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					    Granny’s Garden School, Inc.
                 Teaching in the Gardens
  SchoolGarden@fuse.net       20 Miamiview Lane, Loveland, OH 45140         513-324-2873
                               www.GrannysGardenSchool.com

                                 Starting Sweet Potatoes
                                        Grade One

Suggestions for using this lesson in the garden cycle:
This is a first grade lesson taught in mid-March or early April to prepare sweet potatoes
for planting later in spring.

Ohio Standards Connections:
Science - Life:
 Characteristics and Structures of Life A1: Explore that organisms, including people,
  have basic needs which include air, water, food, living space, and shelter.
 Characteristics and Structures of Life B2: Explain that food comes from sources other
  than grocery stores.
 Characteristics and Structures of Life B5: Recognize that seasonal changes can
  influence the health, survival, or activities of organisms.

Science – Scientific Inquiry:
 Doing Scientific Inquiry A1: Ask “what happens when” questions.
 Doing Scientific Inquiry C5: Create individual conclusions about group findings.
 Doing Scientific Inquiry C8: Use oral, written, and pictorial representation to
  communicate work.
 Doing Scientific Inquiry C9: Describe things as accurately as possible and compare
  with the observations of others.

Science – Scientific Ways of Knowing:
 Nature of Science A2: Demonstrate good explanations based on evidence from
  investigations and observations.

Lesson Summary:
Students will understand that a sweet potato is not a true potato, learn some historical
and present day facts about sweet potatoes, and study the germination of sweet
potatoes in two different mediums.

Estimated Duration:
30 minutes

Materials:
1 sweet potato to start in water, plus a see-through plastic cup and four heavy duty
toothpicks
6 sweet potatoes to start in soil, plus 6 containers filled with soil
2 sweet potatoes to microwave for sampling
A knife and cutting board to cut up sweet potatoes for sampling
Toothpicks to serve sweet potato samples
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Permanent markers to mark containers (optional: masking tape or label to attached to
container)
A true potato for observation
Pictures of sweet potatoes from lesson if desired
Worksheet for each group
At least one water-soluble marker per group
When slips are ready to harvest, container filled with soil

Background Information:

   1. A true potato is a tuber, which is an underground swollen stem. A sweet potato
      is a swollen root that is part of the morning glory family (leaves are similar shapes,
      both vine, flower similar).

   2. Because of the resemblance of the sweet potato to the true potato, perhaps
      early people decided to refer to both as “potato”.

   3. Sweet potatoes are grown in many areas of the world with hot, moist climates.

   4. A sweet potato is a vegetable with yellow, orange, or purple skin. The inside flesh
      can be white, purple, yellow, pink, red, or orange. In the US, people prefer the
      orange variety. Purple flesh varieties are generally not grown here.

   5. Orange varieties are generally grown in the South, most notably North Carolina
      (43,000 acres) and Louisiana, with California, Mississippi, Alabama, New Jersey,
      Texas, Georgia and South Carolina following. Other varieties with light yellow or
      pale orange flesh are grown in California and the North around New Jersey, and
      are drier and stay firmer when cooked.

   6. Native Americans were farming sweet potatoes when Spanish explorers arrived
      in the 1500’s. Native Americans introduced sweet potatoes to early pioneers.

   7. Sweet potatoes were an item of trade from the South to the North, and were
      considered a staple food during Revolutionary and Civil War times. A colonial
      physician recommended sweet potatoes for children to prevent nutritional
      deficiencies.

   8. Sweet potatoes were stored in underground root cellars and eaten from late
      summer to the following spring.

   9. During the Civil War in the South, the sweet potato was cut, dried, ground, and
      brewed when coffee was in short supply.

   10. Before and during the Civil War in the South, sweet potatoes were cut into
       chunks and planted in the early warm summer soil. This is similar to how we plant
       white potatoes today in our gardens. Now cold frames are used to start sweet
       potato plants (called slips) that are transplanted when the danger of frost is past.
       We start ours indoors.




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                                                                                        Page 2
   11. In North Carolina, which is the top producer of sweet potatoes in the United
       States, sweet potatoes have been nicknamed the “Champion of Vegetables”
       because of their high nutritional value compared to other vegetables.

