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Best way to grow sweet potatoes for winter greens?

 
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I bought a couple of sweet potatoes, huge ones, cool variety, I was planning to try to overwinter them for slips. They were sprouting in two days, oh dear. They are now utterly amok. I want to grow them in the house for winter greens. What is the best way, in water or dirt?

Pros and cons of each in this house:

In water: Pro: you can see when it needs more water. Cons: cat vs large jars of water in a rental where they installed new Pergo, roots get so fragile I can't plant them in spring, not enough nutrients in water. (I can give them bits of peat moss to eat periodically, I guess?)

In dirt: Pro: Good rooting for next spring. Cons: Dirt is heavy, hard to tell if it needs water and I'm not doing well with that lately, cat vs pots of dirt in the house, lack of decent potting soil (part of why I'm having a hard time with watering.)

I know the cat is going to want to graze on greens too, and that's fine, but it DOES add to the risk of water or dirt on the floor, and the potential for "look, a cat box at this end of the house, cool!" is not one I am thrilled with.
 
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I would use potting soil in a 5 gallon sub irrigated planters.
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What are you using the greens for? Recipe ideas?
I should do this - it probably makes a great indoor plant/vine and I happen to have some organic ones that should sprout if given the right conditions!
 
Pearl Sutton
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SarahElizabeth Hoffman wrote:What are you using the greens for? Recipe ideas?
I should do this - it probably makes a great indoor plant/vine and I happen to have some organic ones that should sprout if given the right conditions!



Hi Sarah Elizabeth! Welcome to Permies!
I am a weird cook, and don't use recipes. Sweet potato leaves can basically be substituted for any fresh green. So substitute it for spinach in quiche or lasagna, for fresh greens in salads, chopped up in soup. My favorite is the Indian dish Saag Panir, made with sweet potato leaves instead of spinach. If you have ever eaten at an Indian buffet place, they usually have it on the buffet, a spiced spinach dish with lumps of cheese. A random recipe for it is Palak Saag Paneer recipe This one looks closer to what I make Indian Creamed Spinach I use a big pile of sweet potato leaves instead of spinach.  I went through a phase at one point of making it for breakfast every morning, that's a wonderful way to start the day! And I had plenty of greens to do it with.

Sweet potato is related to Morning Glories, and climbs like them, and runs amok like they do, so you can get a lot of greens off a plant. I'll be putting a rack for them to climb, they do sprawl, but only if they have no other choice, they'd rather go up. So if you have them in the house, and think you'll let them sprawl, beware, if they find anything they can twine around, they are headed up!

 
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Pearl Sutton wrote:

SarahElizabeth Hoffman wrote:What are you using the greens for? Recipe ideas?
I should do this - it probably makes a great indoor plant/vine and I happen to have some organic ones that should sprout if given the right conditions!



Hi Sarah Elizabeth! Welcome to Permies!
I am a weird cook, and don't use recipes. Sweet potato leaves can basically be substituted for any fresh green. So substitute it for spinach in quiche or lasagna, for fresh greens in salads, chopped up in soup. My favorite is the Indian dish Saag Panir, made with sweet potato leaves instead of spinach. If you have ever eaten at an Indian buffet place, they usually have it on the buffet, a spiced spinach dish with lumps of cheese. A random recipe for it is Palak Saag Paneer recipe This one looks closer to what I make Indian Creamed Spinach I use a big pile of sweet potato leaves instead of spinach.  I went through a phase at one point of making it for breakfast every morning, that's a wonderful way to start the day! And I had plenty of greens to do it with.

Sweet potato is related to Morning Glories, and climbs like them, and runs amok like they do, so you can get a lot of greens off a plant. I'll be putting a rack for them to climb, they do sprawl, but only if they have no other choice, they'd rather go up. So if you have them in the house, and think you'll let them sprawl, beware, if they find anything they can twine around, they are headed up!



That's so great! I was envisioning them vining up  the walls and ceiling - love a permie houseplant! How much/frequently/how do you harvest without killing the plant?
 
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If you put cut stems in water, they'll quickly sprout roots.  That would be an easy enough way to get them through the winter -- a big jug with a bunch of sweet potato vines growing from it.  It might be pretty in a window.

If the vines get too long, just cut them off at 8 inches or a foot or so, and re-start them in water.  They'll sprout new roots and away you go.

I'd think they'd need some nutrition in the water, so some sort of fertilizer might be in order.  Diluted pee?

 
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I've never grown sweet potatoes, where I used to live was too mild. But I've heard that deer love the leaves. Would this be something that would work in a greenhouse? Sorry for any typos, I'm tyng with one hand with an screaming infant in my lap.
 
William Bronson
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The taste is very mild.
Compared to  kale it's less "green" tasting to me.
Compared to spinach,  it doesn't have that funny mouthfeel that some of us dread.
I never bother with trying to get the spuds, I just  grow it outside as groundcover.
 
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Can't say what is the best way but I grew a few indoor sweet potatoes in water & a few in soil last winter. Started a few from cuttings & a few from store bought organic potatoes. All grew. Intend to have many more inside this winter. Started harvesting about 8 varieties of the outdoor crop last week. Plenty available to move indoors. The comment about the cat box ... good point ... chestnut hulls will be the solution here. I think the leaf greens taste better than spinach. Easier to grow too. My plan for this winter is start some cuttings in water & some potatoes in soil. Then transplant the cuttings when they form roots. Then repeat as often as needed for enough fresh greens to eat during winter & a large amount of slips ready for spring planting.
 
Pearl Sutton
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SarahElizabeth Hoffman: I pick leaves that are at least palm of my hand sized, there are always smaller ones growing up, I don't know what it wolud take te kill them... Marco Banks's comment below reminded me that I can keep cutting them off as I need to, they are hard to kill.

Stacy Witscher: Yes, they grow well in a greenhouse,  REALLY well, be sure to give them trellises, they will climb like crazy things. I planted a batch here and the deer ate them to the ground. The ones I fenced this year didn't get eaten (had fungus problems, but that's a different issue.) I think next time I do them in the ground I'll fence them so the deer can eat the ones on the outside, but put fencing across the top too (chicken run, basically) so they can't jump in. I get the stuff on one of the fence, they get the other. I have no problems with sharing with deer, I just thought they'd leave me SOME (silly me.)

William Bronson: The mild flavor has made it so I can get people who hate spinach to eat something green. They take spices well, that's why I love them as Saag :D

Mike Barkley: Chestnut hulls is a sneaky way to annoy a cat, I'll file that for other uses!

My greens harvesting in the past was from plants in the ground outside, but I was in a mild enough climate that just plastic covering would let them overwinter. These days I'm in a colder climate, and am trying to figure out space in a tight rental so I can have fresh greens. I think I am going to go with water, don't think the space I have will tolerate the weight of dirt, I can do smaller amounts of water. I'll do multiple vases with vines in them. See if I can bury the room we store stuff in in vines :) I have some fencing I'll trellis with in there, take the blinds down.
 
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Repeated harvests of greens are removing nutrients from the original potato and from the growing medium, soil or water.  Eventually these sources will diminish and the growth rate will decline, and you will have to fertilize with something.  With soil planting you can put some reserve nutrients, in the form of compost or something like that, into the pot and the roots can feed off of that for quite a while.  In water, you are essentially doing hydroponics, where you need to regularly supply balanced, soluble nutrients to keep the plant growing, especially once the original potato runs out of reserves.  In the long run I'd prefer soil for this reason.
 
Pearl Sutton
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The sweet potatoes have a home now... a weird one! Thread on it...
Odd Sweet Potato Trellis
 
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