Famous botanist George Washington Carver was known for his studies involving peanuts and nitrogen. However, he also researched sweet potatoes. He found uses beyond food to use sweet potatoes. Carver developed a way to use sweet potatoes to create a rubber compound, dyes used on clothing, medicines, ink, paint, and wood filler.1 He also did utilize sweet potatoes in recipes that can still be found on the web. He developed a recipe using sweet potatoes to taste like coconut. He had also developed a flour made out of sweet potatoes, which he used in many recipes as a wheat flour substitute. Perhaps one of his most intellectual uses for sweet potatoes was to use the sap from sweet potato to make syrup and molasses.2

It isn't all about peanuts. Potatoes and peas are also very affected by the nitrogen project and newer forms of fertilizer. Good fertilizers are very helpful when trying to plant either of these.3 Peanuts make peas and sweet potatoes grow much more effectively.4 Without this project, these plants would only be able to supply food a few months out of the year.5

George Washington Carver wanted to educate and aid poor farmers, children of those who used to be slaves, and land exhausted by plantation crops. Peanuts, soy, sweet potatoes, and peas were all included in his goal of giving farmers tools to revive their land and prosper.6 He wrote 44 agricultural bulletins to accomplish this goal; his bulletins began with notes on agricultural varieties and how to plant them with success, then moved on to dozens of recipes, including several for sweet potato pies.7 One recipe is listed below:

Sliced Sweet Potato Pie

Pastry for a 9-inch double-crust pie
4 medium sweet potatoes (about 3 pounds)
1/4 C Sugar
2 TB all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 TB cream, evaporated milk, or half-and-half
1/3 C molasses, sorghum, pure cane syrup, or honey
1/2 C hot water, reserved from the cooking liquid
3 TB cold butter


  1. Place the unpeeled sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Over high heat, bring to a full boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender enough to slice—15 to 30 minutes. You may need to remove smaller potatoes while larger ones finish. Remove to a plate when cooked.
  2. Line a 9” deep-dish pie plate and chill.
  3. Combine sugar, flour, and spices in a small bowl.
  4. Combine the molasses and hot water from the potatoes, then add your dairy of choice.
  5. When cool enough to handle, peel potatoes. Slice long ways, into planks, about 1/4” thick.
  6. Place two layers of sweet potatoes in the shell, spread about a third of the flour/spice mix, two more layers of potatoes, 1/3 of the mix, finish with two more layers—mounded toward the center, and the rest of the mix.
  7. Dot with butter and pour the molasses/water mix over the pie.
  8. Roll out top crust, cover, vent, and chill. While chilling, preheat the oven to 350˚.
  9. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the filling bubbles from the vents and the crust is nicely baked. Remove, cool to room temp, and enjoy!8

Sweet Potatoes and peas are healthy and you can make good foods out of them, there is also a lot of tips on how to grow them properly. Sweet potatoes and peas work well with the soil because they can harness the nitrogen and that helps growth.9 When growing peas you want to make sure you get healthy seeds, you also want to plant them in frost free growing conditions because they will grow better and more efficiently.10 One thing that is very helpful for growing both of these crops, the crop cycle, it heps keep the plants alive and healthy.11

While sweet potatoes and peas were ripe with potential, they unfortunately were not in high demand during George Carver’s time.12 However, his inventions still would come to be of high importance to the scientific community, and much more of a commonly-known meal in the future. When it comes to sweet potatoes, did you know that the term “sweet potatoes” only began to be used by American colonists following the 1740s to distinguish them from the Irish potato?13 Also, did you know that one serving of peas has as much of Vitamin C as two large-sized apples, surpasses the fiber of a slice of whole meal bread, and puts the thiamine amounts of a pint of a whole meal to shame?14

George Washington Carver was a former slave who became a brilliant scientist. Peas had become a distant thought. However George Washington Carver brought them back into the light. The cowpea has been around for about one hundred and fifty years in the Southern States. It is grown both for food, but mainly as a fertilizer for the soil.15

Cowpeas thrive in weak soil. They also thrive in hot, dry weather. Cowpeas are easy to maintain and they help fertilize the soil as they grow. Cowpeas are also high in nutrition. Cowpeas have 25% protein, plus other nutritious value.16