A Plentiful harvest

Brandi has been a member of the UNT Community Garden since the summer of 2021. One day, she was given some sweet potatoes to plant in her plot by our Project Coordinator, Emily.

Brandi recalls, "On a dark and stormy Texas summer afternoon, a wayward beginner gardener hid inside a shed to take shelter from the sudden rain. Another gardener came forth, also hiding from the storm. They chatted but a moment when the second gardener suddenly pulled something round from her bags and asked, 'Wanna plant sweet potatoes?' The other gardener gasped and responded, 'Yee.' "

The sweet potatoes have been growing wonderfully in the garden. They have grown some beautifully green leaves, and have grown upward on the trellis Brandi added to her plot. She has given a big thank you to the WMGF Coordinator, Emily Bilcik, for offering her sweet potatoes so randomly. To Brandi and other members of the garden, this is bittersweet because these potatoes were harvested during Emily's last week with UNT.  The harvest got her 5lbs of fresh sweet potatoes! Brandi expressed that the sweet potatoes "definitely became the surprise highlight of the summer. They were harvested a little early, but I wanted (Emily) to see the harvest of her kind gesture" before she departed.

Brandi has shared her gardening process with the UNT Community Garden members in case they want to grow their own sweet potatoes:

  1. She began with 3 whole Sweet Potatoes and planted them into the ground to grow slips. (~ 2.5 weeks)
  2. She planted 5 slips with compost. (Early July)
  3. She let them grow, and began to trellis them as they vined quickly. At this point, she added more compost. (August) 

There are a few learning tips that Brandi shared about this process. For one, growing many slips in small spaces make small potatoes. Another is that watering deeply makes a sort of carrot-shaped potato. If you want more round potatoes, Brandi suggests watering the entire garden bed around the potatoes. Most importantly, Brandi says, "plan for nothing! And, always take random seeds and plants from fellow gardeners."

Brandi is excited to make roasted sweet potatoes. She also says "I definitely plan to plant potatoes again for the next summer (perhaps the winter as well) after this amazing learning experience, and highly recommend this vegetable for other gardeners!"