I feel fortunate to have a job that requires me to grow food as part of our testing program.

Last year I was asked to test a prototype of the Revolution Classic Vine Planter. Our product designer suggested we try growing sweet potatoes in it. I was skeptical and predicted we wouldn’t get much of a harvest, but the planter proved me wrong.

I started with Molokai Purple sweet potato slips from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and watched them grow all summer and into fall. The plants were easily trained onto the planter’s sturdy trellis and looked beautiful with their lush, dark-green foliage. An occasional purple leaf hinted at the colorful tubers hidden beneath the soil.

Thanks to the planter’s large soil capacity of 60 quarts and its 5-gallon self-watering reservoir, the roots never dried out and the plants flourished. Despite our short growing season in Vermont, the plants thrived in our Organic Potting Mix and Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer and produced a satisfying 12-pound harvest. I attribute the abundance to the benefits of growing in this container:

  • Plants got an early start due to warmer soil in the container vs. planting in the ground
  • No competition from weeds
  • Plants did not wilt thanks to the 5-gallon self-watering reservoir
  • The trellis kept the foliage off the soil. In addition to avoiding some diseases, this prevents stems and leaves from rooting, allowing the plants to focus their energy into growing bigger tubers.

Sweet potatoes — among the most nutritious of vegetables — are especially high in vitamin A, with a good amount of vitamin C and dietary fiber. The purple varieties are even higher in antioxidants than the orange-fleshed ones. They can also be easily stored for months over the winter. It’s especially satisfying to know that you can grow your own healthy, organic food, even if you don’t have a big space for a garden.

Deborah Miuccio

Deborah Miuccio coordinates the research and testing program at Gardener’s Supply.

The pleasure of gardening continues well beyond the harvest. Preparing a meal that includes food you grew yourself, then sharing it with others — that’s the magic of gardening, from seed all the way to your table.

Sweet potatoes are considered a “super food”, because of their high nutritional value. A harvest will store well for months.