Probably I couldn’t have picked a less promising summer for my first try at Pacific Northwest sweet potatoes.
I bought five slips from Territorial Seeds, rooted them in water, waited in vain for that burst of June warm weather to get them started in dirt, and finally had to put them in their container ready or not, because I was about to leave for Romania. When I got back in mid-July, three of the babies had given up the ghost, presumably discouraged by the endless chilly rain. The last two hung on, and I wheeled them around the deck like invalids on a cruise ship, following the fickle sun.
They sat, and sat, and sat, neither growing nor dying, until August when they finally perked up during our brief heat wave and put on a little growth. Then they sat some more. A week ago I upended the pot and harvest about a dozen hairy little roots. Little is the operative word. The entire “crop” probably came in at under a pound.
I roasted them along with some romano beans that weren’t going to make it to the shell stage but were getting too stringy to sauté. The flavor was excellent, actually--not as sweet as the garnet yams I get at the Co-op, but rich and fresh. I realized I’ve never knowingly eaten fresh sweet potatoes. Unless our forecast is for another non-summer, I’ll try them again next year.
Another semi-casualty of a cool summer in my shady yard was my kabocha squash. It actually produced four fruits on the one vine, which impressed me, but each one was the size of a medium cantaloupe, about half the usual girth.
Oh well. In a couple of weeks my winter CSA will start from Osprey Hill Farm, and while I doubt it will include sweet potatoes, I’ll bet I will have all the squash I could want.