One of my favourite storage crops is the sweet potato and despite what you may have heard, they do grow well in the Ottawa area assuming you choose a short season variety and you remember that they are heat divas.
I've grown various ones in the past including Covington, Beauregard, Fraiser White, Georgia Jet, Japanese Yam, Cuban Red, Purple, Tainung 65 and Mystery. Generally speaking Georgia Jet is not only the highest yielding plant in my gardens but also most likely to flower.
Flower? Why should I care about that? Sweet potatoes are obligate out crossers meaning they require at least two genetically distinct individuals to produce seeds. As sweet potatoes are normally grown by slips, each new plant is a clone of its parent tuber. Not all sweet potatoes flower at the same time or with the same fervor. So assuming you have two different types of sweet potatoes in flower and that they are pollinated and that they have enough time to grow then - fingers crossed - you'll get seeds.
As they contain recombined genes from both parents, each seed is a surprise package.
Most of these new sweet potatoes are likely to be nothing special but… BUT… occasionally they will create a new important variety. So when both Georgia Jet and Purple started to flower, I started doing the plant breeding happy dance.
I watched. Bees visited. I waited. Flower upon flower fell off. Potential seed pod upon potential seed pod dried up. I obsessively checked every day. And...
A few started to swell with promise. We had seeds!
Cold weather loomed and I was forced to harvest but I protected my potential plant parents and their precious seed pods. Harvesting as they started to dry down.
The bare minimum of success. Next up, will any of them sprout.
All about growing, selecting and using edible plants in the Ottawa valley.