When I set out to create this garden, I set out to grow things that my husband and I love to eat, and to provide as much of that food we love as possible. What I have discovered in this process is that we love a lot more foods than we knew we did. I didn't know that there were hundreds of kinds of peppers with a huge range of flavors from citrusy to mellow, sharp to smooth, juicy to cocoa-powdery, nor did I know pepper flowers of different species looked different from each other. I hadn't ever had a salad that was made entirely of mache or nibbled on cucumbery salad burnet. Though I had read about fava greens, I had never had a steaming, slightly charred stir-fried plate full of them. I hadn't tasted garlic scapes, the subtleties in flavor between different varieties of garlic, or the fresh bite of Egyptian Walking onion greens.
I planted sweet potatoes because I love sweet potatoes. I did not know beforehand that the leaves were mighty tasty steamed or sautéed. And, before looking into sweet potatoes to grow, I didn't even know there were so many varieties.
Yesterday, while I was harvesting my first ever crop of sweet potatoes, I kept squealing with surprise and delight as I pulled up plants. One great pleasure of harvesting sweet potatoes is that one has no idea of what one will pull up. Some of the vigorous looking vines had only one normal-sized root hiding beneath; others had large clumps of six to eight meaty roots. E came out to see what I was doing and shot a picture of me with mud, bad hair, beat-up paint stained clothes, and a bunch of large-rooted potatoes.
The two varieties I planted grew differently from each other. The Violetta had lovely vines with bright green leaves and a few regularly-shaped neon violet roots with white flesh. The Red Wine Velvet had purple-tinged purple growth and many (six to eight) irregularly-shaped, burgundy-skinned, orange-fleshed roots.
As tempted as I am, I have not yet tasted either of the varieties. Instead, I have to cure them, a process in which the tender, disease-prone skins of the roots firm up at high humidity and warm temperatures while some of the starches convert to sugars, sweetening up the roots. I wrapped the sweet potatoes in large towel, placed them in a box, then placed the box next to my husband's computer, a place I figured would be warm all the time. There they'll sit for 10 days. I hope that makeshift process, imitating what large farmers do with their harvests, works here. 10 days, I can't wait.
If you'd like to see what others are harvesting this week in gardens the world over, stop by Daphne's Dandelions and check out Harvest Monday.