Growing sweet potatoes was the highlight of my fall garden!
I have another batch of sweet potatoes growing right now and I plan on continuing sweet potatoes until they won’t grow anymore.
How To Grow Sweet Potatoes
What seeds did I use?
None! Did you know that sweet potatoes don’t grow from seeds?! They’re started from “slips” which are shoots from grown sweet potatoes.
For my first season, I received starter plants from my gardening-partner-in-crime, Rhonda, who sprouted slips from organic sweet potatoes using this method. Here is a picture of a sweet potato slip ready to plant.
How did I plant the slips?
I knew before planting the slips that sweet potato plants spread like weeds and need their own space. For that reason, I picked the back corner of our yard to experiment. I laid down a sheet of weed block, like in the raised beds, and filled the space with this mushroom dirt mixture before adding 6 sweet potato slips to the back row of the bed.
After planting, I did absolutely nothing but watch the vines take over – no fertilizer, no pest control, nada.
How long did it take from slip to salad bowl?
You’re supposed to let sweet potatoes grow as long as you can until frost comes in (typically 4 months) or until the ends of the vines begin to turn yellow. We jumped the gun and harvested at 3.5 months to get them fresh for Thanksgiving. We did end up with a smaller batch, but nonetheless, they tasted great and we have a good idea of how to grow and harvest sweet potatoes in the future.
How do you harvest sweet potatoes?
This is the fun part! You gently pull up the vine using a gardening fork or shovel and try to avoid damaging any of the root vegetables. After a few careful digs, we opted for the more primitive approach of using our hands.
As soon as we started to dig in the dirt, we uncovered dozens of sweet potatoes! The ground was FULL of them. It was a great experience for the kids to unearth these sweet potatoes in all different shapes and sizes.
Doesn’t that sweet potato look delish?
But DON’T WASH the sweet potatoes just yet. They still need to cure before eating.
How do you cure sweet potatoes?
Here’s another important trick to growing sweet potatoes – they need to “cure” to become sweet. There is a lot of information on the web about proper curing length and conditions to maximize sweetness. Since we have a humid climate, I stored my unwashed sweet potatoes in a brown paper bag on the garage shelf for two weeks.
How do you prepare the sweet potatoes to eat?
After they cured, I washed them with water and rubbed off the dirt with a small towel. My favorite way to eat sweet potatoes is roasted in the oven with olive oil, salt and pepper. Yum!
Jane’s Sweet Potato Review
Gardening skill level: Easy
Seeds: Organic slips
Garden space & soil: Partial sun, mushroom dirt mixture
Pest control: None
Seed to salad bowl (growth): 4 – 5 months
Have you ever grown sweet potatoes? Let me know in the comments below.
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