I have an orange thumb.

I just found this in my pantry:

sam i yam2

I can’t keep a houseplant alive to save my life but I can make my sweet potatoes grow into unwanted plants with literally no effort at all.  I can only imagine this means I have some sort of super power which allows me to drain the life of fern and transfer it’s leaves onto a yam.

This is a terrible superpower.

Unless yam plants are a good thing.  Are they?  Could I just put a yam-growth in a vase and use that as my new houseplant?  If they’re so hardy why don’t we grow them instead of the more easily murderable plants?  I’m pretty sure the only difference between a yam-growth and a lily is that one has a better name.  I just need to find a better name and then I can sell my accidental yam-growths and live off the proceeds.  Something like  “YaMandrake” or “Potato-Pansy”.  Maybe if I keep letting it grow it’ll get really enormous and then I can create a portable yam hedge that you can bring with you to use when you’re stalking someone in the desert.  BYOB.  (Bring Your Own Bush.)

I just tried to look up “Can I keep a sprouted potato” but after I typed in “Can I keep a” google auto-suggested “Can I keep a wild rabbit, a gun in a car, a wild turtle or a fox as a pet“.


WTF, google.  I just want to keep a potato.

Then when I added the “s” for “sprouted” google was like “OH, I KNOW WHAT YOU WANT!” and suggested “Can I keep a shotgun in my car” or “Can I keep a squirrel as a pet“.  Jesus, Google. I know I live in Texas but way to stereotype me.

When I got to “Can I keep a spr” google auto-changed the whole question to “Can you have a spray tan when pregnant?”  I don’t know, Google.  I guess?  Why are you asking me?  YOU ARE GOOGLE.

Remember when Google was there to answer questions instead of just raise more?  Me either.
Remember when Google was there to answer questions instead of just raise more? Me either.

Eventually I typed in the whole question but all the links told me how to keep my potatoes from sprouting, rather than how to grow my sprouted potatoes into a giant bush.  I considered googling “How to grow a giant bush from a potato” but I was afraid of what the auto-suggestion would be after I typed in the first part of that search, and so I decided to just give up and wait to see what happens with my potato.  It’s like a science experiment, but in laziness.

Also, I glued some googly eyes on the potato so it looks more life-like, and will be less likely to be thrown away by Victor if the potato can stare at him accusingly.  I was going to call him Mr. Potato Head but that seemed too obvious so instead his name is Samuel Ignacious.

Sam I. Yam.  Naturally smiley.
Introducing Sam I. Yam. He’s naturally smiley and high in vitamin C.

I’ll keep you posted on my big bush.

PS. Victor just found Sam and he claims that what I’m doing is a very common children’s science experiment and he was like “Seriously?  You never grew a potato plant when you were a kid?”  He says I’m supposed to cut the potato and add water and put toothpicks in it, but that sounds suspiciously like a recipe and I think he’s just trying to trick me into accidentally cooking. He insists that every child made potatoes sprout into plants and I was like, “Not us. We were poor. Some of us had to eat our potatoes, Victor.  We couldn’t all go around wasting toothpicks and putting googly eyes on our pet potatoes, Daddy Warbucks.” Then Victor countered that googly eyes aren’t supposed to be part of the science project but I’m pretty sure that just proves that he’s doing science wrong.

292 thoughts on “I have an orange thumb.

Read comments below or add one.

  1. OMG! That is hilarious!

    I grow potatoes like that all the time, but I’ve never thought of putting googly eyes on them. My boys will love it!

  2. I don’t drink and yet I’m constantly almost turning my potatoes into vodka. it should be pretty useful but I can’t be bothered to follow through on the vodka making part. Instead I just create the sprouted, mushy vegetable part.

    Tell Victor he is wrong. I never grew a potato as a kid but we did put toothpicks in an avocado pit and sprout those. Yet, I don’t have an avocado tree to this day. So I’m thinking the experiment is a bit flawed. Or maybe it is just another example of my lack of follow through.

    I say plant Sam I Am, googly eyes and all, and when you start to reap the bounty of your efforts, you can make a smug yam dish to serve Victor.

  3. I think Victor is confused avocado pits with potatoes because that’s the only thing I stuck toothpicks in and tried to sprout. As far as houseplants go, ferns are way hard, be nice to yourself and get something that’s easier to take care of and harder to kill. Today a potato, tomorrow a …. ????

  4. The whole one-eye-bigger-than-the-other thing makes him look like he’s looking through a cartoon magnifying glass (or wearing a monocle).

  5. Of course googly eyes! Honestly, they’re always the most important part!

    And completely off topic, I just saw you in Wil and Anne Wheaton’s 2015 celebrity pet calendar video, with a whole assortment of your pets, live and otherwise. Seeing Beyoncé there reminds me that my daughter just told me about a new store that opened in her town. She had to go in it and look around because they have GIANT METAL CHICKENS sitting in the front to attract folks! And then when the owner asked her what brought her in, she was able to tell her, “It was the giant metal chickens.” I hope the owner becomes a member of House Bloggess, too, since — amazingly enough — she wasn’t one already, but obviously she should be, considering her selection of life-sized Beyoncés!

  6. I think it needs water. Do you have a small casserole dish you could put him in and cover the bottom with water? You wouldn’t need to stab him with toothpicks and it would be like take Sam I. Yam to the pool day.

  7. At some point your yam will start to hear the tick tock of its yammy clock and start shriveling up i believe. Perhaps tucked into some soil it can add to your yammy booty.

  8. Please keep us posted, Jenny…MY pantry-grown sweet potato is only about half that size…we can be Potato Pansy Twins!!!

  9. whawhawhatsis reminded me of a little shop my husband & I pass when we go to the Woodcrap store (don’t ask). It has a lot of Beyonce’s and I really want to stop in and buy one. I always mumble “Knock Knock Motherfucker” and my husband rolls his eyes at me.

  10. Sweet potato vines were very popular during the Victorian era – so plant that thing!

    I recently started planting my accidentally growing veggies in my side yard, I’ve got potatoes, onions, garlic and carrots.

  11. Sweet potatoes and yams are two different things. They are two different species of root vegetable with very different backgrounds and uses.
    One is probably from the wrong side of the tracks….and will cut you!

