Ipomea Batatas

Kamote – Sweet potatoes, ama-imo

Sweet Potatoes must have been brought by the Spaniards in the Philippines some 600 years ago and we are enjoying this delectable root ever since.

According to my research, sweet potatoes are part of the morning glory family. (No wonder their flowers look just like the morning glory flower and have some nice colors too depending on the variety) They are also considered a storage root just like carrots and that sweet potatoes are different from yam because yam is a tuber just like the regular potato and belongs to a different plant family entirely.

Sweet potato plant can grow wild if you let it because any branches that touch the ground will form roots and can be transplanted as a new plant. The plants grows in a vine and has arrow-shaped leaves. Depending on the variety, leaves have different coloration like deep green, purplish or the new variety they call “marguerite” which is chartreuse in color. It is surprising to me that nowadays, home gardeners use the purple and chartreuse sweet potato as ornamental plants. We never consider the “kamote” plant as ornamental but we use the tender leaves as vegetable. We steam or boil them and make a salad by adding red onions and vinegar seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little bit of sugar. We also used the leaves as substitute for spinach in some soup recipes. Or you can just dip the boiled leaves in fish sauce and eat them with fresh cooked rice and that would be considered a meal all on its own.

Sweet potato can easily be planted from the cuttings of the bunch that you buy from the market or plant the root in the prepared garden bed with lots of amendments. It prefers sandy soil and because it is a warm weather plant, obviously it needs to be situated in the sunny part of your garden. In about 3 to 4 months the sweet potatoes are ready to be harvested. Make sure to dig them carefully to avoid bruising the roots. A spade fork is a good tool for digging up the roots. The freshly dig roots are so sweet eaten raw. I remember going around my grandma’s farm looking for left-over roots in the ground, I can tell if there is something under the ground if I see some new shoots of plants.

Sweet potatoes are powerhouse of nutrition. It provides protein and minerals like potassium, magnesium and calcium. It also has B-vitamin folic acid, vitamin C and most of all, about 2,000 I.U. of Vitamin A which is very good for healthy eyes. Also if you eat the potatoes with the skin, would provide additional fiber to your diet and that is good for you too.