   12. Sweet potatoes are higher than most vegetables in overall nutrition across many
       vitamins and minerals. They are high in fiber and have high amounts of vitamin A
       (beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, antioxidants, and potassium. One cup of
       sweet potatoes has the same amount of vitamin A (which is four times the daily-
       recommended amount) as 23 cups of broccoli. Vitamin A helps your body’s
       immune system fight back against illness. Two-thirds cup of sweet potatoes has
       100% of the daily-recommended amount for vitamin E. Sweet potatoes also
       have iron and vitamin B6.

   13. Consumption of sweet potatoes is estimated at 5 pounds per person in the
       United States. In 1920, it was about 30 pounds.

   14. A sweet potato is not a yam. Yams come from the Caribbean. Yams are an
       edible tuber. The outside is rough and scaly. Yams are low in beta-carotene.
       Sweet potatoes are sweeter and have smooth skins.

   15. Several decades ago when producers wanted to distinguish orange sweet
       potatoes from the traditional white flesh types, the orange variety was named
       from the African word “nyami” because it resembled a food eaten in Africa. The
       word was shortened to the English form “yam”.

   16. The names are now used interchangeably, but the US Department of Agriculture
       requires that the label "yam" always be accompanied by "sweet potato" if it is
       not a true yam.

   17. Famous Americans: George Washington grew sweet potatoes on his farm at
       Mount Vernon, Virginia. George Washington Carver, a college professor and
       scientist, grew sweet potatoes and wrote a paper about growing, harvesting,
       and preparing them. He found a way to use sweet potatoes to make 118
       products, including glue for postage stamps and a starch for sizing cotton
       fabrics.

   18. Sweet potatoes have been around since prehistoric times, and may have been
       eaten by herbivore dinosaurs.

   19. Sweet potato farmers plant seed sweet potatoes in March in North Carolina. The
       sweet potatoes begin to grow their vines. The new plant that grows is called a
       “slip”. Slips are removed from April to May, and are transplanted to grow new
       plants and roots that will form into sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are
       harvested from August to November. Harvested sweet potatoes are stored in
       sheds of 85º F with relative humidity of 85% to 95% for 5 to 7 days. This period,
       called curing, heals any external wounds and toughens the skin. After this
       process the sweet potatoes are stored at 55º F until shipped or eaten.

Activity:



                                                                              Revised 02/10
                                                                                    Page 3
1. In advance, set up a sweet potato in the plastic cup. At least one inch of space
   is needed at the bottom of the cup to allow room for roots to develop. The
   toothpicks are inserted halfway down the sweet potato. The toothpicks make
   an “x” with two being opposite each other. This sweet potato will be used to
   compare growth in water to growth in soil.

2. In advance, microwave two sweet potatoes and cut into pieces for each
   student to sample. To microwave sweet potatoes, wash the sweet potatoes and
   pierce the skin in 2 to 3 places. Cook two medium-sized sweet potatoes on high
   for 5 to 6 minutes, turning each potato halfway through the cooking time.
   Remove from the microwave oven, wrap in aluminum foil, and allow to rest for at
   least 5 minutes before cutting.

3. In the classroom, hold up a sweet potato. Ask students what it is. Explain that
   you are holding a sweet potato, and ask who has eaten one and how.

4. Discuss some historical information about the sweet potato (from the
   background information). For example:
    Native Americans farmed sweet potatoes when Columbus arrived, and
       introduced sweet potatoes to early pioneers.
    Sweet potatoes were an item of trade from the South to the North, and were
       considered a staple food during Revolutionary and Civil War times. A
       colonial physician recommended sweet potatoes for children to prevent
       nutritional deficiencies.
    In North Carolina, which is the top producer of sweet potatoes in the United
       States, sweet potatoes have been nicknamed the “Champion of
       Vegetables” because of the high nutritional value compared to other
       vegetables. One cup of cooked sweet potatoes provides 30 mg of beta
       carotene (Vitamin A), which is the equivalent of 23 cups of broccoli.
    Famous Americans: George Washington grew sweet potatoes on his farm at
       Mount Vernon, Virginia. George Washington Carver, a college professor and
       scientist, grew sweet potatoes and wrote a paper about growing, harvesting,
       and preparing them. He found a way to use sweet potatoes to make 118
       products, including glue for postage stamps.
    Sweet Potatoes have been around since prehistoric times, and may have
       been eaten by herbivore dinosaurs.
    The average American eats about 5 pounds of sweet potatoes per year.

