Sweet potatoes

Botanical Name: Ipomoea batatas

This easy to grow plant with it's heart shaped leaves can provide you greens as well as tubers. 

How easy is it to grow: 

Most sweet potatoes will self start if you leave them sit long enough in an arid place, or you can start them in a simple container with a little water, even a jar will do.  Just place half the sweet potato below the water line and wait.  Soon you will be rewarded with the first starts of steams and leaves.  You will know it  is time to plant, when you see the first roots.

What to plant it in, well allot of that depends what you want to do with it.   If you are not looking for a lot of tubers, you can grow it in a hanging basket and it will produce lots of yummy nutritious leaves.  In a hanging basket they can be taken in during the winter months and will continue to grow through out the winter months if placed by a sunny window.

 To grow for the best of both worlds and if you have enough space an old bathtub works great.  I place a layer of pebbles on the bottom and mix compost and soil together to fill the rest.  Sweet potatoes should be planted after they  start spouting little roots.  Do not cover the tubers up completely, you want to see a tinny bit of the top of the tuber. Keep in mind they are a sprawling perennial vines that will spread over a large area, so keep a close eye on them.    In just a few short weeks you will be growing super yummy greens and healthy yummy sweet potatoes.  

Some cool facts about the nutritional value of sweet potatoes is that the leaves and shoots are super good sources of Vitamins A, B, and C.  They are also high in plant based proteins and amino acids.  The tubers or sweet potatoes themselves are a great source for carbohydrates, plant based protein, vitamins A, and C, also really great levels of both iron and calcium, and is by far one of the healthiest vegetables out there.


What so do with you sweet potatoes leaves:

They can be eaten fresh in a salad, cooked like any green and added to soup, stews, casseroles and just about anything you want to add nutrition to.  They can also be dried for winter use and stored in jars or sealed in seal a meal bags with oxygen absorbers.  They can also be pickled, made into Kim Chee.  Goat cheese and black olive stuffed sweet potatoes can be a real treat.

What to do with the tubers or sweet potatoes:

Oh there are so many uses for these, they can be dried and and ground into flour, they can be baked like a regular potatoes, made into pies, fried, oh the possibilities are endless...

They will keep whole in a cool dry place, such as a root cellar.  I like to dehydrate some in cubes and some shredded for winter use.  You can also freeze them, but I think they get to mushy, I have heard of people canning them, but have never done it myself.

All parts of sweet potato make nutritious animal fodder and I encourage every one to consider treating their animals to some.

Now some recipes that I love and use...

Black walnut and Sweet Potato Bread Recipe


Makes: 8 to 10 servings



  1. Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Dust a  regular loaf pan with butter and flour.
  2. Combine the measured flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium bowl and whisk, set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the sweet potato, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the melted butter and mix on low speed until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated, and then mix in the vanilla.
  4. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. On low speed add half of the reserved flour mixture, then 1/4 cup of the milk. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk, mixing until just combined, about 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the nuts.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a pick in the center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely. The bread will last covered for up to 5 days.


Fermented Sweet Potato Leaves

2 large handfuls of sweet potato leaves
1 T salt(5ml)
1 clean quart-sized Mason jar

Wash your sweet potato leaves well. Take a clean quart sized canning jar and place rolled leaves into jar.

Add salt to roughly 3 cups of water and pour over curly dock leaves, leaving at least 1 inch of headspace in the jar.

Push leaves down to the bottom of the jar, and if they float to the top you will need to weight them down.

All leaves need to be submerged below liquids, otherwise mold will form! Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days, then transfer to cold storage (refrigerator or root cellar).



Homemade Pickled Vegetables




  1. Sterilize the jar by boiling it for 15 minutes. Place the jar sideways in boiling water, allowing the water to flow in.

  2. Boil water, vinegar and salt to create the brine.

  3. Place 3 to 5 sprigs of dill and 1 to 2 grape leaves (to help your vegetables stay crisp) in the sterilized jar. Stuff jars loosely with vegetables. Add red pepper as desired for spicy pickles.

  4. Pour the boiling brine over the vegetables, leaving 1/2 inch of head space at the top of the jar.

  5. Wipe the rim of the jar and heat the lid for a few seconds before sealing. Boil the jar for 10 minutes. After boiling, be careful not to touch the lid. It will take 15 minutes for the jar to create a vacuum and seal itself. Pickles will be ready to eat in 6 weeks.

