This blog post is on growing and harvesting sweet potato leaves. Sweet potato always has a special in my heart. During the Second World War as it was easy to grow crop in tropical climate therefore it sustain my ancestors during that period. Where at this period fresh food was hard to come by. Some childhood stories told by parents. When I eat sweet potato leaves it brings back childhood memories too.
Sweet potato is great tuber to grow as well and it’s good for you being a super food. This is due to it’s high amount of nutrients in it. The leaves as said is edible as well and is high in nutrients. In comparison with ordinary potato it is relatively disease free and foliage/ leaves are edible. However, the downside is that it is not hardy to frost at all to temperate climate like the UK. Sweet potato plant loves heat, sun and well drained soil. That all it needs to grow.
Growing and harvesting sweet potato leaves
I would focus mainly to growing sweet potato leaves as it is what I have successfully manage to grow easily. To grow the leaves one will need to either get some cuttings or buy a fresh sweet potato tuber. As long it is fresh it will sprout. Most supermarket sweet potato will not sprout as they have been treated with chemical to stop them from sprouting.
After tracking down some tubers online on eBay I found a supplier based in the south of Italy. It was a Molokai variety and the tuber looked fresh as it was grown themselves. As much as I would like to give details of the seller unfortunately there isn’t any on sale at the moment. I have seen Homebase selling sweet potato plants in Springtime but it was just one-off. It is not easy to track down a sweet potato that will sprout. I have tried previously to sprout them from supermarket bought ones and it simply wouldn’t sprout very unlike potatoes that you buy from supermarkets. I have only grown Molokai variety but there of varieties around plenty around to try. Molokai has got a red flesh variety and it has deep purple stems.
Once I got hold of the tubers, given some warmth it sprouted non stop. So much so I have now loads of sweet potato leaves as it is a bush variety. Plan is that I will divide them up so that I can increase my yield and they can grow to their full potential. It also prevents overcrowding of sweet potato leaves. Sometimes it is a matter of finding room for them.
I have since brought them indoors due to change of weather and try to overwinter them for next year Spring. Either that, another option would be is to dig up the tubers and keep it in cool dry place till Spring. I got three tubers so now experiment with the three. One to keep in nice and dry place. The ones sprouted is to harvest the leaves keep the stem and grow them as indoor house plants.
It is possible to root sweet potato from stems bought in Asian supermarket. As the stems are ready to produce roots at its joint. Simply cut the leaves off that are going to be soaked otherwise it will rot. Then soak in water till it roots out. If it has roots then just put in a pot with compost.
Sweet potato leaves are ready to harvest when they are big enough to cook. They are simply great to cook and add to stir-fries. Here is a link to Pak Choi stir fry. Sweet potato leaves have got spinach-like taste.