This root crop has hundreds of varieties, some bred for their showy vines and others for the tasty potatoes (Fig. Don't let them get too hot, but they don't mind being very warm. In either case, it’s time to dig your sweet potatoes! It takes 100 to 140 days for sweet potatoes to grow harvestable tubers, depending on the variety. A ‘Georgia Jet’ sweet potato blossom. Cover with dirt & water good. In Texas, the most common food varieties planted are Beauregard, Centennial, Jewell, and Vardaman; the most popular is Beauregard. The Japenese grow them this way too.I was told by another man, he grows them in piles of leaves?!?! 5. A sweet potato doesn’t reach its flavor potential until it has been cured and then stored for a few months. Sweet potato plants are, in most respects, undemanding. It would be both Humid and Hot, or should they be kept in the dark? 4. At the cool temperature of your refrigerator (or in a supermarket cold room, where fresh fruit and vegetables, including sweet potatoes, are stored), a sweet potato will “shiver,” and in less than a day, the once living, breathing, healthy sweet potato will turn into a corpse. These plants are rather low maintenance and are undemanding of soil type and require little additional nutrients through out its growth cycle. We’ll publish the information in an upcoming issue. The last month that you can plant sweet potatos and expect a good harvest is probably September.You probably don't want to wait any later than that or else your sweet potatos may not have a chance to really do well. A broadfork is a great tool for digging potatoes. Without curing, the sweet potato will only last a month or two in storage. In order to grow sweet potatoes in the North (Zones 3 to 5), you can’t wait until July — you must make full use of June by warming up the soil. Excessive rain and flooding will slow them down, but won’t necessarily harm them. While for most growers the main event comes in fall, you can cut and enjoy spicy, tender sweet potato greens during summer. Whether you live in zone 9 or below, or way up in zone 4, you can learn about growing sweet potatoes and enjoy this nutritious treat within your own little homestead. Tubers grow underground from the vine’s central shoot. If you have grown sweet potatoes before, save a few for seedlings. One of the easiest ways to create multi-seasonal interest in the garden is to use plants with interesting foliage. What a wonderful article on sweet potatoes. This gets LOTS of taters going without the rooting slips first mess. Each ’tater truth by itself, if neglected, is sufficient to reduce flavor. The simplest and most effective way to warm the soil is to cover it with a sheet of clear plastic. To create sprouts, carefully wash your potatoes and cut them either in half or in large sections. It comes from New Zealand, where it’s sometimes referred to as ‘Golden Kumara.’. Soil Requirements. The earliest that you can plant sweet potatos in Zone 6b is April.However, you really should wait until May if you don't want to take any chances.. Like to read more content, Join the Mother Earth News Community Today! How to plant. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. Planted sweet potatoes here in Central Florida for the first time last year. Your refrigerator is probably set to a few degrees above freezing, which is a good temperature for carrots, apples and most juices, but not so good for tomatoes, bananas and especially sweet potatoes. But for me, the most important consideration is flavor, and I’ve found no variety that is far superior to any other. My slips are in the ground and are getting started, but it's going to … At frost I will dig and cure them although I am thinking about leaving some in the ground for storage under a covering of hay. Both edible and ornamental varieties of sweet potato grow quite well in large pots. Keep your curing space at 80 to 90 percent humidity for best results. We will be putting the best ones in the nursery - hilled up rows in the garden. The room is on the SE side of the house and gets full sun in the afternoon, so it gets pretty warm (no AC in our house). If you want a really big harvest (I harvested 5 ea 5 gallon bucket fulls from 12 slips set out.) I lived in New Zealand 30 years ago and loved this veg, but iv not seen or heard of the kiwi variety here, seemingly it comes from Polynesia ... From my research it’s called an Onikawa sweet potato, we just called them kumera They have a red skin with a creamy to yellow white flesh inside & purple veins running through the flesh from end to end & they don’t taste nothing like the purple or golden ones that we can purchase here in Oz any help I’d be great full ❤️. Ken Allan, author of Sweet Potatoes for the Home Garden, has been growing vegetables in Canada for 37 years. Sweet Potatoes are one of the easiest and most popular crops to grow in Zone 9 