At what distance, inter and intra rows, should the American potato sprouts be placed in the ground?
Thanks so much!
Dear Alice, thank you for writing in the questions and answers section of our website and for proposing to us your doubts regarding the American potato. The American potato (Ipomotea batatas) is a type of potato that comes from Central America where it has always been cultivated for the extraordinary starch richness of the tubers and for its typical sweet taste. Very often the American potato is also grown as a houseplant due to its decorative beauty and the ease with which this plant emits roots when grown in a liquid water-based substrate. The place of cultivation of these potatoes must be very bright and sunny and the temperatures must be above 13-15 ° C. As for watering, it is advisable to give the plants water regularly throughout the cultivation period, without ever leaving the soil dry for more than 2 or 3 days. In the period of full vegetative activity, from March to October, we recommend giving fertilizer for flowering plants every 15-20 days in very light doses (about half of what is indicated on the package). The ideal soil for the American potato is a soft and light substrate, well drained and not excessively rich in organic matter.
For intra and inter row cultivation distances, we recommend placing the American potatoes at a distance of 30 cm along the row and at 50 cm between the rows. The distances between plants in cultivation are usually chosen based on two criteria: type of plant and means of harvest. Depending on the area of cultivation and the methods of harvesting, the distance may change: if I have a home garden, harvesting and cultivation are manual, so I only need little space to move between the plants. In extended and mechanized crops the distances between the rows are obviously wider to allow the large machinery to pass and work without problems.
We start from the fundamental assumption that the American potato is not grown like homegrown potatoes.
In Italy it is not possible to grow the American potato starting from the seed for reasons related to climate with our temperatures, in fact, it is unlikely to produce flowers.
In the cultivation of homegrown potatoes, we are used to starting from the tuber but also this technique is not recommended for the cultivation of the American potato because the tubers themselves would rot.
Therefore, those who want to grow the American potato in Italy will have to starting from special herbaceous cuttings that can easily self-produce: they will be enough for you two American potatoes to produce cuttings in sufficient quantities to cultivate 10 square meters of vegetable garden.
Between October is November, buy American potato tubers exclusively from organic farming and store them in environments where the temperature never drops below 15 ° C (at low temperatures the tubers rot).
From the first days of March it is possible to start prepare the herbaceous cuttings. To do this, place each tuber in a pot (diameter 15-15 cm) previously filled with soft and rich soil for sowing, leaving about a third of the tuber out of the ground.
The pots should be placed in a very bright environment and where the temperature never drops below 12-15 ° C, even at night. Those who grow American potatoes indoors could place the two pots between the space of a double window, perhaps near a stove. In this case, care must be taken to always keep the soil moist.
When they pop up shoots of 15 cm, gradually bring the pots outdoors in order to make them adapt to the outside temperatures. It suits you grow sweet potato American in the open field only when the outside temperatures do not drop below 12 ° C at night, while during the day the temperature should be at least 21 ° C.
In short, those who live in the North will have to wait until mid-May to grow American potatoes while those who live in the South will be able to anticipate based on the spring weather.
When the shoots have reached at least 15 cm and with 5-6 leaves, if the temperatures allow, you will have to detach them from the tubers and plant them in the soil that you have previously worked (with a spade of 25-30 cm). The planting of the shoots will be done at a distance of 70-80 cm between the rows and 40-50 cm on the same row.
For the collection, we will have to wait September / October of the following year. If the soil has already been cultivated, it will not need to be fertilized again. Follow the cultivation with very moderate irrigations. Irrigate at the time of planting and pay more attention to irrigation in the first two weeks after planting.
Then it will be enough to irrigate only in long periods of drought.
Like many other ingredients now commonly used in our kitchen, even the potatoes desserts or potatoes American, in fact, they see theirs origin in New Continent, particularly in South America.
It is said that it was brought to Europe precisely from Christopher Colombo which he gave to the Queen of Spain Isabella of Castile. From then on it spread to the old Continent as convolvuloindiano or potato of Spain, while in Italy it opens that it was Ferdinand II, Grand Duke of Tuscany, to want to cultivate the potato American, also called batata, in Boboli's Garden to Florence.
