Saturday, December 18, 2010

Always Be Prepared for Potatoes

It's cold in Florida. Not really cold in comparison to anywhere else on earth right now, but cold enough to panic the geriatrics and cold enough to knock down my sweet potato vines. This means it's time to search for subterranean tubers.

Of course when I decided to explore the tangle of vines that have been inhabiting the eastern half of my garden since June, it was an impromptu post-work visit in fading daylight and dropping temperatures.

All it took was finding the first potato to spur a fury of digging. An ill-advised fury of barehanded clawing is more accurate. I lost a lot of good fingernails that day.

Not terribly sweet potatoes.
I can't remember if I started with three or four plants but in the end I walked away with about 8 lbs. of sweet potatoes. Maybe I'll fire up the Wii fit again to weigh them. There is also the possibility that I missed some while digging. Some potatoes were found under more than a foot of dirt and nearly two feet away from where the vine was first planted.

One interesting note is that, apparently, sweet potatoes have to be cured after harvest to increase sweetness. Industrial operations hold them for 2 or 3 days at about 90F and 90% relative humidity. The potatoes continue to live after harvest and digest their own starches into sugars. It also helps the skins heal from damages during harvest.

I don't actually like sweet potatoes, but I'm happy that I can grow them. Like most other products of my garden, these will eventually become portrait subjects. While they're curing it'll give me plenty of time to find an interesting way to light a potato.

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