Burnett: Sweet potato harvest about timing

Sweet potatoes don’t keep all that well…So I just take what I need for a meal or two at a time.

I am gradually harvesting my sweet potatoes which have been growing all summer long in large 15 gallon nursery pots.

These plants are descendants of a plant I purchased from Brian Minter in 2012 called ‘Georgia Jet.’

Although there are many varieties of sweet potato vine Ipomoea batatas available in garden centres including several variations in foliar colour, the variety I got from Brian was developed for its edible tuber rather than its ornamental qualities.

Its foliage is green and the vine can be full and vigorous, after all it is related to several common plants and weeds including Morning Glory, Bind Weed and Moon Flower.

The tuber it produces is quite orange in colour and its flesh is the same only deeper.

We cook these tubers in a bit of water, more like steaming them; they cook very quickly and the only thing we add is a dash of salt to the water.

I suppose a person could spice them up and or add some butter but I like them just as they are.

The reason I say I am gradually harvesting them is because they don’t keep all that well after being taken out of the ground.

So I just take what I need for a meal or two at a time.

But they need to be all harvested before any real frost occurs or they will turn to mush.

I made the mistake of calling them yams once to my good friend Dan Bruce and he put me straight.

Sweet potatoes and yams are often mistakenly identified as one and the same, but they’re really not even closely related.

The tubers you buy as yams in any typical grocery store is probably not a yam but an orange-fleshed sweet potato.

Originating in Africa and generally imported to Canada from the Mediterranean, true yams are much starchier and drier. The only place you may find them is in specialty stores.

I think the confusion actually comes from the fact there are two distinctly different types of sweet potatoes; firm sweet potatoes with a golden skin and a pale flesh and soft sweet potatoes with an orange skin and deep orange flesh like my Georgia Jet variety.

•••

Just a reminder if anyone is interested in joining me on a trip to the Chelsea Flower Show and touring several famous gardens in the United Kingdom next May, you better move quickly because there are only a few seats left now.

I am looking forward to seeing all the sights and sounds of London England all the way up to Edinburgh Scotland.

The full day at Chelsea will take place when only members of the Royal Horticultural Society are allowed so we will have a day when the show is not so busy with the general public.

Also another exclusive is our personalized tour of Savill Garden, a 35-acre ornamental garden revered as one of Britain’s Finest hosted by Mark Flanagan, Queen Elizabeth’s personal gardener. Now how cool is that!

Contact Gail Fritsen at Marlin Travel_email gail.fritsen@marlintravel.ca or call either 250-868-2540 or her toll free number 1-8888-865-2540 for more information.

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