own. And remember, not everyone is going to like much of anything unless it’s candy or something.
First, I chopped up a few pieces of bacon and cooked it until done.
Then I took it out of the pan and drained it on a paper towel. In the bacon fat, I sauted the onion until it was translucent. And then added the sweet potatoes. I added a half a cup or so of water and placed a lid on the skillet so the potatoes could steam and get tender all the way through.
Here are the Brussels sprouts freshly harvested by the kids and sitting in my rinsing bowl. After I rinsed them well, I sliced them and tossed them into the skillet with the sweet potatoes.
I cooked them for a minute or two and then added the bacon back on top and sprinkled on some salt and pepper. This was by far THE BEST Brussels sprout recipe I have ever tried. Delish!
- 2 slices of bacon, cut in small pieces
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 large sweet potato, diced
- 4 cups of Brussels sprouts, sliced
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook bacon until crisp
- Pull bacon out of fat and drain on a paper towel, reserve
- Saute onion until translucent
- Add sweet potato to skillet with 1/2 cup water and cover
- Cook until sweet potato is tender
- Add Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper and saute 1-2 minutes
- Return bacon to pan
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Isn’t this lavender gorgeous? It smells amazing too. It’s glorious to sit near it and watch the busy bees working.
You won’t believe our harvest this week! My Little Sprouts and I harvested over 84 pounds of food this week! The tomatoes and okra are slowing down, but we dug our sweet potatoes today and yesterday we harvested most of our second corn crop.
This is one of our two sweet potato beds. To harvest the sweet potatoes, first we cut all the vines back.
Then we started digging. It was like hunting for treasures. We all had so much fun doing it.
This was the biggest one found while the kids were here, but they tired out so we finished harvesting after work tonight. We found a few that were bigger than this one. It was over 4 pounds, but we found three more that were about 5 1/2 pounds.
The kids were excited. We harvested 73 pounds of sweet potatoes total.
We harvested a couple of melons this week. The squash bugs have taken down all of our cantaloupe vines, so this will be our last one. We still have a number of watermelons growing though.
Here is a look at what else we harvested this week.
This is all the corn we got. It was about 4 pounds. I’m not sure what we are doing wrong, but the ears don’t get very big. We figured out how to pollinate it by hand and while we didn’t do it perfectly, we got a LOT more corn that pollinated than last time. Once the tassles formed and began dropping pollen, we took one off the stalk each day and rubbed it on the silks of all the ears of corn. Hand pollinating is as simple as that.
The kids had lots of fun picking the corn.
The weather has cooled off here so it’s 60-80 degrees when we are in the garden. It’s very pleasant work now that the summer heat is gone.
What is your favorite thing to harvest?