Apr 6, 2020, 1:07:20 AM4/6/20
There are different types of “starchy tubers”. The food based sweet potatoes that grow in the ground and we eat in the United States and also some livestock are botanically called Ipomoea batatas of the Convolvulaceae family. And then there are ornamental vines also botanically the same however they are different cultivars that do more foliage production than making sweet potatoes. However, they can do so and they are edible though I have heard not tasty. They just aren’t bred to be eating taters. —in the ornamentals - there is a bright green and a dark purple one and some variegated
Note while we call our sweet potatoes yams, yams are an entirely different family. And there are other similar foods they may be confused but come from different plant families and may or may not be toxic. The general rule is to always know what you are eating and if the entire plant is edible — many are not. And on the same lines — check with your vet for pets and livestock and make sure your questions are through and their answers are through.
I think all said — the leaves should not be eaten by anyone or any pet nor allowed to hang where aquatic animals might be tempted (hungry enough to eat), nor thrown into livestock pens. The confusion comes because people say — can my dog, cat, livestock, etc eat sweet potatoes and the answer is yes maybe only in small amounts and only cooked however that doesn’t apply to the leaves. People have lost their common sense. Same for hundreds, thousands of plants, the fruit or vegetable is okay but not the seed or leaves. For example, peaches, plums, cherries, etc are great tasting but the pits and seeds contain cyanide and should not be consumed and can cause death. And some animals are more sensitive than us or other types of animals, even the same types — we have all know people who feed grapes, chocolate and pork to their pets but we also know many others who become serious ill with gastrointestinal, kidney, brain, liver and other issues and may die. I watched for years my dog stealing ripe grapes off the bottom of the vines she loved them so much. Never seemed to bother her - no runs or constipation, nothing to let us know there might be an issue. And then one day before we knew Grapes were a problem — she became very ill and had to be rushed to the vet - she basically had grape poisoning And almost died. Same thing a neighbor had always fed their dogs grilled pork(never any bones) - in 40 years of all kinds of dogs — and one day, one was very sensitive and almost bled to death. It’s like people with allergies, you never know when it might strike so it is better to avoid those items the vets know cause more problems than not. I dearly love shrimp, never had a problem that I know of but I tested highly allergic and the doctor said it’s not if, it’s when so I don’t eat shrimp anymore. And besides unless you live at the ocean and can get fresh wild caught — why would you want the vile stuff from overseas that has to be doused in chemicals to kill bacteria so it can survive its trip from Asia or wherever to here. Fish and many meat and dairy products should never be transported thousands of mile from country to country. It’s bad enough from one side of the country to the other. We have to start eating fresh and local to your area or at the least foods flash frozen or canned at their destination when perfectly ripe and straight into freezers and flown to another city. We have ruined fresh vegetables picking them unripe so they can cross the country from CA to east coast or FL to MI etc. I have gotten where if I can’t get it at home in season then I don’t eat it — it’s how we did for 100s of years across the world up until the last 50 or less years. Many young people have no clue what really vine ripened fruit and vegetables taste like. They go around eating hard peaches, frigeratored tomatoes or peaches that when taken out won’t ripen properly and go mealy. They don’t know pears are picked rock hard green and need to sit in a bowl on the counter until they are yellow, juicy and sweet. Peaches never in frigerator go in paper bags until soft, juicy and sweet but should never turn brown and mealy. Berries should be bright colored, sweet and aromatic. Grapes you should be able to smell them, even tomatoes have a lovely sweet/acidic ripe smell and taste when fully ripe. Today they are hard, have huge white cores and are put in the frigs to hold longer but as soon as you get them home — everything goes bad. And many are gassed or the air artificially changed to keep them as long as they can. Corn is best cooked by boiling a big kettle of water with salt and then going to the garden, pick, shuck and drop in the kettle of already boiling water. No more than 10 minutes from picked to kettle and on the table in 5. Butter it and It will be beyond your wildest taste buds in sweetness. Canned is different - I’m talking fresh veg and fruit, meat/protein sources, and dairy. To be it’s best, if it travels more than a couple