    (Next you’ll be telling me that sweet potatoes aren’t really potatoes. ~ Jenny)

  12. I have a whole bag of sweet potatoes that have sprouted. Found ’em today when digging for my crock pot. Ok, so the teen found ’em when digging for the crockpot. I don’t do my own digging, dammit, I have Minions for that.


    I think I’ll get Princess to glue eyes to it, and start a Yarmy. Yamarmy? Something like that. A Horde of Yambush. Yambushi? Yambushy? And when Wolf asks, b/c he has a complete lack of imagination (or righteously fears me) what googly eyed yams are doing sprouting on the counter, I’ll answer, “Bloggess.” And smile my ‘do you really want to know?’ smile.

  13. Just put a bowl of waxed fruit on the table. It won’t sprout and you can feed it to your inlaws when they stay too long. If they still make waxed fruit, that is. You might need to go antiquing.

  14. Google and autocorrect need to stop trying to guess what we’re thinking. It just makes them look like complete asses. Seriously, Google and autocorrect, we’re all laughing behind your backs.

  15. I seriously have to quit reading your blogs at work. I’m crouched down behind my desk (I’m also pretty darn pregnant, so that in itself is hilarious) trying not to be noticed laughing hysterically.

  16. I’m going to have to ask that you give it a toupee. It just seems right. Now that Victor mentioned it, I feel like I did that experiment too. I can almost feel the texture of a waterlogged potato in my hands right now. Blech.

  17. Hmmm that actually makes me wonder if to the question “do you have any pets” I should just answer “Indian food moths”. Because I can’t seem to get rid of the motherfuckers from our pantry. We murdered ALL OF THEM and they got back in through the window.

  18. Fascinating and amusing vegetable story but mostly I’m noting your house is dripping with cats.

  19. Oh man, laughed when I read: “that seemed too obvious so instead his name is Samuel Ignacious.”
    Of course it makes sense with Sam I. Yam, but thinking Samuel Ignacious was your go-to random name was pretty darn sweet too.

  20. I’m so disappointed in you. You grew up in the country with animals. You know the first is to not name your pets/plants/yams so you can eat them later guilt-free.

  21. Oh my god, did you never read the short story Subsoil by Nicholson Baker? I have nightmares about sprouting potatoes. What if those sprouts go into your orifices and you become a potato?!?!?!?! Kill it! Kill it with fire.

  22. brilliant! … slightly off-topic but what IS that behind the science project?! looks like a huge bong?? or is it part of said science project that you just haven’t mentioned yet?

    (I don’t know what it is either. I found it in a thrift shop. Not sure what I’m going to do with it yet. ~ Jenny)

  23. I’m going to go with “put it in dirt”. 😀

    Once I took really old gross regular white potatoes and threw them in my compost pile. A few months later they had grown into huge plants and made me pounds of potatoes. Of course, they were literally grown in waste and half of them had turned green from the sun…. but still, I dug out my trash potatoes, in my bare feet, feeling very appalaichian-ish, and I cooked the ones that looked not green.

    I also tried to grow sweet potatoes once, but some stupid rodent moved in and ate all the good part, and let the greens grow. I thought I had great sweet potatoes, and instead I had greens with a nub of nibbled orange stuff. 🙁

    Fresh sweet potatoes are amazingly good. You’d think it wouldn’t make a difference? But it totally does.

  24. I always accidentally sprout my potatoes. I planted one last year to see if I could get ANY sweet potatoes off it, and NOTHING.
    And go home, Google! You’re drunk!

  25. Sweet potatoes make a great ground cover where you can’t get grass to grow. And they make more sweet potatoes! But maybe you don’t want that baby tater-making stuff going on in your yard.

  26. Daddy Warbucks, indeed. Back in my day, it was sprouting a Lima bean on a wet paper towel. Who knew the rich kids got to use potatoes?

  27. The Imp!! I love “Yarmy” I think it is fantastic! Time to get some yams and make my own Yarmy!

  28. Is It organic? They put anti-sprout chemicals on the regular stuff. I also tried planting randomly sprouted taters and got a little harvest of spuds. You should try it. And name the babies. And give them more googly eyes.

  29. At some point you may need to put it in dirt, but keep an eye out. (ha!) BTW, sweet potatoes plants are vines– lovely, abundant ones that are frequently used in container plants because they will TAKE OVER YOUR GARDEN if you put them in the ground!

  30. It’s obv. Yamdrake. But he goes by Sam I. Yam for funsies. Or Sam Eye Yam? Do sweet potatoes have eyes, too? Or is that just regular old grouchy potatoes?

  31. Ok, Victor, you’re wrong on this one. I didn’t get to do any potato growing in school. And I’m a science teacher now! Also, I incorporate googly eyes into as many of my lessons as possible. These two things could be related.

  32. I grew potatoes as a child. We had a half-acre vegetable garden, and the potatoes grew in a long row of little mounds.

  33. I had a sweet potato do that once, so I cut each sprout away, separately, planted them in a row, and grew sweet potatoes. I turned one sweet potato into twenty pounds of them! MAGIC!

  34. Is that some sort of skull bong behind the potato? If that is a faucet, I need to know immediately where you purchased it and if I can still get one. Actually, you can just tell me what it is, and I’ll probably still want it. I like skulls like you like humanely dead stuffed animals.

  35. Incidentally, many stores treat their sweet potatoes with chemicals to keep them from sprouting, so your mileage may vary with trying to grow your own. Oh, and just to be a total know-it-all, I’m pretty sure that skull thing is just a pipe (tobacco pipe, that is). It is, however, very, very cool! Looks like a hand holding a skull? Very fine craftsmanship!

  36. We share a power!!! Now I get to brag to everyone that we have this amazing thing in common. 😀

  37. I just thought of another thing. My daughter grew plants from lima beans in 2nd grade. I got a call from the teacher complaining about her because she ATE the lima bean. I asked her if there was poison on it, and she said no. After a lengthy pause. I didn’t see what the problem was. (By the way, this is the same daughter who is the enormous fan of Dr. Who. I tagged you in her first day of school pic in her Dr. Who dress. She is now in 6th grade.)

