Saturday, February 27, 2010

Nurserymans Tip to Growing Sweet Potato

Nurseryman's Tip

Sweet Potato.

Full Name: Ipomoea batatas ‘Beauregard’
Leaf: Heart shaped, green
Preferred Location: In the soil/big growing containers
Likes: Well drained, sandy soil/Full sun
Dislikes: Over watering and temperatures below 5°C

Sweet potatoes are becoming increasingly popular as part of a healthy diet in Europe. Home
production of Sweet potato can be done in big plastic containers, on the patio and therefore
makes the crop available for a wider range of gardeners. This crop is especially interesting for
younger people or those without a large garden who want to grow something special. Anyone who has traveled to countries like USA, Australia, Middle East and many of the Pacific Islands where Sweet potato is a common vegetable. The dietary and health advantages of Sweet potato are now well recognised and Sweet Potato is commonly recommended by dieticians for very young babies beginning their solid food diets.

In 2009 I posted this blog piece showing ourtrials on Sweet Potato. You can see this post here

I have put together the following detailed tips for your information in growing and storing your own SweetPotato this year.

Growing instructions
- Optimum of 4 - 5 months of continuous growing between 10°C night and 30°C day required
- ‘tuber’ growth starts during the shortening days
- Well draining, sandy soils, pH 6 to 6.5, minimum 20 to 30 cm deep
- Planting of the rooted cuttings in rows 1 m apart, 30 cm within the
rows or in individual growing containers
- Water in when planting the rooted cuttings, but overwatering during
the growing period can cause root damage
- Requires less fertilizer than most vegetable crops so do not overfeed
- Keep weed free during growing
- Relatively free of pest and disease problems, but can have root rots caused
by cold and wet soil conditions
- Harvest in dry weather where possible
- Harvest before the first frost and with care as sweet potatoes are sensitive to bruising
- Store the roots by over 25 °C and a minimum relative humidity of 90% for 2 weeks to heal
the wounds, reduce weight loss and convert the starches into sugars
- Savour the Sweet potatoes boiled, mashed or fried accompanied by a nice glass of chilled white wine

Nutrition information
Sweet potatoes are :
- fat-free and cholesterol-free
- have only 130 calories per serving (one medium
- are a good source of fibre – 3.9 grams
- are an excellent source of:
Vitamin A – 7860 IU/serving
Vitamin C – 29.51 mg/serving
Potassium – 265.2 mg/serving
Calcium – 28.6 mg/serving
Iron – 0.79 mg/serving
Folate – 18.2 mcg/serving

Special notes on harvesting & storage of sweet potato.

It is desireable to leave your crop of Sweet Potato for as long as possible before digging out. The top growth will not die back like the normal potato unless it is hit by frost. I recommend you target to harvest some time end of September if growing out door and mid October if growing in a greenhouse. It is important that they be harvested befroe grond temperatures go too low and certainly before any early frosts.
When harvesting Sweet Potato it is desireable to have dry soil conditions. If this isnt possible take special care to lay the roots out in a dry warm location. Sweet Potato have a very thin skin so care should be taken not to bruise or cut the skin surface as this can lead to rots during storage or curing the potatoes.


For best it is desireable to cure sweet potato after harvest. Curing brings out the best in flavour. Proper curing has been shown to increase the sensation of moistness and sweetness, enhance the aroma, and decrease starch content while increasing sugars. Curing also drys up any skin damage and prevents rots in storage. Curing also helps harden or set the skin which helps prolong storage. An idea temperature for curing is between 25 C and 29 C with humidity of 85% which helps avoid weight loss.


Ideally cure the tubers for at least a week you can then store the tubers between 10 Celcius to 13 Celcius for over 6 months. Ensure the tubers are stored at a reasonable humidity 80% to 85% is perfect but good air circulation should be maintained by storing in layers. Do not the potatoes storage environment to become excessively dry or weight loss can occur. It is also important not to allow storage temperatures rise too high as sprouting will begin at about 15 Celcius or 16 Celcius.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Honest Scrap

So this is a most unusual post for me it is a challenge or a passing of the gauntlet from Rebecca Sweet who is an amazing garden blogger in California with her Gossip in The Garden blog site. Rebecca has put some interesting facts about herself in this blog piece and thats the general idea so when you
get to number 2 on my piece I will wake you up by conveniently giving you a link to Rebeccas blog piece.

