i’m thankful for you (and for sweet potatoes)

DEAR A WAY TO GARDEN FRIENDS: This Thanksgiving, I wanted to be sure to express my gratitude to all of you for sharing your garden season with me.  If you were here, we could taste-test the heirloom sweet potatoes my friend and neighbor Tod grew and shared: ‘Frazier White’ (white flesh and skin); Purple (that’s all they’re called, he says; purple with purple flesh); ‘Carolina Ruby’ (red); and your basic orangey style. Tod got them all at one of my longtime sentimental favorite catalogs, Glenn and Linda Drowns’s Sand Hill Preservation Center in Calamus, Iowa—and Glenn has shared many things with me over the decades.

I met Glenn more years ago than I care to admit, when I wrote one of my first stories for “Martha Stewart Living,” even before I went to work for Martha fulltime. It was a story about heirloom squash and pumpkins, and to the delight and astonishment of the photographer and art director and food editor, I called in every manner of wacky-looking Cucurbita from collectors and growers around the country, to have their photos taken.

If you want to grow unusual sweet potatoes next year, be sure to reserve your “slips” the moment the 2013 catalog arrives; they’re always sold out fast. What? Not on the Sand Hill Preservation Center mailing list? You can correct that (and besides all the squash and sweets, you’ll be amazed at their collection of things like beans and corn and even heirloom poultry breeds). Tell Glenn that Margaret sent you.

More on the sweet potatoes after dinner, but for now, just this: Thanks!

Update: the view inside the sweets (can you believe!?!?!?!):

  1. Burndett Andres says:

    I’m thankful for YOU, Margaret, and for all the wonderful information and inspiration you spread around all year. BTW, I made the pumpkin custard yesterday. THAT was a mistake! I’ve already eaten two of the twelve cups I made. I ate one warm with vanilla ice cream on top and one cold…just testing, you know, so I can make recommendations to others today. ;-)

  2. Irena says:

    A million thanks to You for sharing your knowledge, expertise, pictures, humor, recipes, for your open garden days, for introducing us to other great gardeners, growers, writers, for your giveaways, and for all the other good things that come from ” A Way to Garden”. Thank you!

  3. Joshua Werber says:

    I am grateful for you, your majestic garden and inspiring blog. Words can never convey the impact you have had on my life. With much love, appreciation and respect,

  4. narf7 says:

    Thank you for your amazing down to earth entertaining advice and posts over the last few months. I only discovered you later in the year but am very happy that I get to read your informative awesome posts and share in your wonder and passion for your garden. We might not celebrate thanksgiving here in Australia but we do celebrate sweet potatoes and I am going to see if I can’t grow them here. Thank you again for all of your garden passion and these wonderful posts :)

  5. Linda L Smith says:

    Thank you and happy thanksgiving for all your earthly advise..may your gardens
    and life be bountiful as you have shared with all of us

  6. Erika Nauda says:

    Thank you for your wonderful blog and podcast. I grew sweet potatoes for the first time this year. I was really excited to grow them until I learned, after my harvest, about the curing process. Do you cure yours at 85-90 degrees? It seemed crazy (electricity-wise) to cure them at that temperature when I live in MA with cool fall temps. and had to heat a room just for them.

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Erika. I wrote about this and other storage topics in this article not long ago. I try to keep them extra-warm and humid for a week or thereabouts, then find somewhere 55ish after that. Best up North like us is just to grow enough for eating in the first month or two after harvest, I think; I have no precise place to make them happy much longer as you say!

      1. Mary Nisley says:

        I grow sweet potatoes in Poughkeepsie, not far from you. Properly cured SPs can be stored until the following April, and according to Perdue, if you don’t have the required high temperature and humidity, simply increase the time.

        I’ve been growing Purple, Frazier White, Korean Purple, Laceleaf (all from Sandhill Preservation Center) and Georgia Jets. Laceleaf and Frazier White have been consistently poor performers in both my garden and in the heirloom garden at Locust Grove and we are planning to replace them. What varieties have you settled on? I saw that you ordered Pumkin Yam and Violetta several years ago. How did they do?

        1. margaret says:

          I took a couple of years off sweet potatoes, Mary, in favor of winter squash — which my local population of animals are less likely to pester. The foliage of the sweets was woodchuck bait, and mice and voles loved the tubers. So I don’t have updated thoughts on varieties to share first hand.

  7. Claudia says:

    Margaret, I am grateful for you and your wonderful blog/website. I am also grateful for all the people who add comments, suggestions, etc. Thank you.

    I love the picture of the cooked yams. So colorful, and delicious looking. Hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful.

  8. Beth Robinson says:

    Margaret: Just wanted to wish you a belated (sorry!) Thanksgiving. I hope that you enjoyed your day at home, not having to do the “holiday” thing. I did wonder if you would venture out from the Promised Land. It’s the house cleaning that goes before that ALWAYS makes me crazy. No matter how small the gathering, this particular dinner is work. I also wonder if you read Mother Earth. Between you and their articles, I think a happy sustainable life may well be possible. So looking forward to the new book. The first one really spoke to me, and I have no doubt that Garden Parables will as well. Blessings to you at this special time of year … PS Do you follow the Beekman Boys?

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