Thomas shares her ‘sweet potato surprise’
Published 3:00 am Friday, November 27, 2015
For several years, Martha Thomas’ “sidekick” has been a sweet potato vine.
Each spring, she goes to Lowe’s and picks out several sweet potato vine plants for the different planters in and around her home. Some of the planters are small, some are large and some are up-sized. Some of the planters grace the lawn and others hang around on the porch. In seemingly, no time, the sweet potato vines have produced lush colorful foliage.
“I like the sweet potato vines because they grow fast and make beautiful vines that take over whatever containers they are in,” Thomas said. “They grow like weeds in the bright sun or in the shade. They are as pretty on the porch as they are out where they can get sun.”
And, the sweet potato vines are a good value at around $3.
Thomas’ sweet potato vines were exceptionally pretty this year and she gave credit to Miracle-Gro and cow manure.
“They were lush and colorful, just about the prettiest I’d ever seen,” she said.
The Indian summer-like days extended the life of the sweet potato vines but finally the vines begin to wither.
“I decided it was time to pull up the vines but I got a big surprise when I did,” Thomas said. “Where there’s usually these little tubers, there were sweet potatoes. Not just little sweet potatoes and not just a few. Big sweet potatoes and a lot of them.”
Thomas had started pulling up the vines in the largest container and, with every scoop of dirt, she unearthed a sweet potato.
She went from one container to the other, from the small ones to the large ones, and everywhere she went, she dug up sweet potatoes.
“I had never seen anything like it,” she said. “I’d been growing sweet potato vines for years and this was the first time they produced sweet potatoes. Another thing that was puzzling was that the vines with the purple leaves didn’t have potatoes, only those with the green leaves.”
Thomas harvested her surprise sweet potatoes but then didn’t know what to do with them.
“On the outside, they looked just like regular sweet potatoes but, on the inside, they were white looking. I didn’t know if you could eat them or not,” she said. “I asked one of my neighbors to eat one but he wouldn’t.”
A little research revealed that the sweet potatoes are not for eating. The taste would deter that.
So, Thomas is left with a several choices – use the surprise sweet potatoes in Thanksgiving arrangements, throw them in the garbage or stick them back in the ground and wait to see what other surprises the sweet potato vine plants might have.
Thomas decided on all three. Some of the sweet potato surprises are nicely arranged, others are back snug in the pots and the others are on the way to the garbage dump.
Spring will tell the tale of the sweet potato surprise and Thomas is thinking, maybe, a sprout about it.