Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Starting Sweet Potatoes

On Tuesday (February 23), I put 8 Sweet Potatoes to "root". Biodynamically, it was supposed to be a day which favored starting Plants from which we want "roots". We love Sweet Potatoes, so we take extra care to support the Plants in their growing endeavors and in their feeding us.

These days we are staying close to our Stella Natura Calendar. When the Calendar says the time is optimal for "Leaf", "Root", "Flower", or "Fruit", Melanie and I shift into gear to plant the Seeds (or in this case, root the Sweet Potatoes) we intend to grow as transplants. It just makes sense to work off the optimal energies for growing from this Planet and beyond.

I sure am glad those Folks have put this Calendar together. It is great to think that Folks "before" and "around us now" are helping to smooth our Path. We are eager to embrace every little morsel which will help us garden successfully and nourish the Soil.

So, what factors did I consider in starting the Sweet Potatoes? This is only my 4th season growing Sweet Potatoes. I am not an expert, but these are some of my gleanings. A Sweet Potato Guru and long time Family Friend in the Millard area starts hers anytime after February 19. While we are eager to start just after Christmas, those earlier starts tend to get "leggy" and they also seem to "go sour" or "get mushy" in the water. It is best not to start too soon.

I choose the Sweet Potatoes that are the most vibrant, medium to large in size, without blemishes or bruises (which will rot), with shoots forming. These are the ones that really want to grow. Over the years, I have collected some wide mouth jars for just this occasion. They are an important element in my collection.

On the day I start them, I put them in the jars and fill up the jars with Rainwater. About 2/3 to 3/4 of the Sweet Potato will be covered with water. As the Water disappears, I just add more to keep it at that level.

I place the Sweet Potatoes in a Sunny Window. I will watch them carefully to make sure they are not getting too much Sun and Heat. If they are, I will move them to another Window or put a mesh covering over the Window.

Over time, those Shoots will grow. When they are about 8 inches long, I carefully peel them off the Mother Sweet Potato and place them in their own jars of Water. I make sure to cover about 1-2 inches of the Shoot with Water. The Shoots will root.

When the Roots of the Shoots are well developed, I place them in a Rubber Dishpan-like container that is filled with non-chemical Sand. Children's Sandbox Sand will do. I fill the Dishpan with water until it is about 2/3 of the way through the Sand. The Sand seems to act as a Filter so the Shoots stay nice until planting. During this stage of the process, the Shoots will do best in a Sunny Window.

I usually plant the Sweet Potatoes in mid-May. I think I yielded 60 Shoots last year which is more than we need. I usually give some of them away too. I will talk about planting Sweet Potatoes a little more when we get closer to the date.

Starting Sweet Potatoes is an exciting time. It takes me right back to Childhood. I remember the Ladies would always have some Sweet Potatoes starting on Window Sills and on top of Refrigerators. As a Child, I always thought it quite magical that those big and humble Roots could produce such beautiful Foliage. And that Foliage when placed in the Garden would produce Sweet Potatoes. Even as an Adult, I never tire of the wonder of such things.
Note: As Shoots come out of the Sweet Potato Roots into Vines, I will separate the collection of 8 to various Windows in the House. The Roots seem to like each other's company at this stage, but soon, they will need space.

No comments: