Last fall, when I harvested sweet potatoes, I stuck a slip in the ground under the drip line of the Hass avocado tree. I wanted to see if the vine would take and survive the winter. It did, and it grew vigorously all summer until yesterday I tore out the foliage and dug up the roots to see if it had produced tubers worth eating.

Indeed, the thing had made 10 sweet potatoes, four of which were nearly as fat as my forearm. We ate some last night, along with sauteed sweet potato greens and pork chops. But here are some of the rest:

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What is exciting about these results is that it feels like I got the sweet potatoes for free. It feels like they grew wildly. After planting the slip, I never gave them another moment of attention. I didn’t water or weed them. I watered the avocado tree and the sweet potato vine got its water incidentally.

This was an efficient use of space too. The vine crept along the ground at the outer edge of the tree’s canopy, but it wasn’t an obstacle to walking around the tree. Last summer I grew squash vines at the edges of a number of tree canopies, and though they produced well, they were bulkier and more of a tripping hazard.

The single negative was that while digging up the sweet potatoes, I inevitably damaged some avocado roots. But the tree didn’t seem to skip a beat. Maybe it’s because the harvest was done in October, which is the time of year when avocado roots are growing (and therefore, regrowing) the most.

So I’ve planted slips at the edges of a couple other avocado trees for next year. Who knew that avocados and sweet potatoes could be such good friends?