I limit myself to trying to grow no more than one new vegetable per year. This guideline is in everyone’s best interests, especially the plants’. I have a hard enough time staying on top of the regular stuff, and catering to the unfamiliar needs of multiple new additions is sure to lead to casualties.
This year, the learning curve will revolve around sweet potatoes. They’re not a common crop for more northerly locales, but I have a few friends who have tried them in my area and they have taught me all their tricks, so I have high hopes.
I ordered my slips from Mapple Farm out of New Brunswick, one of the few Canadian sources for slips. (You can try to start your own slips from a supermarket tuber, but don’t count on it — cold storage has its downsides.) Seems like a long ways to ship the poor babies but they arrived well packed and only slightly droopy.
One of the challenges of growing sweet potatoes in Alberta is that they need heat and a long season, two things we don’t generally see. They aren’t heavy feeders, but they do like loose soil, and we’re sitting on serious clay. A friend warned me to be prepared to dig — hers were three feet under.
So… heat, loose soil, and some way to save my back. The gears started turning in my head, and this is what I came up with: an old garbage can, filled with compost and potting soil, in my sunny enclosed porch.
All three needs fulfilled? I may need to do some pollination, but otherwise I think my bases are covered. Cross your fingers for me.
And if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just have to revise my guideline: one new veggie or one new method a year, not both.