We are still working on getting all of our tomatoes and peppers transplanted out, but this week we have also been busy getting 400 sweet potato slips in. Sweet potatoes are grown from a sprout or “slip” unlike regular potatoes, which propagate from the planted pieces of the original spud. To get the slips, you let a sweet potato grow sprouts, then break the sprouts off and let those grow roots, which you then plant. In the past we have tried growing our own slips, but have never had much luck—they grew super slowly and we didn’t get many. So this year we decided to buy them, and we found a place in Iowa that has dozens and dozens of different varieties and was literally the only farm that had some of the heirloom varieties we were seeking. A generous grant from Slow Food St. Louis allowed us to choose 8 varieties, a mix of white, orange, and purple. This seems a bit late to be planting them, but the place we got them from doesn’t ship them until mid-late June and claims that sweet potatoes planted later in the summer heat did better than those planted earlier. Sweet potatoes are super susceptible to the cold, and if you plant them too early and they get a few cool nights, they can become stunted, rot, or become colonized by fungus. They assured us that late-planted sweet potatoes still produce bumper crops come late September, so we shall see!
We are about to harvest our garlic, and many of you will be getting fresh, uncured garlic this week. After harvesting garlic it needs to cure (be in an airy, warm, dry spot) for about 10 days so that it will store well. However, you can eat it when you first harvest it, and the uncured garlic has a slightly different flavor, a little more sweet and savory and less spicy. This garlic needs to be used within about a week or two, and is better kept in the fridge
Many of you will also be getting new potatoes this week. New potatoes are simply young potatoes harvested early. They are smaller and have a thin skin, which makes them nice and tender, but they do not store as well as mature potatoes. Like the garlic, they should be used in the next week and stored in the fridge.