Beetroot are a bit of a neglected vegetable, but they’re easy to grow and offer something new and fresh to your kitchen.
Want to triple the amount of vitamin C you get from root vegetables? Grow sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are growing in popularity, and though they’re well established in warmer parts of the world, these veggies have only recently come into the home growing niche for countries in temperate zones. They can be grown outdoors as long as you have a warm and sunny position to place them in, and will result in you having a fresh vegetable that gives three times the amount of Vitamin C than an ordinary potato.
Plant sweet potato slips in pots
Sweet potatoes are not grown from seeds, but small cuttings called ‘slips’. These are easily ordered online during April, and when they arrive, you should put them immediately into pots of soil. Place each slip on the surface and cover the pots with plastic bags to retrain heat and moisture whilst sweet potatoes root. Alternatively buy young plants.
Prepare the ground for sweet potatoes
Once the slips have rooted, you can start growing them on. If you want to grow sweet potatoes outdoors, you need to prepare the ground before planting. Choosing a sheltered and sunny position with free draining soil, dig in a large amount of organic matter such as well rotted manure or compost. From late March, lay black polythene on the soil surface to help warm up the ground below and prevent weeds from growing.
Replant sweet potato plants
Once sweet potatoes have outgrown their pots and the last frosts have passed, they can be planted outdoors after first being acclimatised. The easiest way to do this is to plant directly through the plastic by making a small cut. Cover plants with a cloche to retain heat, and feed with a high potassium liquid feed every two weeks.
Harvesting sweet potatoes
Slips will take between four and five months to mature, and you should lift sweet potatoes as the leaves become yellow. Unfortunately, tubers do not store well and should be eaten quickly.