This segment appears in show #2822.

Recipes courtesy of Camille Roy
© 2003 2003 Camille Roy


Pickled sweet potatoe Leaves and shoots

Click here to find out more!



2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. salt
1⁄4 cup white vinegar
1⁄2 lb. sweet potatoes leaves by weight, not measure
3 red or green Serrano chilies, split lengthwise

1. In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups water, sugar, salt, and vinegar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then remove from heat. Cool slightly.

2. Using a paring knife, trim stems of washed mustard greens from leaves. Cut stems into 2" pieces and place in a 1-quart measuring cup. Coarsely chop enough greens to fill the measuring cup when added to stems and packed down gently.

3. Pack stems, leaves, and chilies into a clean glass 1-quart jar. Pour hot liquid onto greens, making sure that the stems are completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 days before serving.




An approximate recipe: for Kim chi

Chop and/or slice a mix of vegetables, about 4 cups. Thin slices allow the brine to better penetrate, and a variety of shapes and densities create a more interesting mouthful. Because this is a fermented product, use toxin-free, organic, well washed veggies. It takes about a week to make this version, based on Sandor Katz’s recipe. Some kimchi is fermented longer, and the above wild ingredients can be adapted for other fermentation methods.

In addition to the wild ideas above, conventional ingredients include radishes (daikon, red, black), cabbage (Chinese, purple, green, napa), carrots, cucumbers, turnips — the list is potentially endless.

Mix about 1 quart warm non-chlorinated water with 3 tablespoons great tasting sea salt. Add veggies and brine to the crock. Submerge the vegetables in the brine. You’ll want to weight down the veggies so that they are all covered. A plate on top with a jar of water to weight it down works well. If the veggies aren’t covered, make more brine.

Let the veggies soak in the brine overnight, or 4-5 hours if you want to finish in one day. After the soaking period, drain the mix, reserving the brine. Taste for saltiness. If it is too salty, you can rinse the vegetables. If not salty enough, add more. How salty is enough? You should taste salt, but it should not be overwhelming. I probably err on the weak side. It is partly a matter of taste, but you want enough to be clearly present. Experiment.

You’ll want to create a spice paste. Ginger, garlic, chilies, maybe even some horseradish root are important ingredients. Suggested amounts are 2-3 tablespoons of finely chopped ginger (although some prefer matchsticks), 3-4 crushed cloves of garlic, 2-3 chilies (dried or fresh can be used - remove seeds), 1-2 teaspoons finely chopped horseradish root and a chopped onion (or scallion, leeks, or chives). Mix together the paste with a bit of water if needed, then mix into the vegetables. Transfer back to the crock, and add back the corrected brine, so that it again covers the vegetables. Use the plate to keep the veggies submerged, place a weight on it if it isn't heavy enough, (I use a small jar filled with water set on the plate) and then cover the crock or jar with a towel or cheesecloth so that no dust or insects can enter.

Taste the mix daily, to note when it tastes “done”. If you aren’t familiar with kimchi, have some friends who can help you, or compare to what you’ve found by exploring local restaurants.

The fermentation can happen in your kitchen, away from heat, in a safe place where it won’t be disturbed but also where it won’t be forgotten. Once you like it, transfer veggies and brine to a large clean jar, with a lid, and store it in the refrigerator. It will last a month or two and continue to ferment in the refrigerator.

For more options on how to make kimchi, and for some history, here are a couple links I found. There is also some writing about the health benefits of kimchi:
A recipe without fermentation, some history, and another person using Sandor's recipe with nice photos.

As you will learn, you can make it more or less fermented, adjust sweetness, and of course the amount of heat is very adjustable. As the ground thaws, dig up some wild roots and try a bit of fermentation. Or just buy some veggies and start experimenting. If you have some recipes or experiences to share, I welcome your comments as well.

Linda Diane Feldt is a local holistic health practitioner, teacher, and writer. You can follow her on twitter, visit her website, and check out her free monthly classes on herbal medicine sponsored by The People's Food Co-op. Her cookbook, "Spinach and Beyond: Loving Life and Dark Green Leafy Vegetables" which does not contain this recipe, is available locally at Morgan and York, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore, Nicola's and can be ordered through Amazon.com.






Milk comes from cows

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