Oct 23rd, 2012

Batata Boom Boom

Photos & text by Albert Brian Vick,  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator

Ipomea batatas that is – sweet potatoes. We started the Lewis Ginter Community Kitchen Garden sweet potato harvest on Saturday, 10/20, approximately 112 days after planting the initial “slips”. A nice team representing J-Town Richmond –- including Nerice Lochansky, Tanisha Henson, Adam Beifield and Rabbi Jesse Gallop –- began the harvest. J-Town Richmond is a community of Richmond’s Jews in their 20s and 30s focused on civic activities, worship & social programming. On Saturday the J-Town team was joined by HandsOn RVA volunteer Maria Carra Rose and Lewis Ginter volunteer John Jameson.
These sweet potatoes are 100 percent organic, two varieties (O’Henry & Beauregard) grown from slips donated by Slade Farms in Surry, Va., and fertilized only with fish emulsion and seaweed extract.

John Jameson (left) and Rabbi Jesse Gallop begin to pull back the dense vines.

The O’Henrys – a white/gold variety – were the best producers, averaging 4 or 5 storage roots per plant.

Unlike squash, you can’t easily walk around and try to limit any over-sized produce, because of the density of the prolific vines and the fact that most of the sweet potato is below ground.

Part of the Beauregard harvest.

The Batata Boom Gang: Rabbi Jesse, Carra, Tanisha, Nerice, John & Adam – on Saturday.

A note from the editor: I just got news from Brian Vick, Community Kitchen Garden Coordinator, that  Monday we delivered 390 lbs. of  sweet potatoes (208 lbs. of the O’Henry white/gold variety and 182 lbs. of Beauregard – orange flesh potatoes.  This delivery represents the entire sweet potato crop.

Year to date produce total: 10,345 lbs!  This is the first year we have exceeded our 10,000-pound production goal, and there are still more veggies to come!

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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