during the warmer months of summer. at a time) over the new vines as they grow without covering the growing tip. If you only loosely apply the plastic, the moisture under it will turn into hot vapor that will then flow out from under the plastic, causing the soil to lose heat and moisture. Slips are baby plants that sprout from a mature sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are easy to grow but they do need a few things to grow really well. Sign in with your online account. Keep the vines cut back to encourage tater growth. To create the perfect environment, create long, wide, 10-inch-high ridges spaced 3½ feet apart. If your ‘Georgia Jet’ did blossom, please write to us at [email protected] and tell us the source of your stock. Each sweet potato can produce up to 50 slip sprouts. Zones 2a through 6b – Plant your potatoes in April and May. Whether you decide to plant in beds or in grow bags, choose a spot that provides full-sunlight for most of the day. Plus, it is easy to do. If you’d like to use a vine cutting, cut any sections from a long vine into 1-foot lengths, stand them up in a glass of water for two days to initiate rooting, and then plant them 1 to 2 feet apart with half their length below ground, half above. 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Washing immediately after you harvest has the benefit of leaving garden soil in the garden, where it belongs (soil has sand in it, which will eventually plug your drains). To cure them could you simply use the clear plastic to wrap them up and then put them in the sun? For a long time, prime real estate in his garden went to the vegetables that are clearly better than their commercial equivalents, such as shell peas and tomatoes. account? We have them in metal crates w/lots of air circulation. Especially in Zone 3-2b, our growing season is extremely short, with 90-100 frost-free days. It does not hurt the vine which will continue to produce more potatoes in the space made by pulling one up. That is if you have no other way to control the temp. Never store them in a sealed plastic bag — the gases from their respiration will build up and the potatoes will eventually poison themselves. We don't put taters in water for slips. and learning about sweet potatoes since the mid-1980s, when my friend, Suzanne Mason, who lives in South Carolina in the winter, brought me a half-bushel of cured sweet potatoes. Growing temperature is the only environmental factor that can’t be ignored — sweet potatoes like it hot! (Regular potatoes belong to the nightshade family). They are laid in trenches cut into the hilled up rows in the main tater bed - leave just the tips sticking out. When to Plant Sweet Potato Vine. I am very new to gardening and would like to have some guidance on how to prepare the soil for sweet potatoes and other veg's. Most of the time, the sweet potato plant is planted in the spring. When you dig them, they’ll be firm and appear indestructible — they’re not! Sweet potatoes do great in the zone 8 of North Carolina, but I do believe that North Carolina is a tad warmer than Germany in the summer. And that is what sweet potatoes love -- hot and humid. You say that sweet taters' metabolism decreases and stops in cool temps. After curing, you can leave a sweet potato on the kitchen counter for several months without noticeable moisture loss. (A 10-foot row will produce 8 to 10 pounds of potatoes.) I think of them as the Real ‘Georgia Jet’ and the Impostor. The official name for this cause of death is “chilling injury,” and it’s thought to be the result of a change in metabolism that causes cell walls to no longer have proper control of what comes in and goes out. Canadian Subscribers - Click Here Royal purple tubers grow long and thin without becoming rootbound. photo of a ‘Georgia Jet’ sweet potato blossom. Keep the info coming, please. Thank you for the great information. Every place there is a node, taters will grow. I am growing sweet potatoes in burlap sacks and had a good crop last year and hope for another good year.My ground is so hard this seemed like a good way. The resulting sprouts are what you’ll plant outdoors, not the tuber. Does a sweet tater need to be kept at a constant temperature during the soak cycle to develop slips? Look for clear builder’s plastic (used as a vapor barrier) that’s about 8 1/2 feet wide. Placing heavy objects on the edge of the plastic here and there down the length of the row is good for a start, but it won’t be sufficient. On the other hand, when opaque plastic gets hot, only a fraction of the heat is transmitted to the soil, and the rest just radiates back into the air above. Unfortunately, two quite different varieties are using that name. Tubers vary from creamy-yellow to light brown to deep red-orange in color and from 4 or 5 inches (10-12cm) to 8 inches (20cm) or more in length. