Friday, December 20, 2013

Pre December Solstice Purple Sweet Potato Harvest

How fast time flies, for tomorrow is already Winter Solstice (or Summer Solstice for those Down Under). To clear up a few containers on the balcony, I decided to pull out the purple sweet potato that I planted in August. Actually, at the 2 month mark, I had already seen a tuber form in one of the two containers, but didn't bother to harvest it in November when it reached the 3 month mark post-planting. As time goes by, the containers that they were in were getting more and more distorted, and even the soil had begun to rise.
Purple Sweet Potato flowers hanging off the balcony.

Despite the time-frame and the visual clues, I was reluctant to harvest it, for it kept on providing the balcony with lovely clusters of purple flowers that dangle off the balcony. After visiting Diana at KBB, and receiving some precious seeds to plant, I got on to reorganising the plants on the balcony (hmm, sounds like a never ending process) and today, I finally got to harvesting the sweet potato. This is also to throw out the old compost that they are growing in that had a few pest issues.
They are pretty good bloomers, with at least 5-6 blooms every other day!

The first container that was quite severely distorted and also had soil that was lifted up from beneath yielded 4 tubers. Mind you, the containers are only 29.5cm long x 12cm high x 11.3cm at the widest (top part). The middle section of the container is no wider than 8cm, and I had only 6 inches of soil as I filled the pot with charcoal pieces to make sure that the soil had ample drainage.
The blue lines mark the original soil surface which is now tilted to one side. The lighter blue area shows the level of the soil that was lifter up off the container, and the bulge on the side of the container can be seen. Mesti ada ubi di dalam.
Four oddly shaped purple sweet potatoes. The container had an inch of charcoal chips lining the bottom, thus limiting the space that is available for them to grow.

The second container also showed some distorted, but with less of a soil uplifting. This container only gave two normal tubers, one thin tuber that is probably from a pencil root and a lot of red coloured pencil roots. The thing is, this is the container that receives more fertiliser as any excess liquid fertiliser gets dumped into this container.
The second container yielded a whole bag of pencil and fibrous roots, plus two normal tubers and a swollen pencil root that is oddly bent like a U.
That is all folks...all the purple sweet potato that I got from the balcony. Not too bad for small containers and little care other than water, sunlight and minimal fertiliser.

The conclusion from this sweet potato patch are:

  • too much fertiliser = a lot of pencil and fibrous roots
  • more sun = more tubers
  • no need to line the bottom of the containers with charcoal/rocks for drainage
  • small containers = funny shaped tubers like really flat on one side.

Now to find something to cook the weirdly-shaped purple sweet potato with.