  38. When I taught preschool (yes, they let me around impressionable minds. I blame the administration. They should have known better. I mean, who let’s someone as sarcastic as me, teach children?) we had to have a plant in our classroom to meet guidelines to keep our funding. The director brought me a sweet potato. I tried telling her I have the thumbs of the grim reaper for plants, but she insisted I could keep it alive. It died 2 weeks later. So she brought another. I wasn’t allowed near it. It sat in a jar, submerged halfway in water, suspended by toothpicks. It grew into a lovely vine-ish plant. I kept my distance. And one day, the water was low, so I refilled it. The next day, the plant looked sad. I think it knew that I hate yams. It could feel my disdain and contempt. I tried to tell it that I had no intentions to eat it. It didn’t listen. A week later, it was failing. I sang to it. I made it get well cards. Nothing helped. Maybe if I had given it googley eyes, it would have seen I was not a real threat. Sadly, it passed away. I was given another, and I kept my distance. It scarred me for life. I even avoid going near the yams in the grocery store now. I bet they know I’m a yam murderer. I don’t want to risk being judged by them.

  39. I think we did that with pineapples, and I’ve heard of avocado pits, but never potatoes. Sam I. Yam is the best name ever!

  40. Omg, I literally found the same thing in my kitchen – purple sprouty sweet potato twins!

  41. My grandma constantly had potatoes, sweet potatoes and avocados sprouting in mason jars around her kitchen. She didn’t cut them, but she did put toothpicks in the sides to hold them up across the top of the jar, and water in the bottom, of course.

  42. Apparently my great-grandmother used to do this in her kitchen when my mom was little. I asked mom about it and she got all excited. So I grew one. Loved it! The jar it’s in should be clear, though. I had 2 and one was in a black plastic cup and it just grew mildew. The other one, however, in the mason jar was So pretty. Lots of vines and lots of pretty, pretty leaves. I should do it again.

  43. i think I did the potato thing. We grew chickens, too, in an incubator. We also grew germs in an incubator. Those were way more memorable than a potato that doesn’t even have butter on it.

  44. I think “the more easily murderable plants” should be the official name of normal houseplants. Also, do you have not only a miniature skull (fairly understandable), but a miniature skull HOLDER?

  45. You could let Sam take over your lawn. (They grow HUGE, but sort of sprawling.) And the good thing is, you’ll never have to mow.

    Actually, I think you have a magic throwback there, or maybe a mutant … Apparently stores (or growers, I’m hazy on the technical details) are now spraying yams and sweet potatoes with something to prevent them from sprouting, leading to many deeply disappointed third-graders who will never experience the magic of botany.

  46. Iv’e thought of another use for this. It kind of looks like a fascinator–you know, the British hat? You could grow these at home and make a fortune. Perhaps you’ll start a royal trend.

  47. This is surely the best (and only) yam conversation I’ve ever been a part of.Sam.I. Yam is ALL the cools.

  48. You don’t have to cut it, but if you do, you can have more than one plant. In this way, you can clone Sam I Yam. Make sure you have “eyes” (not the googly kind, the kind that grow the tentacles) on each piece. If you don’t want to cut it, you can just plant in soil outside or in a pot. If you want it to keep peeking at you, you can plant it shallowly so it’s eyes (the googly kind, not the tentacle-growing ones) are above the soil.
    In a few months, you can dig it up and eat Sam I Yam’s offspring, which seems kind of mean, after saving Sam I Yam from that fate by failing to cook him before he sprouted. Just sayin’. You could fail to cook the offspring and do the whole process over again…

  49. i’m just gonna let all my now-questionable food in the house magically become a beautiful garden!

  50. Where the hell did Victor go to school? Was it some whacko school that disliked potatoes and decided to encourage children to mutilate them? I know I never did any such potato mutilating science when I was in school. And total kudos for Sam I. Yam–that name is a work of pure, unadulterated awesomeness! You’re kind of my hero’cause you name every damn thing you can, from potatoes to giant metal chickens. I myself am a chronic namer of things, and get a lot of grief over this. Thanks to you, I can be all, “screw you assholes, the Bloggess does it too, and she’s completely bad-ass awesome and shit!” It’s like you’re the wind beneath my wings, except I don’t have wings and you’re not really wind-like, but totally like that except for those insignificant details!

  51. You can totally plant that yam (remover the eyes first) Sweet Potato vines are very pretty in flower beds, and they are easy to keep alive.

  52. We grow sweet potatoes plants here in Canada for decoration. You can buy sweet potatoevines at any nursery in our town. It will grow into the most beautiful lime green vine! Check out sweet potatoe vine on google images.Just break it off and put it in some soil. Of course technically that would make it a houseplant……….so you will probably kill it. On second thought, keep it attached as Sam looks better with hair anyway. PS Now I have bigger things to worry about like, should potatoe have an “e” on the end, or not…..? I’m confused.

  53. I never did that science experiment growing up. So far my daughter hasn’t either. Although she did do an experiment to see if plants would grow better in UV light or natural sunlight. So, basically, we had a grow-house operation for two months.

  54. Sweet potato vines are really pretty. I think you can eventually plant the sprouted potato outdoors. In the meantime, don’t you have cat wigs lying around somewhere? Don’t you think it’s time for Sam-the -Spud to have a hairdo?

  55. If (and when) I see something like that in my kitchen, I run and hide and hope that my boyfriend will discover it and throw it away. In the river, perhaps. Then I sit in the corner and cry about my poor housekeeping skills.

  56. That’s actually quite pretty! The only potato related oddity I’ve ever had was about 3 months ago I was cutting up potatoes to boil and there was a geode-like crystal formation inside of one and I cannot find ANYTHING online about why my potato had a geode cluster inside it.

  57. I don’t think it is possible for me to adequately express to you how much I love you. Just exactly what I needed after a crappy day at work.

  58. You’re so funny! Do you read all these comments and think I’m so funnnaaay!!!!! But for realz you’ve been totally helping me and inspiring me to write out my crazies and I made my husband read your book cuz I loved it so much AND HE LOVED IT TOO. BTW I’m not even allowed to attempt real plants anymore, after the “Basil Incident”. We grew a beautiful plant out of an egg from the conservatory. Then we ate some of it and I got so sad and then it died. We had succulents too, and they didn’t exactly die but they looked like shit and when we moved we gave them to some neighbors and then they sent us pictures OF THEM FLOWERING. Out of my house one week and totally better.

  59. The glass thing is a cluster vase, so you can make fancy flower arrangements.
    Anyway, I manage to sprout a lot of potatoes, but usually regular ones…

  60. You should probably put Sam into a pot of dirt. Cover up his round head so that only his hair growth is above the dirt. Keep him watered according to Potato farmer guidelines (which can probably be found on google).
    As for chopping him up & using toothpicks, I think its way too late for that. GramCram did that when she was sprouting potatoes, but at this point she’d be planting them. Victor’s right in that if you do that w/ a non-sprouted potato, it will grow sprouts However it won’t live forever that way, and eventually one would need to plant the thing or toss it.

    I’m in favor of planting in Sam’s case. It isn’t nice to throw away one’s friends (you can use that line on Victor if you think it would help).

  61. So now, if someone jumps out at you in the woods and demands that you bring them a shrubbery, you know what to fetch!

  62. I had a pair of them that I literally kept in our apartment for 8 months. And then we moved and Brian made me throw both my potato babies away. I think I have pictures. They were beautiful.

  63. They make lovely plants. You do stick toothpicks in it to suspend it in a mason jar of water. Once you get lots of roots and lots of stems with leaves, you can plant them in potting soil.

  64. I have a sweet potato with the same affliction. Definitely busting out the googly eyes!!

  65. Where is the poll asking if we ever did potato science experiments?? I guess you can’t technically do a scientific one since you stated your opinion. But Victor would totally lose this one!

  66. I too was poor, but went to posh school on transfer. I have never grown a potato plant.

  67. Yes, you can totally put your sprouted sweet potato in a vase and grow it as a houseplant. When I was a girl, I grew a sweet potato in a pot and entered it in the local flower show. Won a blue ribbon! I have one growing on my windowsill right now. Just put the bare end into a vase or jar of water and roots will start growing in about a week. Later, if you want to, you can plant it into a pot or in the ground next spring. They are sensitive to cold, so I don’t know if you could plant it outside now and get any new sweet potatoes before it freezes.

  68. I just want to comment about the commenting here. All of it is literate! There is no “they’re/there/their” or “your/you’re” homophone abuse. “Literally”, when it is used, literally means “literally”. Kudos to your fans and followers!

  69. This is amazing (and it made me think of those bean-sprouting experiments in fourth grade, which made me so, so happy) and basically the only way I can grow anything, too! Also? Loving Vaguely Menacing Background Kitty. That potato is a foe he needs to vanquish.

  70. Hahaha oh my gosh this is the best thing I’ve read all day. I just threw out a similar looking sweet potato the other day 😉

  71. Wait, it’s not normal to put googly eyes on your produce? I do it all the time, I use a little flour and water as glue so I can still eat them because I’m both crazy and thrifty.

  72. My daughter made a donkey out of two potatoes and toothpicks in elementary school. She left it in the car where it somehow found its way under a seat and stayed there until the stench gave its location away. No sprouts, just stink. I hope Sam I. Yam fares better.

  73. I wish I found that in my pantry. Instead, I found a dead rat that one of my cats killed. The potato is a lot cuter.

  74. I don’t want to panic you – but have you ever seen John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’?

    Have your cats been acting oddly recently? Okay – more oddly.

  75. regarding your lame ass superpower, I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that sweet potatoes are “super foods” which I can only assume means they fly around in capes falling for chain-smoking reporters and saving people from certain doom. And that fact that you can sprout something as amazing as that is not even in the realm of lame.

  76. In a lot of cultures, the leaves are seen as a wonderful food source also!! We got 8kg of sweet potatoes out of our garden after one in the compost sprouted!!

  77. It’s a great super power, thing of all the people you could feed with crops of yams. 🙂

  78. Oh, Jenny … for once (again), Victor is dead-on right. Stick four toothpicks into Sam’s waist/equator as supports, put him half-deep into a glass of water, root end down, put the glass in the window and STAND BACK. Sweet potatoes are like pothos in their ability to grow runners.

    And @skullwoman is right; that skull-bowled meerschaum is a beautiful example. I wish any of my meerschaums had ever looked that cool in my pipe-smoking days.

  79. Put it in a shallow dish with water. If you tie up some strings you can train the vine up them and around a window or something. Someone may have already said this, I didn’t read all the comments. Maybe I should be referring to the potato as “him”?

  80. I noticed the beautiful glass object behind Sam I. Yam. I think it is called a multiple bud vase or a wreath bud vase. You can use them for flower arrangements. I’d love to have something like that, but I would definitely have to put fake flowers in it; I don’t have much of a green thumb either.

    If Sam starts to flower, maybe you can put the flowering vines in the bud vases!

  81. get a spathophyllum (I think they’re called peace lillies) they do great indoors and are really hard to kill. You do have to water them somewhat frequently, but they’ll droop if they don’t have enough water and all you have to do is give them some and they’ll pop right back up!

  82. Just put the plain end into a jar with water in it — stick toothpicks around the yam to hold it up near the top of the jar and leave just the bottom in the water. Then stick it on top of your refrigerator and watch your “sweet potato vine” grow like a weed. PS Eventually it starts to look sort of sad, so you throw it away, wash out the jar, and stick another yam with toothpicks and start over. I think you can do this with carrot tops, beet tops, and pineapples, but I’m only experienced in the yam area. xoxox

  83. I went to university in Idaho and a handsome farm boy came to my door to ask if I wanted to buy some potatoes. So of course I bought ten pounds. And promptly broke my blender by trying to mash the potatoes BEFORE cooking them.

    By the time I graduated, my last potato had grown into a four foot tall bush.

  84. He’s definitely doing science wrong. I put googly eyes on a lot of the lab equipment.

  85. You can plant it, they love water, but in Texas, the rabbits will eat them if you plant them in the yard. Put it in a pot on the porch. Partial shade.

  86. Sam I Yam is much less ominous with the googly eyes. Actually, does he have an eyeless sibling? Because the he looks very different from the first picture!

