Mary's Veggie Garden

March 24, 2014

March 24: Invincible Snowdrops!

Filed under: Sweet Potatoes,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 10:15 am

I’ve long known that snowdrops bloom early: they are first to bloom in my yard. But I was surprised to see this plant that pushed through the icy snow bank. This is a ‘Giant Snowdrop’, Galanthus elwesii.

Giant Snowdrop

Giant Snowdrop, Galanthus elwesii

These snowdrops are in a tiny garden between the driveway pavement, the steps, and the patio. The picture shows the remains of the 4′ deep snow bank that’s covered the area since early February.

The snowdrop garden.

The snowdrop garden. It’s difficult to see the snowdrops against the ice.

In the vegetable garden, most of the fall planted spinach survived but the kale looks doubtful. Some of the spinach was direct sown Tyee, the rest was purchased transplants; both look OK. Neither the kale nor the spinach received any protection from the weather except the 30″ of snow that covered them for the coldest 6 weeks of Feb. and March.

3/24  fall planted Tyee spinach. It's so nice to see a bit of new green.

3/24 fall planted Tyee spinach. It’s so nice to see a bit of fresh green.

Gardening proceeds indoors. The onion, lettuce, and celeriac starts are in the basement, under lights. I rooted up the first batch of sweet potatoes in water, then potted them up.

It is interesting to see the differences between varieties when rooting mother sweet potatoes. I placed all of these in water the same day  (around 3/10) and photographed them on 3/21. Most sweet potatoes root from the bottom tip as shown by these Lace Leaf and Purple spuds.

Laceleaf sweet potatoes.

Laceleaf sweet potatoes.

Purple Sweet Potato

Purple sweet potatoes. I should have potted these when the roots were only 1/2″ long.

Georgia Jets are the slowest of my varieties to root. They usually root at the tip but will sometimes produce roots higher up. Yes, the two on the right do have roots but they are barely visible.

Georgia Jets sweet potatoes are barely showing roots.

Georgia Jets sweet potatoes are barely showing roots.

Frazier Whites produce roots all over.  For the last two years I’ve only seen roots at the very top, so this year I was surprised to see a Frazier White root at the bottom.

Frazier White sweet potatoes

Frazier White sweet potatoes

Here they are, all potted up.  See those tiny slips at the tops? In a few weeks I’ll be removing the slips for rooting.

Sweet potatoes potted up for slip production

Sweet potatoes potted up for slip production

This is a lot of sweet potatoes, because I’m growing slips for the garden at Locust Grove. I expect each potted potato to produce  6 or more slips. Actually the mother potatoes just keep on producing slips, the problem is getting about 20 of each variety by planting time the last week of May.

I finished my garden plans this week and was happy to discover the peas go into an area that is already snow free. However we are still in the ice box: the temperature as I took the snowdrop and spinach pictures was only 21°F (-6°C).


  1. Great post about rooting sweet potatoes! I’m just about ready to start mine. I don’t need to make that many, so I try not to start too early. I moved them to a warm spot and they are already showing some green growth.

    Comment by Dave — March 24, 2014 @ 5:39 pm | Reply

    • It is a fine balance between starting too early and getting enough. (I need about 25 of each variety.) I start more mother SPs rather than starting earlier, because slips don’t do well if kept in pots long term: the resulting sweet potatoes tend to be twisted. However, the mother SPs seem to want to root about now. Baby slips have extended a bit and gotten greener, even without any water. I removed and discarded a couple slips from each SP, figuring that the slips will be better when grown on a rooted SP.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — March 25, 2014 @ 8:17 am | Reply

  2. I find them so different when they root. The Purples send out tons of roots very fast. They love to break dormancy even if it is a bit chilly still in my house. While the Garnets take forever. I have to start them in January. And one still doesn’t have any roots growing. Sometimes I get slips from them before they root.

    Comment by daphnegould — March 25, 2014 @ 10:14 am | Reply

    • Ah, another data point. I just started my Korean Purples and they are also fast. I’ve never understood the comment in the Sandhill Preservation catalog about them being ‘slow to sprout’ because mine are so fast.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — March 25, 2014 @ 10:51 am | Reply

  3. The sweet potato must now be really settled in your garden now as the weather has been warming up.
    Hope you have a great sweet potato harvest this year.

    Comment by Diana KKMG — May 16, 2014 @ 10:06 am | Reply

    • No, we’ve only had a few really warm days and the temperature is supposed to hit 43°F (7°C) tomorrow night. I have black plastic on the bed, warming the soil but summer is taking it’s time to arrive. Planting time is very late May around here. Thus I grow varieties that mature quickly.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 16, 2014 @ 5:01 pm | Reply

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