5. Is a sweet potato a potato? Explain why a sweet potato is not a potato – how
   they grow, part eaten. Show a true potato. If potatoes have already been
   planted outside, discuss what students remember from planting day. If not,
   compare the sweet potato to a potato. Ask students for similarities and
   differences. Some students may recall some potato facts from the harvest day
   at the start of the school year. What is the part that grows the new plant? Eyes.
   Does the sweet potato have eyes? No eyes, but the sweet potato has roots.
   What plant part do we eat? Stem. What part of the sweet potato do we eat?
   Root. Show the picture of the root with the swollen sweet potato roots. What
   does the potato look like above ground? It has stems, leaves and flowers at the
   top. Show how the sweet potato grows. It is a vine that spreads and does not
   grow tall. Flowers grow along the vine.


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6. Some comparisons:

     Sweet Potato                                  True Potato
     Usually orange skin outside, but              Brown, light brown, purple, or red
     other colors are possible like                skin outside
     yellow, purple
     Thin skin                                     Thicker skin
     Appearance of small roots on                  Eyes
     outside
     Irregular shape with pointed ends             Oval or round
     from
     Usually orange flesh inside                   Usually white flesh inside
     Swollen root underground                      Swollen stem underground
     Vines with leaves and flowers                 Stems with leaves and flowers
     above ground                                  above ground
     Single flowers spaced on vine                 Cluster of flowers at top of stem

7. Divide the class into six groups. Explain that we are planting sweet potatoes to
   grow plants that will be used for planting later this spring. New plants, called
   slips, will grow from a planted sweet potato. This is the method sweet potato
   farmers use. They grow slips from seed sweet potatoes, and plant the slips to
   grow vines that will be harvested and planted to grow sweet potatoes
   underground.

8. Explain that students will plant in soil. One sweet potato will be planted in water.

9. Demonstrate how to plant in soil. Sweet potatoes are planted horizontally in the
   pot of soil. They are wiggled in so about two-thirds is under the soil.

10. Pass out a container of soil, a sweet potato, and a worksheet to each group.
    Choose a student to plant the sweet potato for their group. Have the students
    who will plant hold up their sweet potato. Decide which is largest, second
    largest, and so on. The largest is number one, the next largest is number two,
    and so on. The ranking is recorded on the worksheet.

11. While one student plants, tell the rest of the group to think of a name. A label or
    masking tape and permanent marker work great to label the container.

12. Rotate jobs in the group to be sure everyone has an opportunity to do
    something. Here’s an example: student 1 – plants the sweet potato and records
    the size ranking on the worksheet; student 2 – prints the first name of the group
    members and the sweet potato on the worksheet; student 3 – prints the response
    to “will slips grow first in water or soil”; student 4 – prints the response to “will soil or
    water grow the most slips”; student 5 – prints the response to “do larger sweet
    potatoes grow more slips”. To avoid spilling soil, it may be best for an adult to
    print the name of the sweet potato on the.

13. Responses to the questions should be based on a hand vote within their group.

14. Guide the students in developing a sentence to guess the answer to each
    question (a hypothesis). Write sentences on the board that they can copy and
                                                                                     Revised 02/10
                                                                                           Page 5
      fill in the missing piece. (For example, you write “I think slips will grow first in
      (water, soil).” The students copy the sentence and choose water or soil. If time is
      running short, one word responses are fine.

   15. Explain that we’ll monitor what happens, and write the conclusions to their
       guesses in the spaces provided. Some questions will take several weeks of
       observation before a conclusion is possible.

   16. Can they tell from where the leaves and vines will grow? If you have time, ask
       each student to mark a dot with a water-soluble marker to show where a slip
       may grow.

   17. Explain that at the end of the study, slips will be removed, potted, and planted
       outside. Sweet potatoes will be ready to harvest in the following fall when the
       students are in the second grade.

   18. Ask where the sweet potatoes should be placed. What do plants need to grow?
       Plants need sunlight, air, water, nutrients, and space to grow. How will we satisfy
       these needs? Place on the windowsill for sunlight and space, air is in the
       classroom, keep the soil moist with water, soil adds nutrients.

   19. Fill the cup with water and place on the windowsill. Water the soil containers
      and place on the windowsill. Place the worksheet under the container.

   20. Follow-up. Monitor the cup to be sure there is enough water. Change water
       that becomes discolored or has an odor. Remove any sweet potatoes that are
       producing an odor since these have started to rot, and see if Granny has a
       replacement. Monitor moisture of sweet potatoes in soil. They should be moist
       but not soaked.