  87. Weird historical tidbit for all y’all: When they were trying to introduce potatoes as a food crop in France in the 18th century, one of the PR stunts they came up with was to have Marie Antoinette wear potato blossoms in her hair; for a long time, people thought of them as strictly ornamental plants. (They are part of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes and eggplants, and IIRC the foliage on all of these can be toxic.) There’s also the Sweet Potato Queens out of Jackson, MS, but that’s a whole different story right there…

    (Oh, and the earlier printings of Laurel’s Kitchen, the classic vegetarian cookbook from the ’70s, told the story of how the original Laurel had a sweet potato vine growing throughout her tiny little Berkeley kitchen back in the ’60s, so there’s that. And no, we never sprouted potatoes, just lima beans; Victor is indeed probably thinking of avocado pits, which can grow a lovely tree with a little luck.)

  88. Oh my god, the stalks are neon pink, WHY ARE THEY NEON PINK? Alien potato!!!

    You could probably rent it out as a sci-fi film prop, especially with the googly eyes. Back when I worked in a grocery store I had a customer come through the checkout with a bunch of dragonfruit and she was like, “I have no idea what these are, but do you think they could pass for extra-terrestrial plant life? It’s for a movie.” Sometimes I loved that job.

  89. Go get a sharpie and draw eyelashes over those googly eyes because that sweet potato is OBVIOUSLY a GIRL! Very pretty, too!

  90. Don’t cut up sweet potatoes to grow them. They are a different species from potatoes. Each come that is coming off it can be separated and will grow a plant. In Texas, they should grow well, they like heat, but will die if there is a frost. There are actually varieties grown just as a decorative ground cover.

  91. I needed this post tonight. Good luck with Sam I. Yam. I kill plants and keep things alive in my pantry too. Science. Sometimes I don’t get it.

  92. Love Sam! And that thing behind him is a multi-bud vase for making centerpieces. So really, it’s an appropriate backdrop for Sam and all his babies!

  93. Yes! My grandmother did this for the same reason: She absolutely could not keep most houseplants alive. She did have this one vine thing in a hanging planter that stuck around for years though. I seem to recall she used sweet potatoes.

  94. A portable yam hedge? haha oh my god. only you could make a post about a yam absolutely hilarious. My potatoes sprout but also turn to rotton black mush. So, apparently you are the best. Not only in the writing arena, but in the bush-growing one. THANK YOU, from me and Sam.

  95. A portable yam hedge? haha oh my god. only you could make a post about a yam absolutely hilarious. My potatoes sprout but also turn to rotton black mush. So, apparently you are the best. Not only in the writing arena, but in the bush-growing one. THANK YOU, from me and Sam.

  96. Totally remember the potato experiment. They probably had us do it about the same time they made us run a clock off a potato.

    Also, the thing behind it is a multiple bud vase. Good for centerpieces (or I’ve seen people use it to sprout a lot of cuttings at once–whatever works).

    Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had in ages.

  97. I’ve got all sorts of potato-sprouting talents. Also, onions. I also once had a bag of potatoes MELT in a cupboard. Do not let that happen, it smelled extremely vile and the smell lingered for months.

  98. I’m pretty sure that Death himself is hovering behind Sam I. Yam, and you should protect him because the outlook does not look good.

  99. I heart your googley-eyed approach. If you would like plants, snap off the pretty purple tentacles, then put them in water. They will take root, and then you can plant them outside. Because you’re in such a warm climate, they will probably last all year long. I think. I can’t remember what they do once the growing cycle is done. But if they don’t… each tentacle will grow a new sweet potato so… profit?

  100. Okay, first we remember the organizing principles:
    1. When in doubt, Victor is right.
    2. There is always some doubt.
    3. If there is no doubt, Victor is still right.

    That said, Sam is awesome. Potatoes are incredibly easy to grow, which is why they make good childhood science projects, or Irish national starches, whichever. Presumably the Irish have made up a word that they pretend means “potato,” but which they will tell you you are pronouncing wrong no matter how you say it. So it goes.

  101. When I was a child, my parents would take us camping every summer (me, my brother, my mom and dad, a dalmation dog and 2 siamese cats in a VW bug)
    Part of the routine was that my brother and I would put a potato in a glass of water so that only the end got wet and put them in the dark in our closets.. When we came home from camping, we both raced to our rooms to check out our alien potato sprouters. The closet reeked of stinky potato water for a while but hey, that’s what traditions are made of!

  102. Ok so I’m sure someone told you this, or I’m just weird and know lots of gardening crap because I too have sprouted swet potatoes. You can plant Sam and get sweet potatoes. You can cut him into bits so that each bit has a sprout and put the bits into big pots with dirt underneath and then cover then with just enough dirt to cover the sprout. Then just keep adding dirt as it grows. Eventually several big (rather pretty) plants will emerge and small sweet potatoes will grow. You can also do this without cutting Sam up, you’ll just get fewer plants.

    Or you could just keep him in some water with his googly eyes and enjoy his company 🙂

  103. You need to Google for “planting sweet potato slips”, “potato”, “sweet potato” and “yam”.
    white potatoes are inedible when they sprout like this. Sweet potatoes are NOT related to potatoes, and they are also not yams. Googly-eyes are almost better than marshmallows as a sweet potato additive.

  104. If you break off the sprouts and plant them, you will get sweet potato vines the make more sweet potatoes. They are in the morning glory family and have flowers that look like morning glories.

  105. Can we hit pause on the sweet potato discussion for a sec and just take a moment to speak with Google? In fact, foxes can make extremely good pets. IT’S SHOCKING WE HAVE NOT YET DOMESTICATED THEM. A shame, really. Much like the shame surrounding Victor’s lack of recognition of Sam’s rights as a potato bush (those rights being, to not be eaten).

    (You mean “foxen,” right? ~ Jenny)

  106. If Sam’s eyes were on the left he’d have purple dreads. I never grew a potato in school.

  107. Victor is right, although I don’t remember doing this. But I was more an arts kid, frankly. Anyway, eHow says growing potatoes this way is fun and you could do both sweet and white and have them race to see which grows faster although it seems to me that Sam already has an unfair advantage. eHow also notes that you could give sweet potato plants as gifts and I’d like to point out that Halloween decorations are already in the stores here which means Christmas decorations should be arriving at any minute. http://www.ehow.com/how_6239373_grow-potato-water-science-project.html

  108. Wow… Ive accidentally sprouted many potatos in my day, but never a kumera (which is what NZders call sweet potatos) congrats on the vegetable reproductive cycle taking place in your pantry.

