Another wonderful seed company, Sow True Seed! I always love the amount of information in their catalog. There are wonderful descriptions for each and every variety. Many Vegetable headings even include useful growing tips. This catalog is mostly vegetables and herbs with a few pages filled with several varieties of flowers as well as a good handful of helpful cover crops such as clover, winter pea, and alfalfa seed. There are many many more on their website as well.
They also offer buckwheat, barley, & rye as well. The cover crop seeds start at 1 lb packages and go up to 10 lbs while the seed packets range from $2.50 to $2.95 this season. They offer many seeds in quantities up to 1 oz with the heavier seeds available up to 1 lb quantities. They include photos for most varieties. They also include several less common herbs such as Borage, Anise hyssop, Feverfew, and Lovage.
Another nice bonus for this company is that they offer sweet potatoes other than your standard Beauregard potato. They also offer white, purple, and orange varieties. Last season I grew one bed (4′x8′x10″) of sweet potatoes. I didn’t really have high expectations for them as every time in the past that I have grown them the rabbits and other animals ate the greens right down to the ground. When the plants finally caught back up it was too late int he season for them to really grow tubers of any reasonable size.
This year when I planted the sweet potatoes, I was hoping the fence around the garden would help a bit, but again.. not really expecting anything different than past years. As it turns out, the fence did help even thought it was still wide enough for a rabbit to get through! out of my 4′x8′ bed I harvested 35 lbs of sweet potatoes! I planted the Beauregard slips in mid June and harvested them in Mid to late October. The bed they were growing in was 10″ tall and seemed to be deep enough for the plants as most of the potatoes were quite close to the surface. I used a pitchfork to loosen the soil around each plant before pulling the plant up to reveal the potatoes. It was such a surprise this year to see how many sweet potatoes grew! The vines had even flowered in a few places right before I dug them up. I did still have a handful of small ones that were no larger than 2 or 3 inches. but most were at least a pound or so. The largest one was growing crammed into one of the corners of the bed and weighed in at 8 pounds! It was shaped just like a loaf of bread.
After I dug all of the potatoes up I still felt like I was unsure how exactly to “cure” them. I asked several of the people at various local farmers markets what they did to help their sweet potatoes last through the fall/winter. The basic responses were.. either eat them right away (straight out of the ground) or, let them sit out without cleaning them to dry the outside skin for a few days & you’ll be good. I let them lay out on plexi bread trays I got from a local commercial kitchen supply store that sells used equipment. Those trays have been some of the most useful tools in the garden! Well, those and the large black “bus boy buckets” I got from there as well. So,.. the 35lbs of sweet potatoes sat outside in the shade for about 4 or 5 days (would have been longer, but it rained so they got brought in) I was a bit concerned they hadn’t sat out long enough, but they looked to be dried on the outside, so I packed them up into cardboard boxes and folded the tops down. So far, so good & it’s already January and I’m still eating sweet potatoes from the garden!
Growing the sweet potatoes seemed so easy compared to many of the other vegetables in the garden. There is no way I won’t be growing them again this year! I am thinking of trying the “All Purple” variety from Sow True seed this year as well!
St. Louis, where we are located is in US Agricultural Zone 6b (Find out about your agricultural zone here!!). From the slightly shorter growing season we had last year due to the late frosts and my late planting, I would venture to guess you could quite successfully grow sweet potatoes even a zone or two colder/farther north. Cant’ wait for Spring!!