Botanical Names: Ipomoea batatas
There are over 400 different types of sweet potatoes around the world and all are not created equal. Like apples, it all depends on personal taste, which you like best. One of the many benefits of growing your own food is that you are able to try different varieties that you cannot obtain from the grocery store or farmer’s market. Then you are able to share your produce and new finds with family and friends.
However, it is important to keep certain factors in mind when making a decision about which variety of sweet potato you are going to grow in your garden this year. Do you have limited space? Or are you only able to grow in a container? Then selecting the right variety is important. Are you located in the north? Most sweet potatoes are grown in the southern half of the United States and other warmer climates, but there is a variety was bred just for northern growers. Sweet potatoes prefer hot climates with long days and warm daytime as well as night time temperatures. When growing sweets, the right growing conditions are necessary to have a successful yield of tubers.Here are some of the top growing varieties of sweet potatoes:
For unique colors:
Stokes Purple Sweet Potato – This variety has gorgeous, rich purple skin and flesh that maintains its color even when cooked. Great in recipes, from pies, fries, or chips, that call for orange sweet potatoes.The color is pure pleasure for children and adults when seen on plates.
‘New Jewell’ – This is an improved ‘Centennial’ and winner of blue ribbons for color, taste and yield. The outside skin is a rosy red with a deep orange interior. It is a quick baker resulting in a soft, pleasant texture when consumed. Another cultivar to consider is ‘Red Jewel’ an old-fashion favorite and an eye catcher in the garden with a deep red outside and orange inside.
‘Oriental’ – Also referred to as the Japanese Sweet Potato, it has a beautiful pink to purple skinand is white on the interior. Its flavor is delicious and sweet; some think it resembles the taste of a chestnut. Grill, steam or bake, it is attractive in any presentation. It is a wonderful variety to start with.
For those with limited space:
‘Bunch Porto Ricos’ – Also referred to as ‘Bush’ or ‘Vineless’ this is a favorite for gardeners with limited space. Its skin is copper colored with a light, reddish flesh. An excellent baking potato with a delicious, old-fashion taste. Baby potatoes will mature in 100 days with full bakers yielding at 110.
For the northern gardener:
‘Georgia Jet’ – Ideal for northern gardens as it has the fastest growth and extra-high yields of any sweet potato. This cultivar’s testing in northern states such as New York and New England resulted in yields that were 2.5 times that of the standard varieties. The skin is so red it almost looks purple and the flesh is a deep orange with a marvelous taste.
This is only a short list of what is available. Remember there are over 400 different varieties. Many online sources have mixed offerings as well, so that gardeners are able to try 3 to 5 different varieties to see which works best in their growing conditions and climates. Have funwith them and try a new variety every year.