  109. I decided to fact check your Google search (I will do just about anything to delay the inevitable get-ready-for-school-right-now-damnit morning kid nagging) and inadvertently thumb-typed “Can I keep my d”. Google completed it with “Can I keep my dog’s testicles”. Ew. Just Ew.

  110. Plant it in the ground. You’ll get a nice plant and when that’s done, you can dig up MORE potatoes!!! It’s like a treasure hunt and the treasure is more yams! Who wouldn’t like that?! 🙂

  111. Just came home from vacation to find my sweet potatoes in the same condition! Too funny!

    1. I was enormously entertained by this post.
    2. I never grew a potato during grade school. We made mold out of white bread, does that count?
    3. I wonder if this is any way related to the ‘sweet potato vine’ that is in my flower boxes?
  112. That’s actually quite a lovely accidental plant. I didn’t realise if I left my potatoes alone long enough, they’d sprout pretty leaves. I also was limited to eating potatoes when I was a kid.

  113. I think people sprout all kinds of weird things, including avocado seeds (are they seeds? pits? I don’t know.) I’m not sure if people always add googly eyes though, but they definitely should.

    Also, Sam I. Yam. I’m lol’ing!

  114. We actually have an avocado pit suspended by toothpicks in our kitchen window right now. It’s next the the celery bottom sitting in a bowl of water. Now I’m going to have to figure out where to attach the googly eyes…

  115. Bad news; sweet potato plants are toxic to cats 🙁 Don’t let your cat kids near it.

    PS: Lilies are even more toxic to cats so it’s a GOOD thing you can’t grow them

  116. The placement of the eyes is perfect. Sam seems to be smiling.

    I think you could put the whole thing in a pot of dirt with the sprouts protruding and grow your own sweet potato plant.

  117. Jenny, I am a long term fan, but I just saw your video on Anne Wheaton’s site and I adore you even more. Thank you. I struggle with bi-polar disorder and my cat, Apollo, is all that gets me by sometimes.

  118. When my boys were young we had a sweet potato plant that made a lovely vine like ivy that grew around our kitchen window. Very pretty. Just stick a tooth pick in each end of the potato, cut a small slice off the bottom, and balance in on a glass of water so that 2/3 of the potato is out of the water and 1/3 of the potato is underwater. It will actually be a lot prettier than this somewhat handsome gent. You can keep the eyes on it. It adds personality.

  119. Again, I almost busted my important internal something-or-other laughing out loud at your blog, O Great Bloggess! Am seriously thinking of sprouting all my yams and potatoes, adding scary and creepy faces to them, and selling them to people who have too much money as Halloween home decor –will keep you posted on that. And thank you for helping to bring the bush back 😉

  120. Sam is right, needs water and eventually dirt. Eventually like this it will just live off itself and when there is nothing left it will (sniff) die.

  121. By the way… I recognize the glass object on which the skull-pipe is resting. I got mine at a fair — it’s a circle of tiny vases for tiny flowers. It’s beautiful….and sat unused under my sink until I got a dishwasher. Because I knew me….there was no way i was washing Each.Tiny.Vase. Dishwasher and weeds wildflowers for the win.

  122. I found the same thing in my kitchen, and we have a vegetable garden anyway so I basically just said “fuck it, stick out in the garden somewhere.” It’s growing great and I kill most plants too (my husband doesn’t so we’ve found a good balance there I guess). It grows into more of a vine than a bush, though, so if you put it in a pot it will probably just spill out into your house.

    I will try to remember to tweet you a picture later when I’m at home. Ours is growing in part-shade and we hardly ever water it, so, you know, go nuts.

  123. Hi I was recently introduced to your work…which I love. Thanks for being out there…take that in all the ways it could be used. I am thinking this item might just be for you…maybe your the one who made it….You have a secret Etsy account?


    Be well…..

    PS: maybe I’ll buy it myself and put it in my massage office….very comforting….

  124. Dude, you’re missing a huge opportunity here. That’s a potato peacock. Your googly eyes are on sideways. Just rotate it 90 degrees so the potato plant is the peacock plumage, add toothpick legs and you’ve got it.

  125. not mentioned yet,

    in general, you can use the toothpicks and water trick to sprout most anything.
    potatoes, radishes, onions, strawberries, avocadoes, carrots, pineapples, lettuce, beans, etc etc
    the toothpicks hold the old vegetable out of the jar of water so it doesn’t just rot In the water.
    place the jar in sunlight.

    on the potatoes, each eye will become a sprout. you can leave them in a group, or cut apart each eye or sprout individually.

    as mentioned, you can transfer the sprouts to the watered dirt as soon as the sprouts appear, and they will continue to grow. but weather and animals and chemical treatments can spoil those plans.

    sprouting shouldn’t take but a couple weeks, and after transferring to the dirt, the new vegetables should arrive in a couple months. the potatoes will be deeper underground, needing digging, while the carrots and onions etc will be near the surface and can just be pulled out.

    the avocado and other plants sprouted from seeds, like citrus, apple, etc, normally take about 5 years from planting the sprouts to bearing new fruit.

  126. The clear glass thing behind Samuel Ignacious is a vase for people who like to add complications to the simple things in life. You are supposed to put water in each individual glass bulb, and put an individual flower stem in each mini-vase. Seriously. Just plunk a bunch of stems in an old Mason jar and be done with it.

  127. I love everything you write, so thanks for that….the real reason I’m writing though, the pipe in the background might be the coolest thing I’ve ever seen! Where did you snag that delightful device?!?

    (It’s an antique meerschaum pipe that Victor traded a Japanese sword for because he knew I’d love it. He was right. ~ Jenny)

  128. I’ve sprouted potatoes (not sweet potatoes or yams since I don’t care for them) and onions. Once, in high school I used a sprouted onion from the pantry as a last minute plant for a bilology project, when my seeds didn’t sprout and I forgot to try and get new ones. I got an A.

  129. Bloggess – I read your blog all the time, seldom comment, know you’re weird (but in a good way), and am not typically taken aback by your posts.

    However yesterday was different. Yesterday I misread the first line of this post and thought you wrote, “I just found this in my panty.” I was momentarily stunned, and then decided, Good For Her! Bloggess is damn talented and has just discovered a new use for rooting yams!

