The sweet potato is, perhaps, my very favorite plant in the garden. When we have a good harvest of roots, I eat at least one sweet potato a day until May or June of the following year. I never get tired of them, especially since there is such a variety of color, taste, and texture in the sweet potato realm. The roots are fabulous, but did you know that the leaves and vine tips are a worthy vegetable, in and of themselves?
Sweet potatoes are pretty easy to grow, and they are quite heat tolerant. For folk growing in the North, one might seriously consider using black plastic mulch to increase yields.
A couple of years ago I learned something that some cultures have known, probably for thousands of years. Sweet potato greens are delicious and nutritious!
Personally, I probably wouldn’t grow them just for greens, as they really cook down. To make a big batch of sweet potato greens, one would have to pick a lot. Still, sweet potatoes do produce A LOT of greens. Once they get going, it shouldn’t affect the root harvest much at all, to trim some leaves and vine tips to add to a stir fry or cook on the side. What’s more, they are extremely nutritious, being high in vitamin C, B6, and riboflavin.
Even in places, they have been traditionally consumed, sweet potato greens are being “rediscovered.”
Give them a try. If you already have sweet potatoes in your garden, then all you have to do is go out there and pick some greens, wash them and either stir into a stir fry or steam as a side dish. If you don’t have them in your garden, then you may find the greens in an Asian grocery, but BE SURE to plant some in next year’s garden!
Sweet potatoes ought to be planted in late spring or early summer. Here’s a good source starts: