Sometimes when you expect to pull weeds, you pull up sweet potatoes instead. At least that’s what happened the other day when I took on the one area in my garden that still falls victim to an annual onslaught of weeds – the last frontier, as we call it. I had been dumping all of my garden trash there all year; branches, dead weeds, clippings, leaves and whatever else I was too lazy to take all the way to the compost pile at the other end of the sidewalk.

The side effect of throwing weeds on the dirt is that their seeds usually fall, sprout and multiply to start the cycle of needless work all over again. In any case, I’m either too lazy or busy to walk the extra several feet and throw them on an even bigger pile of weeds. But weeds weren’t the only ones making the voyage to the side yard. Volunteer herb seedlings pop up occasionally and hold their own against the aggressive invaders, only to be snatched up by this lazy gardener when he stumbles upon unexpected ingredients for a lemon basil martini. Sweet potato vines have been allowed to meander from the back yard along the fence to the side yard, where I’ve been more than happy enough to let them smother weeds with their wide and deep green leaves. I easily keep the sweet potato vines in check with a biweekly pass of the ride-on mower whenever they get out of hand. Fun fact: Did you know that sweet potato vines smell exactly like sweet potatoes when they’re hacked up into little pieces?

This is what the side yard looks like now. No weeds!

Thanks to ample groundcover plantings, there aren’t any weeds in the rest of my garden either.

There’s a reason that I’m rambling on about sweet potatoes and sideyards, so bear with me. Those of you who’ve kept up with my other ramblings here might recall that it’s the overgrown, trash dump of a sideyard that makes me want to avoid the garden altogether. Sometimes it’s the torpedo grass, while other times it’s the hordes of cutworms that seem to eat my vegetable garden overnight. I could call it laziness, but it’s different than the laziness that prevails over the rest of my life. Because the thought of that space seems to suck all the enthusiasm out of my heart, I tend to procrastinate and steer clear of the place whenever I go outside with my son. Besides, it’s hard to get much done when you’re constantly saying “Don’t touch that weird mushroom” or “Those empty mulch bags are not a toy!”

I can’t get my son to eat vegetables, but he happily gobbled up the peas he planted.

My son also planted these ‘Orange Troika’ nasturtiums. Even the leaves look great!

Well, the other day I found myself in the sideyard without a toddler in tow and decided to pull up a few of the dead weeds. I gave one of the vines a tug, and up came a sweet potato! I was so focused on the negative aspects of my garden that it never occurred to me that I might also have sweet potatoes hiding beneath the weeds. I started gently digging through the dirt with my bare hands to find more gems, and noticed that the soil had become much fluffier over the last couple of years. It was as if I was rummaging through black cookie crumbs! An entire armful of sweet potatoes later, I looked back at the side yard and was pleased to see that in my rush to boost those endorphins by pulling up potatoes, I had also cleaned up the mess of weeds. I still have a lot of work to do on the other side of the walk, but I look forward to it. Who knows what I’ll find tomorrow?

We’re big fans of kale and are excited to watch this new ‘Prizm’ hybrid grow up!

Here are a few of the sweet potatoes I pulled up. There’s treasure everywhere.