I'm sure the Ag Extension wouldn't recommend this method, but I'm all about the intercropping.
This last fall I planted a patch of blueberries and mulched them over heavily with pine bark, straw, moss, sticks and whatever other organic matter I could find. Then in the spring, since the plants were small, I figured why not plant some sweet potato slips in between and make better use of the space? So I did, fertilizing with urine, when I thought of it, and watering occasionally when it didn't rain for a week or more. As the vines rambled, I picked them up and moved them around the blueberry bushes as best as possible and picked lots of leaves for my salads.
Then, this weekend, I started digging. I had a patch that was about 15 x 30, I suppose, though you have to subtract a chunk of space for the 10 blueberry plants, the olive tree, a large dogwood, a few nitrogen fixers, a guava, a thornless blackberry and three young pomegranate trees. I also had another little hugelculture bed in my garden that was maybe 4 x 8 and dedicated to just sweet potatoes... but majority of the sweet potatoes in this shot came from the incredible vines growing around the blueberry patch.
I'm going to post a video of the harvest soon but I haven't finished editing it yet.
I think you're right. When I was 14 and lived in South Florida, a neighbor knew I liked gardening and asked me to take care of her landscaping while she traveled about for a year in her houseboat. She had a variety of tropical plants... a nice hedge of pink hibiscus, a cardboard palm, some various flowers. It was a pleasant yard and, as a very atypical teen, I really enjoyed caring for the greenery.
She also gave me a little budget and said "feel free to fill in gaps if anything dies."
An annual or two in her front stone planter went to seed and died... and instead of planting more flowers, I decided to stick a sweet potato in there.
Within a few months, it had totally filled the bed. I thought it looked great - like ivy!
When she got back at the end of the year, she wasn't impressed with the mess of vines and yanked it up. She and her daughter were out there off and on for weeks... maybe months... pulling up errant potatoes that had sprouted again.
She didn't find this amusing but I secretly found it hilarious.
At that point, I fell in love with sweet potatoes. Anything that could fill a planter with food and was hard to kill was my kind of plant.
I let mine dry on the porch for a week or so away from the rain, then put them in paper bags and away into my pantry. It seems they really need to dry pretty good to store. As for the leaves, I've eaten them at all sizes. Delicious!
Yeah... warm climates for me. I lived in TN for a while and really, really missed the year-round growing season and sunshine. Though some folks wouldn't count TN as cold, it was plenty cold for me.
Me too. I've got them under cassava, around my apple tree out front, etc. If there's an empty spot and I've got a potato sprouting, it gets stuck in.
when I lived in GA I quickly realized sweet potatoes made an excellent "catch crop" to tuck in after, among, or in between any number of other things. One of my favorites was among the tomatoes, which would usually die out by midsummer anyway, leaving both the space and the cages or trellises or whatever to be completely overwhelmed in potato vines.
A lot of people don't know that sweet potato leaves make wonderful cooked greens. Briefly steamed, boiled, or stir-fried they are bland and comparable to spinach. 10-20% of the leaves can be picked without diminishing root yield....in fact, growing a bunch to have potatoes all winter, I found I could pick greens whenever I wanted a mess and hardly tell I had picked anything. Unfortunately, this also makes the vines a favorite of deer! I discovered that a spray of dilute urine would suffice for a repellent for a few days' time.
Here in N. CA. they are a bit more of a challenge with cooler nights, shorter summers, and gophers, but I still have quite a few coming along....
Put a sprouting sweet potatoe in a flower pot on the deck and watched it cascade all summer. Told the kids to go pull it up and they were amazed that there were 4 potatoes for them. Sweet potato fries area favorite here. Have since put some out in the beds around the apple trees. I had no idea that you could eat the leaves. Thanks for that nugget od knowledge. Anyone know how nutritional it is?