Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Last year's garden boxes yielded an impressive harvest of sweet potatoes.
Considered a "super food", this yummy root packed with beta carotene
 is one of my family's favorites.
This is just a small sampling of our yield.

Planting our garden above ground in boxes gave us the best
harvest we have ever had.
I planted sweet potatoes in each box...
between the other vegetables.

While the other veggies were flourishing above ground,
the sweet potatoes were growing big and nutritious below.

A large harvest left me with the problem of how to preserve these
nutritious spuds.
Because we don't have a root cellar, per se,
I had to come up with another idea.

Follow me downstairs to our basement... 

When we built our home,
we kept a small room in one corner to use as excess
pantry storage.
We left the heat ducts out of this room, so that it would
maintain a constant temperature in the 50's.

It is here that we have our freezers,
and our home-canned goods, along with other
grocery items.

Our frozen and preserved vegetables have gotten us through the winter.

The sweet potatoes I washed, dried and packed in plastic totes
filled with clean fresh pine bedding.
I placed each layer of potatoes in the bin 
so that they would not touch each other.
Then I covered them with more bedding 
so that none were exposed to the air.

We have eaten them all winter long.
5 months after I dug them up
they still look as good as the day they were harvested...
free from decay; and no eyes have formed.

This idea has been a winner for us.
I plan to do the same this summer.

Oh, and how excited I am for gardening season,
aren't you?


Paradise Found Farmgirl said...

Thank you for the great tips! I will be growing mine in raised beds this year and I will try storing mine that way also. Mice ate alot of my sweet potatoes before I could dig them up last year. Hope I have better luck this year. I may try some interplanting to deter them. Onions and garlic maybe.

Anke said...

So you just planted the sweet potatoes in between the other veggies? I've never tried to grow sweet potatoes, but I might need to try this. The rest of the family isn't crazy about them, but I love sweet potatoes!

Beverly said...

Wherever I had a little space in a box, I planted a vine....not between my tomatoes and peppers, however.

They were really full boxes and the vines would have gotten no sunlight......but in all the other boxes I stuck a few plants. The sweet potato vines cascaded down the sides of the boxes, while the spuds were happily growing beneath the soil.

kpaints said...

Great gardening tips! What a wonderful storage area for all your bounty! It sure is amazing when 'our' veggies last 5-6 months and still taste good...tells you how old the ones in the store must be! Ugh!

Farm Girl said...

What a good idea, now I need a root cellar. I wish I were excited this year about gardening. I think life has caught up and I am having a hard time even looking at my favorite seed catalogs. Maybe when it warms up I will get excited about the warm earth.
I am afraid I might have to turn in my farm girl badge. :( Have a wonderful day.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bev! clever idea,is the pine bedding costly? And can you reuse it this year?

missy max said...

Pretty while growing as well as yummy when they come to the table!!!

Beverly said...

I buy bags of pine bedding at the farm store, feed store, etc. They run me about $5 a bag....huge bag, more than enough for many containers of spuds. I plan to re-use the bedding....none of the spuds have even begun to decompose, so the bedding is just fine.

Lauren said...

Thats great :) definately going to try sweet potatoes this year. I was wondering since your raised beds do so well what spacing guidlines you go buy Im starting 6 RB this year but was afraid I will over plant them Thanks Lauren

Beverly said...


What I found is this. You can make pretty good use of space if you think outside the box. Anything that can possibly climb needs to go up....trellis, or some sort of frame to climb on increases the amount you can get in the bed. Other vining plants such as squash only need enough room for the plant at the ground...the rest can trail out of the box. I over planted my peppers and tomatoes and could have had a better yield if I had spaced them out. This year I will plant tomatoes and peppers in each box and plant smaller things around their base....instead of a box stuffed full of tomatoes or peppers. This has been a learning process for me....each year I learn a little more what works and what doesn't.

Ms. Bake-it said...

What a great idea on the storage of the potatoes. I am going to pass that information to my mom and aunt who have gardens.

Thanks for sharing!

~ Tracy

Teresa said...

That is amazing! They still look perfect, and that pantry is just wonderful. I must say I am starting to really get anxious to get my hands in the dirt.

Lauren said...

Thanks :)

Diane said...

What a great idea. We are planting lots of red and white potatoes this year. This sounds like a grea way to preserve some of the harvest.

Tammy said...

Love your ideas on saving those sweet potatoes. This was our first year growing sweet potatoes and we ended up storing them in the garage, wrapping the crates in blankets. They don't look as nice as yours; that's for sure.
Also, I noticed your picture of the Susquehanna River. We have one of those. My hubby is a construction manager who oversaw the renovations at the Harrisburg Hotel years ago. There happened to be an extra print so he was able to keep it. We keep ours in the basement as well- in storage!


Esther Groce said...

Can this be done with other root veggies... like potatoes and carrots? Beets?

Beverly Frankeny said...

Hi Esther! Yes, you can mix up your vegetables....just make sure that what you mix with your underground veggies lets enough light to the root veggie leaves. Sweet potatoes work best because of their vining....so the leaves trail all over the place, soaking up available sunlight. I often put rows of carrots and beets in amongst or around other plants.


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