Despite the spread and the cultivation, albeit in gardens private, the sweet potatoes or American potatoes they were not immediately considered nutritious foods and above all suitable for humans, indeed they remained for a long time among those specialties found exclusively in botanical gardens. Only in the early years of 1800 began to introduce itself in human and animal nutrition.
Put all the ingredients you need to prepare this tasty side dish on the workbench: onions, potatoes, oil, salt and aromatic herb leaves.
First peel the onions and remove the two ends, then the harder or damaged outer leaves.
Rinse the whole onions under running water, then dry them well with a clean cloth or absorbent paper.
Take the cutting board. Arrange the onions and cut them in half first, then cut into thin slices.
Take a non-stick pan, pour in the extra virgin olive oil and put it on a low flame.
Add the onion slices.
Stir and let them dry.
Meanwhile, wash the potatoes and dry them.
Peel the potatoes, then cut them into wedges or chunks about 1.5 cm thick.
Put the potato chunks in a bowl covered with cold water for 10 minutes.
Drain them and then pat them with absorbent paper to remove excess starch and water.
Add the potatoes to the onions.
Stir them and then cook them without the lid for about 15-20 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, making sure that the potatoes do not fall apart.
Add the rosemary or the mix of aromatic herbs of your choice and continue cooking, always stirring, but without undoing the potatoes.
Shortly before the end of cooking, add salt and a pinch of pepper (optional).
As soon as the potatoes are soft and the onions transparent, turn off the heat.
Transfer the potatoes to a serving dish and serve them on the table as a side dish to fried chicken, bole or pork.
For the realization of the recipe you can use red Tropea onions with a sweet flavor, but also white or golden ones.
Before putting them to cook, once sliced, you can soak them for a few minutes in salted water.
To prepare your potatoes and onions, sauté the yellow-fleshed potatoes as they are firm and not very floury and do not fall apart during cooking.
If you prefer cooking in the oven, you can also opt for this mode following the same procedure and cooking everything together, potatoes and onions, in a preheated oven at 180 ° for about 35 minutes, mixing them from time to time, always a delicate way to avoid to flake them off. When cooked, add salt and flavor. Remove from the oven and serve hot.
You can store leftover potatoes and onions for a maximum of 2 days in the fridge, inside a container with an airtight lid, or you can prepare a tasty potato omelette.
There are several varieties of onions with different organoleptic characteristics: red, golden or copper, white, shallot and spring onion.
Red onion is the sweetest and most delicate variety because it is rich in sugar, perfect for preparing summer salads and for filling sandwiches. It is also very tasty cooked in a pan but, to better appreciate its flavor, you can also enjoy it raw.
The golden onion has a more pungent flavor and is the most used in the kitchen to prepare any type of sauté or to enrich the taste of even the least appetizing preparations.
White onion has a more pungent flavor and a crisper texture. It is perfect raw in mixed salads, grilled or baked and appreciated for the preparation of sautées.
Shallots and spring onions, on the other hand, are two varieties of onions with a less intense flavor, perfect for the preparation of numerous first and second courses.
There are also many varieties of potatoes and they are all used for the preparation of specific recipes.
It is a variety with very light and particularly floury pulp not suitable for use in the preparation of side dishes but perfect for the dough of gnocchi, desserts, purées or for savory pies and flans.
It is a potato with a more intense color than the white-fleshed one. The more intense color and very similar to that of Jerusalem artichoke is due to the presence of a greater quantity of ß-carotenes. The very compact pulp makes it suitable for use in both fried and baked recipes. Furthermore, if we want to boil them, they are the best choice because they retain moisture very well.
It has a red skin, a very compact yellow pulp, particularly rich in nutrients and is used with all the roasted or fried skin, as is the tradition of the countries of Northern Europe.
A sweet-tasting potato less starchy but richer in potassium, vitamin A and vitamin C than other varieties. It is a variety not belonging to the Solanaceae family also recommended in diets even in slimming diets, since it has a much lower sugar content than that of the classic potato.
