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New Year, New Green : Sweet Potato Leaves
January 7, 2012

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and a good start to 2012. January is always a good time start new things. As my first vegetable garden project of 2012, I decided to grow a new green: sweet potato leaves.

Potato leaves became one of the staple vegetables in my kitchen since I moved to Majuro although my experience with potato leaves is not new. Potato leaves are one of the major greens in West Africa and I had them countless times in Liberia (where they were called potato greens). Liberians cook them with meat or fish until the leaves become creamy in texture. I wrote about potato greens and how to prepare Liberian potato greens back in 2009.

Here in Majuro, the source for sweet potato leaves is a Taiwanese farm in Laura where they are promoting this delicious yet nutritious green (potato leaves are rich in vitamin C, K and A). In November, Taiwan opened their farm to the public and highlighted the new vegetables to the local Marshallese. The farm allowed me to pick a bag full of greens to take with me and I simply stir fried them with a garlic, pinch of red pepper, salt, and drizzle of good soy sauce that night. The leaves are so tender and the stem is crunchy. I was hooked.

sweet potato leaves field

Sweet potato leaves

Unfortunately, the farm is very far from where I live and they are not available regularly at the store. So I decided to grow my own. Luckily, the farm worker told me that growing potato leaves is very easy and it grows endlessly.

I researched the methods and I found the DIY Network has a very detailed explanation on how to grow sweet potatoes with step by step photos and I decided to follow their instructions.

First thing is first. You need to find some sweet potatoes. It looks like the considerable differences in taste in greens depends on what kind of sweet potato you use. At the store here, there were only two kinds of sweet potatoes available. The regular kind with red skin and yellow inside, and another one with white skin and interior. Hopefully, one of these two will produce the tender greens that I am looking for.

The next thing you need to do is make slips. The slips are small rooted pieces of tuber.

1) Cut each potato into half and place each half in a glass or container filled with water. Half of the potato needs to be submerged in the water and other half needs to be above the water. You can use toothpicks to hold the potato. Place them in a warm area to help the potato create slips.

making slipsmaking sweet potato slips

Now I will wait for a few weeks until the roots and sprouts show up.

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