Gardener’s Guide to Great Sweet Potatoes

It might seem a bit strange that someone living in the Montana Rocky Mountains would write about having¬†fantastic sweet potatoes right out of your garden, but truth is that like regular potatoes, sweet potatoes can be grown in the far north, too. The keys to really great sweet potatoes begin after they are harvested, though. Because of this, we’ll concentrate on that part here and leave the steps for growing them for a later article. First off, it is important to understand that particularly in the northern US, people often use the words “yams” and “sweet potatoes” as if they were the same thing. They aren’t. In fact, yams and sweet potatoes are totally different plants that originated in different parts of the world and about the only thing they have in common is that they both have edible tubers or roots. We are specifically talking about sweet potatoes here, not yams. When Sweet Potatoes are Harvested People who have never grown sweet potatoes are often surprised to find out how little flavor they have right after they’ve been dug up. In fact, freshly harvested sweet potatoes are nearly flavorless. It takes time and the right steps for the wonderful flavor of sweet potatoes to properly develop. Don’t be disappointed if you harvest and immediately have sweet potatoes, but find that they are blah. Be Gentle With Sweet Potatoes One of the biggest mistakes that first time sweet potatoes growers make is to handle them as they would regular spuds. Continue Reading →

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Comparing Beets, Sweet Potatoes and Yams

While these are all root crops, these are all different plants. However, there can be some confusion about them, especially since the common name in one English-speaking country might not be the same as in another. For example, in the United States, ‘beets’ are usually a reference to the large, globular and usually deep red root that are often called ‘beetroot’ in the UK. It might be worthwhile to look at all three, noting how they are similar and how they differ. Beets (Beta vulgaris) Beets or beetroots are vegetables that have a large, bulb-shaped root. The root is normally shaped like the root of a radish or turnip, but the most commonly used cultivar is colored deep red, all the way through. There are cultivars that range from golden to purple and black in color, but these aren’t nearly as popular as the ones that are dark crimson. Beets are naturally high in sugar. It should be noted that one kind of beet is called the sugar-beet. While this is the same species, sugar beets have been specifically been bred to produce a root that is very high in sugar. Sugar beets aren’t commonly grown as food, but the roots are refined and refined sugar is made from them. Much of the refined sugar sold in many countries comes from sugar beets or a blend of sugar beet sugar and sugar cane sugar. The color of sugar beets usually isn’t the deep red of beetroot that is consumed as Continue Reading →

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