Sweet potato leaves – I love them – a tender green with subtle flavour and far less oxalic acid than spinach or chard. They grow so prolifically, if I didn’t eat them, they may well just take over!
|Sweet potato leaves with Cranberry Hibiscus, Society Garlic and Pepino|
Have you tried them?
- stir fries
- sauteed with garlic, ginger, chilli and coconut milk
- curries – added just at the end to avoid overcooking and losing nutrients
- soups – added just at the end too
- omelettes – folded in the middle at the end.
- vegetable eggy-bakes
- veggie patties
- salads (here I use only the young ones)
- green smoothies
Sweet potato greens are enjoyed in many areas of the world, particularly in Asia, Pacific and Africa, but elsewhere they are typically overlooked.
Sweet Potato Forage
They are good forage for animals too. The wild wallabies that visit my garden love them – they do a great trimming job along the terrace wall!
Did you know the sweet potato leaf is healthier than the root?
Sweet potatoes in my permaculture garden
- have a multiple crop – leaves, shoots and tubers
- are an excellent ground cover and living mulch
- provide habitat for garden helpers – frogs, lizards …
- suppress weeds with their thick growth and shading
- produce biomass for composting as well as chop and drop
- come back year after year without assistance
- provide an abundance of edible leafy greens except in mid-winter
Growing for tubers or leaf?
While it is a perennial plant in warm climates, if you want to harvest both the leafy greens and sweet potato tubers, it is better to treat it as an annual and dig up your tubers. Without replanting, you end up with lots of leaf and few tubers in the next season.
A white sap comes from the stem when you cut it. It can be irritating to the skin – I’ve got tough gardeners hands and it doesn’t seem to bother me, but just something to be aware of. I suggest you wash the leaves when you take them inside and before eating just to wash off the sap before adding to a salad or cooking.
I have been thinking i need ot trim back my sweet potatoes, thanks for the reminder.
Sounds a great idea to plant under dwarf citrus but I thought citrus with their shallow roots needed to be clear of any plants. I have a lemon with brazilian spinach, sheep sorrel and rosemary around it and the big grasshoppers attack the leaves of the lemon badly. The other two mandarin and lime have no undergrowth and no attack by grasshoppers. I remember reading that grasshoppers love sweet potato leaves. As you can tell I seem to be breeding a grasshopper paradise here. They love most of the perennial veges I grow except moringa and sweet leaf.
Sweet potatoes serve as ground cover in my fodder forest and at the points where they spill into areas where they are not wanted, I cut off the vines and take them to the pigs, who love them. Goats love them too, and I would be surprised if cattle and horses didn't also enjoy them.
We too eat mainly the leaves and shoots, me being far too lazy to dig out and replant, and I treat tubers as bonus surprises when I find them. The kids love a sweet potato hunt. Truly a multi-purpose and self-maintaining plant.
Always enjoy your posts and find inspiration in them 🙂
This is wonderful information as we are just starting out with cleaning up our few acres, and loosely planning where to plant items, so we will have a low maintenance permaculture garden in a few years. Citrus tree planting is a principal at the moment and I'm so glad that sweet potatoes will grow under these. Glad to know about eating the greens as we love the tubers.
Hi Morag, I love all of these posts on easy growing annuals and perennials. I have just bought an acre in the hinterland so I will be growing a few of these when the time comes! Thankyou!