    Imagine my disappointment after I read further and realized I misread the beginning (blame the small font on my smart phone).

    While I found your post quite amusing, I must admit, I liked it better when the yam surprised you in your panty.

  130. Only the Bloggess would keep cats in her pantry because hey you never know when you might need a spare cat for company!

  131. I had an onion that sprouted last spring. Just for fun I planted it in a large pot in the garden. I told the condo association garden police that it was an alium. It had little onion babies that I dug up and ate. Waste not want not. I’m going to have to try sweet potatoes next. 🙂

  132. They grow a rather lovely vine. People plant them as a decorative plant in their yards around here. And then they are surprised when they dig up potatoes.

  133. I have this irrational creeped-out reaction when I find a potato or an onion that has sprouted. Maybe it’s that they’re called “eyes”. Shiver.

    BUT, Samuel is very cute!! Maybe I’ll try to be a little more broadminded……or maybe I should immediately put googly eyes on any potatoes I buy?

  134. I know potato plants are poisonous to cats. Does this apply to yams? No idea. Do your own research, I’m not your intern.

  135. I found a sprouted sweet potato in my pantry last spring and threw it into one of the garden beds (grow here, bitch. I dare you!) It grew into a beautiful plant, but I didn’t get any sweet potatoes out of it (not surprising considering how short the growing season is here). If Sam starts to fail you can stir fry the leaves. Very tasty, if you want to cook.

  136. I found the same thing in my pantry today. I just put it back in to see how much it will grow. Too lazy to throw it out and no googly eyes to put on. I could whip out the Sharpie but who’s got the energy for that.

  137. I never grew a potato as a kid, despite growing up in a very sciencey household. Maybe that’s why I suck at houseplants, too.

  138. Daddy Warbucks made me actually giggle audibly. Never ever stop.

    I also am growing an onion forest, I need to do something about that.

  139. You managed to do it again. I was feeling all weepy from a sudden attack of lonely, when the part of my brain that remembered being happy said “Hey go check out Jenny’s blog that always makes you smile.” So I did and it took only a couple of seconds to have me laughing and feeling better. I think Sam I. Yam is going to be my desktop for the next few days.

  140. Get that shit out of your house!! Haven’t you seen “Little Shop of Horrors”?! You’re asking for it, Lady! Yikes.

  141. That’s a lot of comments to read, but if no one else mentioned it, I grow sweet potato Vince’s every year, and they’re gorgeous.

    You can seriously take that tater that you have, stick it in some dirt, add some water, and you’ll have beautiful vines for a super long time.

    I have a black thumb. If it can do it, ANYONE can!

  142. I NEEDED THIS. I was on the verge of crying or laughing from a series of unfortunate events, and I am SO glad I stumbled upon this cyberspace happy hour because I just laughed so hard I think I have an eight-pack now. You’ve saved me from nightmares tonight, Potato Queen!

  143. Ok seriously. Cut a chunk of potato with a tentacle or three on it, and bury that sucker. You’ll grow sweet potatoes and you don’t even have to do anything to them except dig them up. And if you don’t feel like digging them up, they make a really pretty vine anyway.

  144. A few months ago I wanted to microwave a potato like a faked baked potato. So I typed, “how to mic” into Google and it prefilled “how to microwave a baked potato”. Ever since then my friends and I (a set which disturbingly contains several high-profile Google employees) reply to all freaky Google results with, “Google always knows when you have a potato.”

    However, Google appears to have no fucking clue that you have a yam.

  145. Put it back in the pantry. It wl grow better in a dark cool place. Yes, I know that makes potatoes sort of evil.

    Also, is that a giant bong behind Sam??
    You shouldn’t leave your paraphernalia just lying around where your kids could accidentally break it.

  146. Please never stop blogging! I just started my morning with the biggest laugh because of this post and now I’m convinced I’ll probably have a great day. Thank you.

  147. All these sweet potato musings have started “Potato’s in the Paddy Wagon” from the mocumentary ‘Like a Mighty Wind’ playing in my mind. With Jane Lynch and Parker singing the leads, of course. There is potential for much adventure in the presence of a sweet potato.

  148. We grew beans but not potatoes. Dried beans were cheap enough for the school to afford.

  149. My high school drama teacher always had a pet potato on her desk that we christened “Rat Yam”. Sometimes those growths give them suspicious, animal-like properties…

  150. !!! Kind of important: OK with yams and most sweet potatos, but keep in mind that some sweet potatos and ALL potato sprouts are toxic. You probably want to make sure the cats don’t graze on Mr. Googly Eyes, just in case.

  151. !!! Kind of important: OK with yams and most sweet potatos, but keep in mind that some sweet potatos and ALL potato sprouts are toxic. You probably want to make sure the cats don’t graze on Mr. Googly Eyes, just in case. (Just in case you want to check, I am a veterinarian, and I did see solanine poisoning from regular potatoes in a dog once while a student at vet school.)

  152. I remember doing the potato experiment. I also remember my dad yelling something about a “nasty, rotting potato with toothpicks” on the kitchen counter. He’s kind of a dick. Maybe I should have put eyes on it.

  153. I LOVE that color purple. I want to paint a bathroom that color! I think Martha Stewart started her entire line of paint colors using the colors in eggs and spuds. I think the colors were called the “Egg and Spud Collection” actually. Thanks for the inspiration, once again! T:)

  154. My mother used to grow potato plants from potatoes that had sprouted. She DID plant a slice in a glass jar, with water, and toothpicks. I don’t know why she did this, but i have come to believe that she was creating poison, seriously. the green parts on white potatoes is a poison, i forget which one.

  155. I did HAVE to grow potatoes as a kid, but that’s not to say I actually DID it — mostly I’d get a weird sprout and then the potato would die a terrible, disgusting, moldy death. I’ve never been successful at actually growing the thing, toothpicks or otherwise.

    If you can figure out how to make Sam grow into a lovely large yam bush, let us know. I’d love to make it happen here (it’s hotter in Phoenix, but the general climate is similar to yours… in general).

  156. When I was a kid my father showed us the whole growing sweet potatoes experiment. He then planted the sweet potatoes in the front yard and forgot about them. Years later we dug some up and found one that was about the size of a watermelon.

