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Sweet Potatoes

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Sweet potatoes will produce your greatest gardening thrill ever. They will be fresh green and beautiful when the rest of your garden is brown and dry. The sweet potato is one of the most delicious, versatile and nutritious food crops you can grow. Once you start growing these tasty gems, they will become a constant in your garden every year. We’ve included just a few recipes to help you enjoy your crop. Enjoy!

Planting & Growing

Prepare a large ridge, 12 to 15 inches high and make a furrow about 2 inches deep in the middle of the ridge and cover with black plastic about two weeks before planting time. Black plastic will warm the soil and your plants will begin to grow immediately after they are put in the ridge. The large ridge of loosely worked soil help the potato grow large and smooth. A regular garden hoe and a little work can prepare a ridge that will be a good growing place for your sweet potatoes.

When you are ready to plant your potatoes (late in the afternoon if possible) use a knife to make a small slit in the plastic. Slits every 12 inches will be about the right distance to put plants to produce average size potatoes. If larger potatoes are desired, the slits should be 15 to 18 inches apart. Put the roots of each plant in a peg hole made under each slit and pour about a cup of water around the roots. Then use you hand to ‘firm-up’ the soil around the roots. Protection is needed when unseasonable cool weather is expected.

Sweet potatoes can withstand quite a bit of dry weather, but regular rain or irrigation will help cause the potatoes to increase in size by an unbelievable amount. About 90 to 100 days after planting, lift the plastic and gently remove the soil from the side of one or two plants. If the potatoes have reached the size you desire, they are ready to harvest. If a freeze or snow is expected, then harvest your potatoes even if they have not reach the desired size. Use a digging fork or shovel to remove the potatoes from the ridge and gently place them, unwashed, in a sturdy ventilated crate. If possible, place the crate in an area that is about 85 degrees for about seven days. This will help heal the skins, cuts may occur during harvesting, and will cause the potatoes to become much sweeter. Most potatoes will stay sound and good all winter long at a temperature of 55 degrees to 60 degrees if they aren’t disturbed from their original resting place in the storage container.

Recipes

Sweet Potato Casserole with Topping

CASSEROLE:
3 cups hot sweet potatoes mashed,
1/3 cup milk,
1/2 cup butter or margarine,
1 cup white sugar,
2 eggs,
1 tbsp vanilla

Mix and pour into casserole.

TOPPING:
1 cup light brown sugar,
1/2 cup plain flour,
1/3 cup butter or margarine (not melted),
1 cup chopped nuts

Mix together with fork and sprinkle crumbs on top of the casserole. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Sweet Potato Fluff

4 or 5 potatoes mashed,
1 8oz. can crushed pineapple (drained),
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts,
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar,
1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp cream Sherry,
3 tbsp melted butter or margarine,
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs

With a fork, blend the mashed potatoes, pineapple, water chestnuts, sugar, slat Sherry, and 2 tbsp of butter. Turn into a shallow 1 qt. baking dish. Stir remaining butter quickly into bread crumbs and spread mix evenly over top. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Coconut Custard Yam Pie

2 cups mashed sweet potatoes,
3 eggs,
1/2 cup granulated sugar,
1/4 cup packed brown sugar,
1 tsp salt,
1 tsp cinnamon,
1/2 tsp nutmeg,
1/4 tsp ginger,
1/8 tsp cloves,
1 cup evaporated milk,
1 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut, loosely packed,
1 unbaked 9″ pastry shell

In a large bowl beat eggs, sugars, salt and spices. Add mashed sweet potatoes and evaporated milk, mix well. fold in 1 cup grated coconut. Turn into unbaked shell. Bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes or until tip of knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Top with ice cream.

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