   21. Removing sweet potato slips. Coordinators monitor the development of slips.
       Sweet potato slips are removed when they are about 2 inches long. Slips are
       removed by breaking the slip off where it meets the sweet potato skin. Removed
       slips are planted ½-inch deep in a pot of moist soil for the slip to develop roots.

   22. In 2010, fourth grade students will remove sweet potato slips and pot them.
       Some of the slips will be sold at Granny’s Spring Garden Party with the proceeds
       saved to fund the sweet potato project for the following year. Other slips will be
       planted by first grade students.

   23. Planting sweet potato slips. Sweet potatoes and slips are planted at least 12
       inches apart in a sweet potato patch. Sweet potatoes and slips are not planted
       in the class garden boxes because of the large amount of space needed for the
       vines and roots to develop.

Sources:
    North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission at
      http://www.ncsweetpotatoes.com/index.php, 01-29-10
    How the Farmer Can Save His Sweet Potatoes, George Washington Carver at
      http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/recipes/sweetpotatoes.html


                                                                               Revised 02/10
                                                                                     Page 6
   What is the Difference Between a Sweet Potato and a Yam? http://aggie-
    horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/vegetables/sweetpotato.html, 01-29-10
   Louisiana Sweet Potatoes at http://www.sweetpotato.org/content/teachers-
    and-kids/yamster-facts/, 01-29-10
   Sweet Potato, Another American at http://aggie-
    horticulture.tamu.edu/PLANTanswers/publications/vegetabletravelers/sweetpot
    ato.html, 01-29-10




                                                                      Revised 02/10
                                                                            Page 7
   Granny’s Garden School, Inc.
                Teaching in the Gardens
 SchoolGarden@fuse.net     20 Miamiview Lane, Loveland, OH 45140       513-324-2873
                            www.GrannysGardenSchool.com



               Starting Granny’s Sweet Potato Patch – Grade One



                What sounds like a potato and looks like a potato, but is not a
                potato? It’s a SWEET POTATO!

                A potato is a tuber, which is an underground stem. A sweet
                potato is a root that is part of the morning glory family (a pretty
                flowering vine in the school gardens).

                 A sweet potato is a vegetable loaded with vitamins and
                 nutrients. In North Carolina, which is the top producer of sweet
                 potatoes in the United States, sweet potatoes have been
                 nicknamed the “Champion of Vegetables” because they have
more nutritional stuff than many other vegetables.

Today we started sweet potatoes for Granny’s Garden School. Some were
prepared in water and others in soil. We’ll study the growth of slips (new sweet
potato plants) to draw conclusions about which method produced the most
slips. Later the slips will be removed and planted.

The new sweet potato roots will continue to grow underground. Next fall, the
sweet potatoes will be ready to harvest.

Ask your student how their sweet potatoes perform over the next several weeks.
Email Granny to join our class for our next garden experience!




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                                                                                 Page 8
                          Granny’s Garden School
                           Sweet Potato Pictures




                          Sweet potatoes on a root
   from Sweet Potato Grows Roots in Outer Space by Mohit Yoshi, Top News.in,
http://www.topnews.in/sweet-potato-grows-roots-outer-space-2127021, 04-07-09




  Sweet potato vine and flower from Pick Your Own: An Organic Living Farm,
      http://www.aloha.net/~coconuts/AlternativeFood.htm, 04-07-09



                                                                      Revised 02/10
                                                                            Page 9
                            Granny’s Garden School

                             Diagram of a Potato Plant
Courtesy of Alberta, Agriculture and Rural Development, Botany of the Potato Plant
 http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/opp9547, 02-04-10




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                                                                               Page 10
                   Granny’s Garden School
                 A Sweet Potato is Not a Yam




           Sweet potato (left) compared to yam (right)
from http://www.flickr.com/photos/radagast/70320951/, 04-07-09




                                                                 Revised 02/10
                                                                      Page 11
      Granny’s Garden School, Inc.
                     Teaching in the Gardens
  SchoolGarden@fuse.net          20 Miamiview Lane, Loveland, OH 45140        513-324-2873
                                  www.GrannysGardenSchool.com

    What Happens When Sweet Potatoes are Planted in Water and Soil – Grade One

Our group:                                       Sweet potato name:


                                                 Sweet potato size ranking:




Will slips grow first in water or soil?




Conclusion based on your pot (Was the conclusion the same for all pots?)




Will soil or water grow the most slips?




Conclusion based on your pot (Was the conclusion the same for all pots?)




Do larger sweet potatoes grow more slips?




Conclusion




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                                                                                      Page 12

				
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