Reed's Northern Adapted Sweet Potatoes by TSPS

I had posted a little about my sweet potatoes on the old site and haven’t gotten around to moving it over here yet but decided to just start a new one instead.

I’m still a little conflicted on when and why to use the landrace label, but something I have settled on in my own mind as an indicator, is the point where something, especially something that originates in a climate very different from mine, becomes possible for direct seeding and or if it starts to volunteer. My sweet potatoes arrived at that point a three or four years ago. I believe also that their ability to do so is transferable, certainly to climates with longer growing season but also as far north as Michigan, Minnesota and upstate New York.

I’ve been at this for ten years now and looking back at the massive amount of research I did back at the start, it’s amazing that I’ve gotten to this point. Nothing in all those scholarly articles and records from old breeding programs gave much hope, back then, that this could happen.

I think, but I don’t know that it was due to that first self-compatible plant for lack of a better word “unlocking” seed producing ability in those I crosse it with. That plant came from an old lady in Kentucky who kept it a greenhouse for an unknown number of years and sold cuttings from it each spring. I believe it may have been an old ornamental variety called “Blackie”, but plants sold by that name from other sources that I have seen, did not bloom as profusely or make very many seeds. I regret now that I did not keep a clone of it going over the years because she and it are now gone.

But! this past year when I planted a lot of seeds and a lot of older generation seeds, I found two plants that phenotypically are very similar to that plant. They are both semi-viny, as in they are not bushy growth but also do not have long vines. Like that original plant, neither makes roots. When I say they don’t make roots, I mean they do not make large storage roots (sweet potatoes), but of course they do have roots. They both have what I call ivy leaf shape. A purple one looks pretty much identical to that original plant but blooms even more. A green one blooms more that any I’ve ever seen and is self-compatible.

This isn’t the first time I have confirmed self-compatibility in a plant, but it is the first time I documented it.

I think that the purple one, Mr Bloom is also self-compatible but don’t have good proof of that yet. In any case I think they compensate for the loss of that original plant because they have abundant blooming and self-compatibility like it did, even more so than it did. But they also have in their ancestry plants that did make nice storage roots. I speculate that might mean that when crossed to some new variety it might take just two or three years to select for high percentage of nicely rooting plants instead of eight or ten.

I will probably clone Mr and Ms Bloom for some years to come and conduct some new experiments with them.


I am still working with the seeds you gave me a few years ago. I planted four this past week and two are already up, in cold temperatures, heavy clay loam, low light, without being chitted or pretreated in any way.

Both appear to have purple leaves


Very interesting Mark. We grow sweet potato in the green house but they don’t really make any roots worth eating. They do make a nice ground cover though and I don’t mind a leaf or two in a salad. They sometimes flower but I’ve never noticed a seed capsule.

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This is so interesting! I often feel discouraged by the widespread information about how things are done, like even just recieving seed packets that i am planning on experimenting with direct seeding and seeing the clear and obvious onstructions on how seeds must be started inside with heat many weeks before transplanting. So I am quite inspired by stories like this, and i expect that if and when i succeed in some of my planned projects, it will feel a bit surreal looking back. It makes it especially impressive to me that people like you, mark, and joseph have been doing this for so many years and with even less information on unconventional strategies. I am really grateful to you all for paving the way.

Also, i would love to grow sweet potatoes but have always known that its not possible in northern VT. If anyone ever has any seeds they would be willing to part with, i would be very interested. Even better, if someone had a project going on and would be open to having me grow out some seeds and try to contribute to the existing project, I would be eager to participate.


So sorry about this. Stinks! I wish I were a better fundraiser or knew more people because it seems like a really important project.


Definitely let me know in the future, i would love to participate in a great project like this

I love this sweet potato project and would be glad to support or participate in it in any way. I have about 30 seeds from last year that I’m going to plant out. I also got an abundant flowering sweet potato from the original seed mix. It is the parent of most of the seeds. A very bright yellow fleshed potato which got really sweet in storage.

I’ve been growing the stokes purple sweet potato which is pretty good for a purple sweet potato. It takes a long storage time to sweeten up enough, otherwise it is very starchy and meh. When they’re good I find they taste a bit floral. The ducks love them cooked and sometimes I dry them and make sweet potato flour. I can’t wait to see what comes up this year from seeds.

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If they don’t smell good to you, I would leave them alone. Taste and smell developed to warn us of something that might be dangerous, and since every body is different you might be sensitive to something in them.

I’m interested in this project as well. I love eating sweet potatoes. I’ve always been told they don’t grow in my area. But Joseph grows some and our climates are close. So I planted two varieties last year. Here are pictures of my yield. Hopefully I’ll learn how to increase it.

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No need for bottom heat or any special treatment. I do plant mine inside because I am still in the getting more seeds stage.

I’m definitely interested in buying some seeds from you when you’re ready to sell them. I’ve been watching this project with awe and excitement. I obsessively read your thread in the other forum with from start to finish in about three weeks last year.

Your thread awed and excited me for two reasons. First, it made me want to grow sweet potatoes from seed, too. Second, your success gave me courage and a great deal of hope. I had been wanting to do something exactly like that with bananas, and the parallels between sweet potatoes and bananas were striking. You made me think, “If he can do it, I can do it, too!”

Thank you. :smiley:


I would also be very eager to buy some seeds from you, please post here about how you will make them available. Will you make seeds from your other main projects available at the same time? I would be very very interested in your other projects as well.

Me, too! The broccolish project, for instance. Yummm. :grin:

I love your project! I’d be super excited to try growing sweet potato from seed in the future. Let me know if you ever sell seeds, I’ll be interested to buy some. Keep us posted on your progress!

Personally i would be very interested in sweet potato seeds, even at a higher cost. I wonder if you could do clone and seed packages, or clone and seed and expert advice packages, or even offer seed packages at whatever higher cost is worth it to you. Or maybe if you dont want to pick seeds if you dont sell it, then maybe you could do a preorder where someone like me could pay the high price for seed now, and then you could fulfill the order later that season as the plants are growing?

The more i think about it, something like this could be listed more as a “landrace starter kit” or something like that, especially when some clones, some seeds, and more in depth instructions are included. Especially if you are looking for ways to finance further projects, i think you would not be mistaken for comparison against 3 dollar packets of tomato seeds. I’ve seen wild mountain seeds list experimental varieties for 6 to 15 dollars for a seed packet, and just explain in the description that its experimental, limited edition, and in your case especially, very time intensive and a unique plant that is not easy to get seeds from and is not in a very good landrace spot as of yet.

Also Emily read my mind about the broccolish because that was exactly what other project i want to get my hands on!

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I in fact did buy the 15 dollar tomato seeds from Wild Mountain Seeds in Colorado. I got exactly 3 tomatoes one of which I didn’t find until it was over ripe. They were bred for flavor. I tried some outside and got one very late tomato. I tried a couple plants in my hoop house that produced one each.

Moral of the story, Yes, I would buy seed at a higher price even if I knew it was experimental :slight_smile:

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I like the clone and seed package idea. I’d also be okay with buying clones that are known to produce lots of seeds as well as taste good; clones that are tasty that can produce seeds seem almost as good as seeds. Seeds would be great, but if those are harder to harvest and would need to be way more expensive, clones sound fine. Especially if only 10% of those seeds are likely to grow really great sweet potatoes. It makes sense to want to ensure a person ordering from you will get at least one genotype they’ll like!

Question. Can you grow sweet potatoes up a trellis? If so, would that help decrease the amount of stooping to in order to harvest seed pods?

Whatever works for you Mark! It’s your project! Happy to get clones or/and seeds.

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