By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Apr 03, 2008 at 1:37 PM

If things look a little greener around here this April, there's a good reason. Our editorial staff is busy expanding the ideals of Earth Day into a month-long celebration of energy conservation, alternative transportation, recycling tips and about a million ways you can be a better friend to the planet. Welcome to Green Month, Milwaukee.

Anyone else as anxious as I am to start your '08 vegetable garden? It finally seems as if Mother Nature has bestowed her final snow storm upon us ... then again, this is Milwaukee, and no month is ever truly 100 percent safe from a frost.

At the very least, April is a good time to plan for the season and potentially starting seedlings indoors, in greenhouses or under grow lights.

If you're like me, you have limited yard space allotted for planting, and, unfortunately, cannot grow every kind of vegetable you'd like to. It's time to make some decisions about which veggies, fruits, tubers and herbs will make the cut this year.

Of course, plant what you enjoy eating (and what will grow in our climate), but I just got some dirt on the sweet potato that just might push it to the top of my list. I've always likes the way they taste, but according to a study done by the nutritionists at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), sweet potatoes are incredibly good for you. In fact, they rank No. 1 in nutrition of all vegetables.

With a score of 184, the sweet potato outscored the next highest vegetable by more than 100 points. Points were given for content of dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars and complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Points were deducted for fat content (especially saturated fat), sodium, cholesterol, added refined sugars and caffeine.

Sweet potato, baked: 184
Potato, baked: 83
Spinach: 76
Kale: 55
Mixed vegetables: 52
Broccoli: 52
Winter squash, baked: 44
Brussels sprouts: 37
Cabbage, raw: 34
Green peas: 33
Carrot: 30
Okra: 30
Corn on the cob: 27
Tomato: 27
Green pepper: 26
Cauliflower: 25
Artichoke: 24
Romaine lettuce: 24

The sweet potato scored high with dietary fiber, naturally occurring sugars, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron and calcium. Not bad.

Although they're tropical vegetables, sweet potatoes actually grow well in the upper Midwest, as long as we go three months without a frost (fingers crossed). Want to give them a go? Here is everything you need to know to produce a successful harvest. Happy gardening. 

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”