Sandboxes and Sweet Potatoes

Recently one of my friends and fellow bloggers over at Fort Birthday asked me for ideas that would get kids eating more fruits and vegetables. In these situations, I try to reflect on what I would have enjoyed as a child. I loved pretending to cook, experimenting, and getting dirty. I guess I haven’t changed much!

There are a few garden tasks that really make me feel like a kid again. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why having your own garden can be so much fun, and so good for your spirits too: it brings out your inner child!  

Nothing is closer to digging in a sandbox than digging for sweet potatoes. Where we live, October is the perfect time of year for this harvest and my children love getting in on the action. And guess what? Studies have shown that children eat more fruits and vegetables if they are homegrown. 

kids harvesting sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are quite easy to grow, even with very little space. In fact, we grew ours in grow bags like these. They are typically grown from "slips", which are sprouts grown from stored sweet potatoes. (Creating your own slips is another fun project to do with kids! Just grab a sweet potato from the grocery store, put it in a pot, and let it start sprouting.)

We begin with a grow bag that is about 1/3 full of soil. Slips that are about 10-12 inches long are planted 1/2 inch deep after the spring frost. Every week, we add more soil to our grow bags to bury the slip a little more until the bag is full. It takes at least 3 months for the plant to produce sweet potatoes big enough to eat. Sometimes they get really REALLY big. 

Now, how do we get kids to eat those sweet potatoes? We often just dice them, toss them with oil, salt, pepper, and roast them in the oven at 400 degrees until fork-tender. But we really recommend trying these delicious Vegan Sweet Potato Pancakes from our good friends over at My Wife Can Cook. Mouthwatering! 

sweet potato pancakes

Photo by Greg Radcliffe

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