Nothing outstanding or startling included in the following just simple frivilous facts.

Here goes.....

1. Ok this is going to be a big admission, I was never interested in nursery production when I went to Horticulture college. Whats more I couldnt see the point in producing ornamental plants when it was so obvious they cant be eaten and people will always need fruit and vegetables. That was the logic of an 18yr old. This didnt change during my hort studies and ahemmm it was my worst subject even though I won two student of year awards for Fruit and Vegetable production and did my main project on the storage of Onions and the growing of Japanese onions :) .

2. When I was about 11 I tried to get a stand in role in the movie Barry Lyndon as it was being shot nearby they rejected me :( but my sister got a part in the crowd. My movie career cut off so young. rejection was so painful. SO you never hear of the movie Barry Lyndon starring Ryan O Neal? Aha well now you know why!

3. Before going to hort college I went to school at St Kierans College where in first year class I sat behind Ralph Fiennes the actor I cannot say anything remarkable other than he did use the term piss off Fitz more than once or twice as for some reason he didn't like being poked in the back during class. odd thing about some people. Ralph left St Kierans after one year hmmm now I hadnt thought about that and why he may have left :). He just didnt come back, whaaaattt I didnt poke him that hard. He wasn't the Dali Lama though so here is where you can go to
4. After college I worked on a vegetable farm for a year then a hop farm for a year before finally spending 6 years working with and managing a Horticultural Workshop for people with special needs and this was my first entry into nursery production. My friend Patrick Murphy began the workshop / nursery and I took over from him when he left to be a landscape designer in USA and now operates a successful Landscape business in New Jersey. Pat actually picked up an application form I was after getting from the American Embassy as I was considering going to USA on an Agricultural working Visa. I managed the workshop and nursery until 1990 when I left to set up FitzGerald Nurseries and it was the most fulfilling work I can imagine we had about 35 trainees all with varying forms of special needs and all very special people. There were too many funny, interesting and good times to recount from Special Olympics outing to various other events with the lads.

5. This one I probably will be sorry for bringing out but its fact. As you know Carex is a big thing for the nursery and we have our own varieties now all coming from my work on Carex Evergold. In 1989 having bought me beautiful Omega watch (yes which I still have) for my birthday NoirĂ­n my then girlfriend now my wife asked me what I would like for my 26th birthday. So this guy who didn't study nursery production too well at school but now working in it and had decided that year to set up my own nursery. So I said ummm how about buying me some Carex Evergold plants so I could start producing some. I thought it was a pretty simple and very attractive evergreen so I couldn't go wrong. So Noirin bought them for me :).

6. FitzGerald Nurseries produced over 500,000 Carex oshimensis Evergold last year has introduced 3 other varieties from using mutated selections of Carex Evergold. In 2010 we expect to sell close to 1,000,000 Carex oshimensis in 4 varieties all coming from plants received as a birthday present back in 1989.

7. No matter how I try I can never remember the jokes properly I love listening to them but when I go repeat them they re gone. Very annoying.

8. During by first year at college while making my first cold frame I cut my knee badly with a chain saw, that same summer I was passenger in a serious car accident and missed a summer job in Netherlands. I am a terrible carpenter and totally useless at DIY jobs so dont ask me to fix your shelves!
9. When I worked for people with special needs I sometimes used to just blend in with them when people from outside wandered into the nursery. I would let them assume I was one of the lads so they wouldn't ask stupid questions about plants which took up our time from what we were really meant to be doing. OK there I have admitted it :) .

10. These are two among my favourite songs, my favourite group is Meatloaf this is another one of my favourite songs corny as it may be My favourite month is September and colour blue.