The hazel is a plant belonging to the Betulaceae family. Generally it takes the measures of a shrub, but some species
Place birdhouses in your garden, to allow them to protect themselves during the winter season and
Ipomoea batatas it is a perennial herbaceous plant that has lobed or palmate leaves with alternate phyllotaxis.
The flowers are medium-sized gamopetals, hermaphroditic, actinomorphic, with calyx and corolla generally pentamers. The stamens are inserted at the base of the corolla. The ovary is over. The fruit is a capsule.
The edible part is the tuberized root. The color of the skin of the rhizotubero varies from red to purple, from brown to white depending on the variety as well as the pulp which varies from white to yellow, orange or purple.
The species is native to tropical areas of Mexico. In Central America, cultivation was already practiced at least 5000 years ago . It spread rapidly throughout the region, including the Caribbean. Imported after the colonization of the Americas, it spread to Europe and also to Asia, where its presence in China was documented as early as the late 16th century. Sweet potatoes were also known in Polynesia before exploration from the west.
Sweet potatoes were introduced during the Ryūkyū Kingdom, in Japan, in the early 1600s by the Portuguese  .
Sweet potatoes became a staple in Japan because they were important in preventing famine when rice crops were scarce . Sweet potatoes were also planted in Shōgun Tokugawa Yoshimune's private garden .
It was also introduced in Korea in 1764. The sweet potato arrived in Europe with the Colombian exchange.
How exactly the species reached Oceania is the subject of a lively debate involving archaeological, linguistic and genetic observations. 
A study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington, Seattle (USA) and published in the prestigious journal PNAS  found that all cultivated sweet potatoes contain DNA of bacterial origin (a T-DNA sequence of Agrobacterium) with some genes actively expressed by the plant.
The transgenes have been observed both in wild relatives closely related to the sweet potato, and in wild species phylogenetically more distant from each other. Studies have indicated that the sweet potato genome has evolved over the millennia, and that the domestication of the crop has benefited from natural genetic modifications . Indeed bacteria of the genus Agrobacterium they are plant pathogens that have the ability to translocate fragments of their DNA within the DNA of plants, "forcing" them to produce proteins useful for the bacterium itself. This natural mechanism is very similar to that used by biotechnologists to insert genes useful for agriculture into the DNA of plants, thus producing transgenic organisms.
And it is a natural event that has generated this horizontal genetic transfer, sweet potatoes are the first known example of natural transgenic food culture .
The sweet potato, a naturally transgenic plant, has been eaten by man for at least 8000 years and is one of the most consumed foods in the world (FAO data). 
In 2017, global sweet potato production was 113 million tons, led by China with 64% of the world total (table). The secondary producers were Malawi and Nigeria.
In Italy it has been cultivated since the mid-1800s in the traditional territory of Anguillara Veneta (Padua).
|Sweet potato production - 2018|
|country||Production (million tons)|
|Source: FAOSTAT |
In Italy, the American potato is recognized as a traditional agri-food product and included in the special list published in the Official Gazette by the regions:
More than 95% of the cultivation of Ipomoea batatas it is produced in developing countries, where it represents the fifth staple food . The rhizotubers of the plant are usually used and cooked boiled, fried or baked. They are also industrially used for the extraction of starch, alcohol and for the production of flour. The leaves and young shoots are also edible.
Other non-culinary uses include:
In some Southeast Asian countries, roasted sweet potatoes are popular street foods eaten during the fall and winter seasons.  In China and Korea, the tubers are cooked in special metal cylinders,    while in Japan the ishi yaki-imo, sweet potatoes cooked on hot stones. 
When to harvest potatoes? Some potatoes are ready later 3-4 months, for others you have to wait 5 months. When buying seed potatoes, take into account the variety and mark on the calendar when they should be ready. The harvest day should not be too humid and the soil should be dry.
If the plant turns yellow the tubers should be ready. However, we recommend extracting a plant from the ground and checking its degree of ripeness. Self rubbing the peel this does not come off then the potato is ready.