Reed's Landrace Sweet Potatoes

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.


Below are some more videos I had posted on the old site. I’m learning to make videos and not especially skilled at it yet. They just go straight from the phone to YouTube so if I screwed up and said early September when it was supposed to be October, that’s the way it gets published. I hope to make more and better ones this season and delete and replace these as I get better at video making and editing.

I did not get my support I had hoped for that would have allowed me to do a massive grow out of my sweet potatoes this year so will be scaling it down to only about 150 total plants. There will be three semi-isolated groups, the elite culinary group (clones), the elite ornamental group (clones) and the newly sprouted group.


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

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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.

Yellow ones are my favorite, I have two of them in what I call my elite culinary collection. I like them just baked dry, no butter and certainly no brown sugar. Intense orange ones are very good too. White ones are usually not very sweet, but they are good fried with onions or in beef stew, the texture is very different from potatoes. A couple of white ones with purple star pattern inside were really good but roots were too small to make the cut for cloning. Solid purple ones have showed up a few times over the years, but I thought the flavor was awful and they were the only ones I’ve ever seen that had issues with bugs in the roots. I let them all go extinct.

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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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Interesting description, I find them to have a hint of petroleum after taste, very unpleasant. Not as bad as purple carrots, those things taste to me, like gasoline smells. I don’t even like purple beans even if they turn green when cooked. Not everyone here agrees with me on that, too bad for me I reckon as purple vegetables are supposed to be so good for you. Blue/red/purple in brassica is the exception, they are my favorite.

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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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I sent Joseph some seeds several years ago, and he managed to get a few seeds and even sent a few back to me. They didn’t sprout but just getting them in that climate was a pretty cool thing, I think.

I haven’t figured exactly how to do it yet, because I need to make a few bucks from it, but I intend to release seeds and or clones next spring, or perhaps this fall. I’ve had good reports on them from Texas, North Carolina, California and near Lake Michigan in NW Indiana.

I figured out the other day that over the last ten years I have conservatively spent 2,400 hours working with them. I’ve selected them for seediness, short season maturity and compact growth, among other things but they do not breed true. I doubt sweet potatoes will ever breed true; their genetics are just too weird.

Getting them to reliably make lots of seeds was really the biggest step, I think. They are at the point now where others could use them to get about a ten-year head start on adapting them to their own climate and tastes. And to cross them with any favorite variety they can coax to flower.

They sprout easy now; no need for sulfuric acid baths or kicking the seed coat. No need for grafting to induce flowers, just plant in warm soil and water! Folks in still shorter season areas may still need to start inside for transplanting but I just direct seed them now.


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:

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I’m kind of looking forward to sort of turning the sweet potatoes over to others and just continuing my own work on a smaller scale, largely for fun and of course to eat. Humm, what might I do with the extra time and space?

Well, I don’t think they produce much so far, but I know there are bananas that can survive winter here. :grin:

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!