You would not believe how giddy this makes me but growing under my lights right now are five precious sweet potato babies. Now before you wonder why this is exciting or that you've heard all about this sort of thing before, let me do my common name security check in the form of questions.
1. Did you know that Solanum tuberosum - potato - is not in the same family as Ipomoea batatas - sweet potatoes? True Potato Seeds (TPS) is also a thing and it is arguably easier to get potato berries than sweet potato seed.
2. Did you know Sweet Potato is generally vegetatively propagated by slips?
3. Did you know that each seedling represents a new variety?
4. Lastly, do you have a bunch of TSWPs? You do? Really? Are you a giant research station? No? Wanna chat? Yes?!?
Okay, so last year, I got lucky. Or to be more accurate, my sweet potato flowers did...courtesy of bees and my own pollen transference. I got a very small quantity of seed. I wasn't sure if they'd sprout. I used the warm baggie method and waited and waited. A few rotted. I was getting a little disappointed but always the hopeless plant optimist, I scarified, soaked and roots!
Each sprout is a new variety. Probably all five little guys are nothing special BUT small steps. I'm hoping to get a much higher seed set (weather etc... cooperating) this year in order to do a larger sowing with selection.
Well, exploration is its own reward no? Other than that, I have a hankering for a zonally purple-orange sweet potato. The above cross is Purple x Georgia Jet so maybe? I'm also adding some other flowering types to the mix this year. Ultimately, my goal is a short season variety with a nice shape, good storage capacity, nice taste along with being highly nutritious (using colour as a proxy for vitamin content). An increased ability to flower and set seed would be a bonus allowing for further selection
Fascinating article about the nitty gritty of sweet potoates
All about growing, selecting and using edible plants in the Ottawa valley.