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only). Don't bruise them. Builder’s plastic comes in heavy, medium and light grades. Growing sweet potatoes — a great storage crop for those looking to be food self-sufficient — is simple in many climates if you follow our tips. Let them grow. The sweet potato is … Use a broadfork to easily dig your sweet potatoes in fall. Is there a minimum temperature range to keep sweet taters above during storage if you want to soak 'em for slips later on? I’ve been growing (in Canada!) Soak your slips with warm water immediately after planting them. The easiest way to grow lots of sweet potato slips is by submerging the sweet potato in a cup full of water. Will they produce more by planting like white potatoes? Plant the slip through the slit, and water well. Next, cure them, store them, and wait a month or more for them to turn into the best sweet potatoes you’ve ever tasted. Sweet potatoes are tropical plants and the storage roots (tubers) start to “shiver” at 50 degrees. I thought I knew sweet potatoes, but I never imagined they could be this good! To start your slips, you need several healthy, clean sweet potatoes. The earliest that you can plant sweet potatos in Zone 9a is March.However, you really should wait until April if you don't want to take any chances.. The first is well dug, compost rich soil, and they need drainage. This will seal the slit, and the depression will ensure that, when it rains, water will run into the bed at the base of each plant. Of those, if you are growing outside count on about 80 days or less where the untouched soil is warm enough for roots. The two last potatoes were saved for slips and I now have 15 in the greenhouse. To grow your own sweet potato slips from tubers, first place the tubers in water in early spring. You will have to start growing the slips at least 3 months before you want to plant them. The one season in which it’s generally not advisable to plant sweet potato vines is the winter. I wondered whether Suzanne’s grower in South Carolina had a secret. They will not go in the ground until June as the weather is too inconsistent. They were incredibly sweet and delicious. 4) and store them at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you don’t need to cover sweet potatoes at all during storage (unless rodents could access them). Best Of Mother Earth News: Gardening Made Easy E-Book, How To Build A Pond For Food And Fun E-Handbook, Natural Cold Storage: Fresh Food in Winter, Keeping Crops Cool During Hot Weather: 13 Ways to Beat the Heat, Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price. Unlike the standard potato, which is grown from tubers, sweet potato crops are started from “slips.” To create a slip, a sweet potato tuber is planted indoors or in a greenhouse — or stood up in a glass of water — to produce sprouts. Generally, sweet potatoes need a long and hot growing season, at least four months. However, in my opinion, capturing the heat of the sun under clear plastic is one of the most worthwhile uses we can make of that resource. In the North, cover the raised rows with black plastic to keep t… You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. And, yes, you can produce slips from the previous harvest. Sweet potatoes are more nutritious and store better than any other root crop — they’re easy for home gardeners to keep for a full year. This year I planded a few in the middle of a 30 ft long raised bed and the vines have reached the end of the beds and when they do, I guide them in a U turn back down the bed. Duh! Over the years, I’ve grown about 40 sweet potato varieties. Eat sweet potatoes when they’re new if you must, but don’t judge them until after New Year’s Day. It’s important that the plastic, like the bottom sheet on a bed, be pulled taut and tucked in. With regards, Victor The Newbie. Sweet potatoes need a loamy soil with a pH between 5.0-6.5. If your area gets hotter than 95, plant your potatoes so they have long enough to mature before the heat hits. Roots will form quickly. I think using clear plastic makes a lot of sense in our climate. This is an ideal width for slightly raised, 2-foot-wide beds. I would remove the plastic as soon as the vines start running because at every node the vines send down roots and they will make more potatoes on each of these roots. A slip can be a sprout directly from the sweet potato (see photo), or it can be a vine cutting from an already established sweet potato plant. We put our's in the metal crates next to the woodstove to "cure" & that's where they stay. Keep the weeds down. You can follow the process above and then plant the tuber in the ground or you can grow sweet potatoes from a seedling. Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST). For now, feel free to continue reading. Sweet potatoes do best in sunny locations with regular rain or irrigation, but will mark time during a period of drought and then carry on when the rain returns. An ideal staple crop for those seeking to meet most of their food needs with homegrown produce would be nutrient-dense, offer high yields, and have excellent flavor and storage qualities. We haven't dug them up yet, but they're blooming so they must be authentic. This nutritious, easy-to-store crop is one of the best staples for anyone looking to be food self-sufficient. That is, until Ken realized he could grow sweet potatoes in the North! What would that temperature range be? Making your own sweet potato slips is simple: Sprouts will grow from a tuber stood upright in a glass of water. A crop that fits this bill perfectly? Last year I harvested sweet potatoes up to 30 feet away from where I planted the slips. 1). That is the only way our forefathers had to do it. Prepping the garden this year, I found more little sweet potatoes from last year and replanted them in a new patch. When the sprouts form, break them off and plant them directly in the garden. Planting Dates For Potatoes By Zone. Do not toss or drop sweet potatoes into storage containers. As your plants grow, you can harvest and eat the tender sweet potato vine tips. Or find an organic sweet potato you like in your local store. After a few months in storage, that tiny bruise can turn into a large, rotten spot, which often ruins the entire potato. My first harvested sweet potato looked like and as big as a fetus! My horse loved them as treats. This is a very undemanding crop to grow; sweet potatoes are drought- and heat-tolerant and have few pests or diseases. In Canada and the northern United States, June is the month with the longest, sunniest days, and although it’s an excellent growing month for crops that do well in 60-degree soil, it’s not so good for sweet potatoes — unless you get proactive. Just be aware that excessive harvesting of the greens will delay tuber growth and decrease yields. Sweet potatoes should not be planted outdoors until the temperature of the soil has warmed to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re interested in growing sweet potato slips to use as houseplants or to plant in your garden to grow new sweet potatoes, here’s what you’ll need: Sweet potato. You can order slips from mail-order suppliers, buy them at a garden center or grow your own. (i.e. The sweet potatoes you grow for tubers in the north will not be the same ones you grow in the southern climates. I used this method in the Pacific NW last year and was able to produce some very good sized sweet potatoes. This climbing vine will scale a trellis or grow as a ground cover. This article gives me hope to have these all year round. Think creatively about available spaces — a large closet with a 100-watt light bulb, a bathroom with an independent thermostat, or even a spare bedroom with a small electric heater. In fact, as long as you take care with the curing process (see fact No. At MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. The tropical sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) requires the warmth of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 and 10 to prosper. When there is a good amount of vines/slips, we cut the ones that are about 2 feet long. Place each section in a jar or glass of water with half of the potato below the water and half above. The Real ‘Georgia Jet’ is the main commercial variety in Israel and the most popular variety among gardeners in Canada. The Impostor is widely grown in the United States, and while its flavor is excellent, the variety has a reputation for poor yields and cracking. Attention Northerners: This inconspicuous clear plastic mulch is your key to growing great sweet potatoes. Living in South Africa we have plenty of sweet potatoes, but are short lived in the shops. If you live in cooler climates you might still be able to grow sweet potatoes … Hi, thanks for stopping by. How to grow sweet potato slips. Stay tuned for the first newsletter in the morning, straight to your inbox. Sweet potatoes are surprisingly easy to grow in different regions of North America and, if properly cured, they have quite a memorable flavor. Cutting it down the middle will make two sheets, each just more than 4 feet wide. Some gardeners cite weeds as a reason for not using clear plastic mulch. I can't wait to try growing sweet potatoes in Tacoma, Wa! Will they be able to revive and produce slips or do they become effectively dead? If you want to try something different, consider growing ‘Toka Toka Gold,’ a yellow-fleshed variety that’s drier, smoother, denser and milder than most. Some gardeners are uneasy about using plastic in the garden because it’s manufactured from a nonrenewable resource. They prefer light, sandy soil, but will tolerate heavy clay. I’ve found significant differences in color, texture, growth habits, yield and time to harvest. 