hundred miles you aren’t getting the best and freshest and it’s picked too early in order to travel. I feel sorry for young people — really many of those under 40 as they have never really known true garden or tree ripened produce. And every year they get further and further away from it. Please do yourself a favor, get yourself good reputable garden books, talk to your grand and great grandparents and learn to garden. Skip all the chats and forums of people who don’t know more than you do. Find someone at least 65 who has hardened for 50 years and let them help you learn to prepare your soil. Stay away from all this bark and limbs etc. and also stay away from compost that uses these along with recycled furniture, pallets, etc or cardboard with toxic adhesives and sprayed with pesticides to keep the roaches and mice down and don’t use commercial composts thst use human sewer waste who may have diseases that heat can’t kill or is full of medications flushed down the toilet or cleaning chemicals down the sewer lines. No amount of heat will rid the compost of that - heat may kill bacteria but it doesn’t get rid of chemicals. Heck they can’t even get all those out of our drinking water with the billions/trillions of dollars in equipment and filtration. Learn to improve the ground you have with improving the soil with cover /green cropping, adding properly composted household raw vegetables etc but no grease, no cooked food and no dairy or meat. It’s not that those can’t be composted but you have to keep the compost very hot 140-160F constantly for several weeks and constantly turned to make sure all bacteria is killed throughout the bed. You can’t do it on a home basis and compost tumblers etc won’t do it either and you’d kill your worms if you try that. Add alfalfa over the winter, cover all bare ground with clover. Grow and turn in gobs of biomass (green crops). Let it breakdown and the worms to work it. Step away from all this nonsense of not improving your ground 12-18” down at least once and then stay in the top 12”l. Plants roots have to have soil they can get through. Compost full of wood and peat moss, coco coir etc will never give you tasty veggies — but good mineral rich native dirt will. Minerals are what make veggies, fruit etc strong, healthy, aromatic and tasty. Cover crops either tilled or forked over into native dirt to build healthy topsoil is needed— legumes like beans, peas, clovers, alfalfa, things like buckwheat, wheats, cereal grains like oats planted grow up to top biomass maturity and then forked or tilled over, let sit and start again for a year maybe two constantly adding rabbit, goat, sheep manure and well composted poultry, possibly cow if you knkw the hay they have been fed doesn’t have any residual herbicides and the herd is healthy can be used but must be
White potatoes are a different family altogether. They are botanically Solanum tuberosum, in the family Solanaceae. There are like 5000 varieties of potatoes. Now potatoes produce a fruit up on the green plant (not underground where the taters are) that’s like a little green cherry tomato but smaller - it contains hundreds of seeds and is highly toxic — you never want to let pets, animals or children eat those little green seed fruits. And ...along the same toxin —never eat potatoes that have a greenish tinge not even if peeled - throw it away in the garbage. Do not compost. This happens when they are exposed to too much light either in the garden or in the grocery store.
The potato blight and the Colorado potato beetle both pest and diesel that can wipe out complete crops. Remember the horrible Irish potato famine where million + died and in other million had to leave Ireland many cane to America because they were starving and poverty was so bad. At the time potatoes were the almost sole crop, there was a lot behind it also politically where they couldn’t get grains and other seeds like corn, wheat, beans etc. You can look it up in history. If you garden, blight is a serious disease for tomatoes and potatoes (early blight, late blight). A common source of future infection, is leaving old vines and debris including the potatoes themselves in the ground or compost piles. Always burn or send the debris to the dump. And one way to help is to never plant these crops in the same place each year or together. Rotate out — ag least a 5 year and preferably a 10 year rotation plan where nothing is replanted in the same place (other than perennially veggies like asparagus) or fruits (berries, fruit trees). And look for blight resistant types. Also if you still smoke, don’t handle any tobacco product (cigs, cigars, pipe) and then the plants as you will transfer tobacco mosaic virus to them. Wash you hands well with a viruscide type product like a QAC (Physan20). Dry your hands, put gloves on and dip them in the proper solution to dip dry or 91% alcohol and let drip dry. It’s better than it use to be due to less people smoking, resistant plant varieties being bred, etc but it’s still out there.