Before I was even finished harvesting last year’s sweet potato crop, I began to plan out how to trial my sweet potato varieties for this year. The delay between placing my order in November and receiving the sweet potatoes in a battered priority shipping box in May provided me time to think about how I could prepare to have a better harvest this year.
|My poor-looking Purple Delight Slips
|The battered priority mailbox that contained my sweet potato slips
My first encounter with the sad-looking slips I received in mid-May left me wondering if they would make it a week, let alone a season, in my garden. Having seen a slight improvement in the growth of my All-Purple Sweet potatoes in April with the application of EM-1, I decided to add some EM-1 to the plot. As the slips finally established themselves I honestly expected very little but still held out hope for the best.
|My Purple Delight sweet potato slips (to the left of the bush bean)
The harvest of root crops can be both exciting and scary - in that the gardener has no idea what good (or bad) could possibly lie just under the surface of the soil. The longer the span of time the crop requires to mature, the longer the gardener is left to imagine how the tubers are growing, with only the top of the plant to give any clues to the health of what lies below. Revealing what lies under the ground is like unwrapping a large gift, not knowing beforehand if it contains something really wonderful or something you would rather give away.
|The area that the Purple Delight covered is in the foreground
|The Purple Delight Vines take up roughly 1/5 of the area on the bottom left
Because my life has been so busy I have not really had the time to take harvesting my sweet potatoes seriously until a few days ago, when I realized that the night temperatures would soon dip below freezing. My first priority was to determine how well the new purple varieties had grown and I wanted to harvest these two varieties first, so that I could compare them to my All-Purple variety. From cleaning out some vines in the area of my Purple Delight sweet potato vines I soon found enough potatoes outside of my garden bed to start filling up a bucket.
|A few Purple Delight potatoes I harvested outside of the garden
Soon thereafter came the moment that every gardener either hates or loves: digging to find out what is in the garden bed. Here are a few pictures I took while digging around:
|Are there any Sweet Potatoes in there?
|Pulling out the first Sweet Potatoes
|I think I found something
|A closer look (the black thing is a soaker hose)
|Exposing a few more potatoes, the next day.
|Accessing sweet potatoes sometimes requires me to dig a little
|The Purple Delight Sweet Potato Crop
Over time I have developed three main criteria that I aspire to have my sweet potato crop meet: Large production, high quality dark flesh, and marketable size and shape.
|This potato turned up to be a bit too big to easily sell
|My favorite potato retained its beauty and high quality flesh even at a large size
As shown in the pictures, the Purple Delight produces well (48+ pounds from one root ball) and the exhibits a very dark purple color. Although the shape and size of roots varied greatly there seemed to have been very few (if any) “woody” roots.
|The over 48 pounds of Purple Delight Sweet Potatoes
Overall, I would have to say that I have been very pleased with the Purple Delight sweet potato. Of all people, I would have never dreamed at the outset that the scrawny slips from a battered box would produce so well.
Note: Purple Delight is also known as Alabama Purple. I will definitely be doing some taste testing in the future!