Sweet potatoes are one of the best storage crops for the subsistence gardener! They are drought tolerant, prolific, beautiful, heavy yielding and they can keep for a year or more in a root cellar. On top of that they are exceptionally nutrient dense, low on the glycemic index, and they have lots of prebiotic fiber that feeds our beneficial gut bacteria and helps to establish a healthy and happy microbiome.
Culinarily they offer incredible flavor and texture to stir fry, soup, baked dishes, and steamed vegetables. Beyond that they can be thinly sliced and baked into homemade chips, julienned for sweet potato fries, or dried, powdered and added to baked goods.
For cultivation we like to build mounded beds from thick layers of straw, aged horse manure, finished compost and wood chips. Get them planted just after the last frost for the best results, and definitely before the summer solstice to give them a full 100 day season.
The classic orange sweet potato that everyone knows and loves. This is one of the most common varieties sold in supermarkets throughout north america. It is sweet, productive and very reliable. Requires around 100 days to fully mature.
This purple sweet potato is often sold as a "Japanese sweet potato" with purple skin, white flesh and a bit more starch than the classic Beauregard. This is one of my favorites because it is the most productive of the purple skin white flesh varieties that we have trialed, and this is the same type of sweet potato eaten by the remarkably long lived people of Okinawa (accounting for 60%+ of their diet according to some accounts!). Give this one 110 days to fully mature.
This tan skinned white flesh variety is sweeter than most. Related to Beauregard it is also relatively productive. Smooth, creamy, and low fiber flesh makes this one an excellent candidate for sweet potato pies. It is very similar to O'Henry in most respects, but this variety offers resistance to root knot nematode and soil rot, and tends to have higher yields.