Student harvests 20-pound sweet potato
Health communications senior Kendra Williams is used to growing things in her garden, but she’s never seen a sweet potato push 20 pounds before.
That is, until Oct. 23, when she pulled a gigantic tuber from the ground beneath her aloe vera plant. The potato survived an extra year thanks to the quality of her soil.
“This was luck,” Williams said. “I think it happened because I forgot to harvest this tuber last year, and it kept growing,” Williams said.
Coincidentally, the sweet potato was growing directly underneath the aloe vera plant, which is most likely the reason it stayed healthy and alive throughout the year.
Typically if a tuber is left unattended for too long, it will rot, Williams said.
Williams uses planter boxes to keep her annual plants separated from her perennial plants, a border which must be strictly maintained for the different species to survive.
Annual plants perform their whole life cycle from seed to flower back to seed within a single a growing season, while perennials are plants that persist through many growing seasons.
Usually this means the plant will die during the winter and regrow during the spring with the same roots.
When Williams initially started gardening it was as a hobby so she could have fresh vegetables and seasonings to cook with.
“I started gardening about 3-4 years ago, and I have grown ginger, basil, rosemary, sweet potatoes, flowers, aloe vera, and peppers.” said Williams.
She occasionally volunteers with Recipe of Success, a Houston non-profit focused on combating child obesity by teaching them appreciation for food, and learns a lot from their Hope Farms program, which trains urban micro-farmers.
“I like gardening to get away from crowds, because I’m always working or in class or running around somewhere.” said Williams.