Everyone seems to love sweet potatoes these days. I do too, but always thought they took up too much room and I couldn’t fit them into my little veggie patch. I was inspired when I read in ‘Jane’s Delicious Garden’ (a fabulous local food growing guide) that they were easy to grow in tyres, and decided to try some. I think I planted them too late (only in Feb). Anyway, the idea is that you twirl the stems which grow fast, back into the tyre tower and cover them with earth. I didn’t do this very scientifically and used a mixture of mole hills, sand and manure to fill mine up. The leaves produced well and are absolutely delicious, so at least I enjoyed them. They are very high in nutrients – protein in particular – and relished in traditional diets. Known as amakhasi kabhatata in Zulu.
Last week, as all the leaves had died back a while ago, I decided it was time to lift the tyres. Oh, what a disappointment! Only five tiny little finger sized tubers for all that effort! They did taste scrummy though, steamed and drizzled with olive oil for lunch in the sun. I think I will try again this year because a month or so ago I bought a big, rusty tin full of dark pink, gnarled sweet potatoes from an old lady at pension pay-out day at the local trading store. These were fabulous, with dense and flavourful flesh, so I have saved a few to sprout and plant this season. My friend Sharon, just let hers creep all over the ground and was amazed when she dug up the frosted leaves and stems to find a good crop underneath. She does have a sunnier spot though. Moles had nibbled quite a few of hers. Maybe I should try both ways this summer. I do like crops that produce more than one type of food – leaves and roots, so at least I’ll be assured of something delicious and nutritious to eat, whatever happens.