  157. I used to HATE it when my mother would ask me to get her some potatoes out if the bag she kept under the kitchen sink. They were almost always sprouting eyes,looking green, and fet all damp and sweaty in my hands. So, like Squal Oooo rHouseGail at #221, I’m unfortunately more creeped out than charmed by Sam I Am. And then, there’s this interesting discovery. Plants know when they are being eaten and get defensive:
    I am always happy to read your posts, but this one seemed a bit Halloween/ Horror themed to me. And I could not sleep with that dreadlocked yam in my pantry.
    Please put it down the garbage disposal, I fear for your safety.

  158. I am all for anything that involves naming vegetables. Every fall I would buy a bunch of gourds and mini pumpkins and I’d name them all. Last year I bought this giant squash that looked like a goose and named it Abednego. I see nothing wrong with this. It was a pleasure meeting Sam I. Yam. Nice improvement with the googly eyes.

  159. I acutally made two of those accidental sweet potato plants recently myself! They’re really pretty, so I’ve decided to let them stay. My understanding is that you can either just plant the whole damn yam with those sprouts coming up out of the dirt, or you can pull of an individual sprout and suspend it in a little water at the bottom till it grows roots and then plant that.
    I have yet to do either, and just have some ornamental yam-plants on my kitchen counter. It’s like a houseplant in an edible pot. Pretty AND practical.

  160. I think it’s kind of beautiful. As your attorney, I suggest putting it in a terrarium with some red sand, a photo of a gibber plain and a few tribbles.

  161. we put googly eyes on ours in school. It was art class and not science but still. Oh and on a weird serious note (I promise never to do that again) there are certain places that are moving to hardier vegetable plants in their flower areas. The King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania grows purple and white cauliflower and broccoli plants in some of their flower beds so they look like small shrubs but take like a 10th of the work.

  162. When I was a kid, we had a big garden and kept potatoes on a screen door in the basement to keep it dry and cool. One time we found a perfect tiny potato, with clean tender skin, that had grown out of one of the potato’s eyes. It was connected by an umbilical tentacle to the old potato, which had collapsed into an oval of dust after giving its all to its baby potato. All I’m saying is, your yam will wither as your bush grows. ^^

  163. I need googly eyes! I have 3-4 small yukon gold potatos going on my kitchen counter right now! Thanks Jenny! Ross will love it (right after he screams in horror because he wasn’t expecting eyes staring at him in the kitchen)… 😉

  164. My dad, who is an excellent gardner, says I run a hospice for plants. I love you too, Daddy.

  165. I am going to get some googly eyes and put them on one of the mass spectrometers in the lab so we can DO SCIENCE RIGHT!

  166. there was no growing of potato plants in my parents house when I was a kid. you buy the potato, cook the potato, and then complain that you hate baked potatoes. end of story.

  167. My grandmother actually does grow sweet potatoes in the kitchen as a decorative plant, so I think you may be on to something here with your BYOB.

  168. I grow at least one yam a year. They are beautiful plants with long trailing vines and heart-shaped leaves that are sometimes purpleish. I’ve never had one flower (or harvested any yams) because our climate is too cold, but it is the easiest houseplant I’ve got. Enjoy! 🙂

  169. Thank you so much for google eyed yams. My postpartum depression is really kicking my butt today and I knew you’d have something to smile about. I am also sorry to read about Victor’s meemaw, I read that first. I loved the egg story.

  170. “that sounds suspiciously like a recipe and I think he’s just trying to trick me into accidentally cooking.” – I’m going to be thinking of this awesome quote often over the next few weeks (and laugh to myself every time).

  171. You can also stick toothpicks in the seed from an avacado set it in water to the toothpicks and it will grow a guacamole tree! And when I get home, I am gluing google eyes on everything.

  172. Hilarious! I have done this before (not on purpose and never as an experiment) but your transformation is much more genius than anything I would have come up with!

  173. I was crying over the meemaw post, and then I scrolled down, saw the yam, and laughed until I couldn’t breathe. I remember a time when I was about 11 when my mother bought a bag of potatoes, put it in a cupboard that we seldom used, and forgot all about it for lord knows how many months. When she finally opened the cupboard, there was one looooong root sticking out of the bag — at least three feet long! It looked as if it was trying to push open the cupboard door and escape.

  174. I’m dying laughing. omg. especially since I have one currently in my kitchen too. Wait…just went to go check on him and he seems to be gone. OH NO Mr Potato Head Ran Away!

  175. When my daughter was little and liked Veggie Tales, so she had a tomato and a cucumber stuffed toy, we had a Bosnian tell us, “We were poor, but we never had to play with vegetables.” Perhaps Victor and my Bosnian could be buddies.

  176. From the book “Don’t Throw It, Grow It!”: What It Looks Like The sweet potato is a vine that can cover a window in a short time. Its heart-shaped leaves resemble those of a morning glory, except the sweet potato leaves have lovely purple veins. The potato plant will last for months. (In the right pot this humble plant can look like a stylish caudiciform, which is a succulent treasured for its swollen trunk.) HOW TO GROW IT Because many sweet potatoes have been dried in kilns or treated to keep them from sprouting, you need to take some care in finding the right ones to plant. Look for a sweet potato that has some sign of life, such as some roots or little purple buds. Stick three toothpicks or bamboo skewers into the sides of the sweet potato about one-third of the way down from the top (the top is rounder in shape than the bottom). Set the potato in a tall, opaque jar of water with the toothpicks resting on the rim. Add water as it evaporates. A tablespoon of activated charcoal will keep the water sweet. (See Starting Plants in Water, page 7.) Set the jar on a windowsill in bright light, in a warm place. When the jar is full of roots you can transplant the potato to a pot large enough to hold the whole plant. Leave one-third of the potato above the soil. You will see a stem and leaf buds first, followed by flowers.

    Peterson, Deborah; Peterson, Deborah (2008-05-07). Don’t Throw It, Grow It!: 68 windowsill plants from kitchen scraps (pp. 40-41). Storey Publishing, LLC. Kindle Edition.

  177. I don’t know who you are, but we need to be friends! After searching my own curiosity of a sweet potato as a house plant, this came up and was the greatest by far!

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