In at the deep end.

I'm not exactly bursting with gardening experience. I'm a director for the management company at the flats where I live, so have spent the last year tending the lawns, weeding, etc. As a kid, my parents had ambitions to go self-sufficient and I used to help out with the gardening and growing. I also spent a few summers with my grandfather, an allotment obsessive. So I have a good grounding in the basics - but I'm far from an expert.

So, what do I pick as the first thing to grow? Sweet Potatoes!

It'll probably turn out to be a huge mistake. They're not exactly renowned for being easy to grow here in the UK and need decent warm weather - something which seems a million miles away at the moment - at least judging by the conditions this afternoon when I went out to take a few photos, but had to abandon the idea before my ears fell off from frostbite. They were a natural choice for me though. One of the primary reasons for getting an allotment in the first place was my own health. I've got a long term, apparently impossible to diagnose issue with my metabolism, which seems to have resulted in reduced glucose tolerance and I also have a vitamin D level which is off the bottom of the scale. Sunlight and exercise seem to be the best remedy so far, along with a low GI diet. The latter means I've dropped all refined or high GI carbs - bread, potato, rice and pasta are all off the menu. Sweet potato is the one high carb food I tolerate well, so growing some seems the ideal challenge.

From the outset, it was a learning curve. I didn't have a clue whether you grew them from seeds or tubers. I didn't even know whether it was possible to grow them in the UK. But Google is the gardener's best friend and soon came up with the right info.

It transpire that the simplest way to grow them is from a sweet potato like the ones you might have in your kitchen. Placing one in water results in it sprouting shoots which, once grown to a certain size, you break off. The shoots, or "slips" you then place in water again until they develop a healthy sprig of roots, at which point they can be potted off into compost.

Having a ready stash, I set about suspending a couple in water. Struggling to find a jar big enough to suspend them in, I resorted to using a couple of long, thin potatoes immersed in a tupperware beaker.

They look a bit comical but, apparently, should start to throw off shoots within a couple of weeks. Just hope there's enough heat and sunlight for them to do so on my flat window sill. Time will tell......


February 13, 2010 В· admin В· No Comments
Tags:  В· Posted in: Vegetables

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