1. I already have gone out to the part of the bed where I planted the original slips and dug down with my hands until I feel a tuber where i dig around the tater and pull them up as needed to eat. Deep purple stems sprout leaves of dark green tinged with an aubergine hue. I tried getting a sweet tater to sprout slips last spring but it didnt produce anything. Plastic fit snugly on the bed with no vents to allow hot air to escape will create an environment too hot and too confined for weeds. They need soil growing temperatures between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and an air growing temperature of 65 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. I have a couple Questions. Having just signed up to this site, I am already finding loads of great tips. Im not new to gardening but am new to growing sweet potatoes. Temperatures above 70 degrees, as with grades, are conditions that allow growth: slow at 70 degrees, good at 80 degrees, very good at 90 degrees and excellent at 100 degrees. Register now to get access to ALL current video workshops and prerecorded webinars plus anything new that we add through the end of 2020. I recommend starting at least two or three at the same time, as … Some sweet potatoes looked like string beans. Sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas), named for its edible cousin, is an ornamental warm-season annual grown for its attractive leaves and vining habit.The foliage lends a tropical feel to the garden and comes in a range of colors and varying forms. I now know that the matter is a bit more complicated than one simple secret. Place sand or fine gravel around the plant to cover the slit and to weigh the plastic down into the depression in the bed. The slips will grow fast and develop roots. The sweet potato is a tender vining or semi-erect perennial plant grown for its swollen fleshy tuber, similar to an elongated potato. then spread about 2" deep compost (1 in. After digging, gently wash your tubers on the same day. ‘Beauregard,’ the main commercial variety, is a good producer, has good flavor, stores well, has compact vines, and its tubers tend to grow close to the stem. The last month that you can plant sweet potatos and expect a good harvest is probably August.If you wait any later than that and your sweet potatos may not have a chance to grow to maturity. International Subscribers - Click Here 3. So take the plastic up if you want a 10 fold crop. Already a Member? I live on a small non working farm of 98 hectares(200 acres), with 12 hec's arable, the rest is mountain fynbos, now I want to start living off the land. Sixty percent, give or take a few percentage points, is an acceptable mark for a student not planning for higher education — and at about 60 degrees, the metabolism of the sweet potato slows to near zero, meaning it won’t grow. If your ‘Georgia Jet’ is flowerless, you’ve been growing the Imposter! Lay the plastic on the bed so that 1 foot remains on each side, then pull the plastic snug and bury the 1-foot edges down the length of the bed. While you could grow sweet potatoes slips yourself, it is always a good idea to start out with certified disease-free plants or vine cuttings from a reputable garden supply. 2. Harvest time! The taters I have right now are from last October & still edible. There are several critical temperatures for sweet potatoes, and I keep these temperatures straight by likening them to an old-fashioned report card. If you were thinking black plastic when I said soil warming, you may have skipped right over the word “clear.” Yes, clear plastic. There must be a secret, or I wouldn’t have gone my entire life without coming across this superb flavor. Even the nursery bed will produce lots of taters. The sweet potato. Sweet potatoes need to be cured, starting on harvest day. A drop that is sufficient to crack an egg is sufficient to produce a tiny bruise on a sweet potato. When fall arrives, your sweet potatoes will not “mature” — they will just slow down and eventually stop growing when the soil temperature drops below 55 degrees or the vines get hit by frost. Growing your own sweet potato slips is way better than ordering them in. Sweet potatoes will grow in poor soil, but deformed roots may develop in heavy clay or long and stringy in sandy dirt. Growing ‘Okinawan’ sweet potatoes in U.S. climates can be done, but the variety was specifically bred for the weather that is consistent of the islands such as Okinawa and Hawaii. To cure them, keep your sweet potatoes at 85 to 90 degrees for five days. you leave the clear plastic down the whole growing season? don't have an online Use toothpicks to hold the potato in place (Image 1). Already a Member but The sweet potato is a large, sweet-tasting root of the morning glory family. It will remain a good-looking corpse for a few days, but will then develop pockmarks and a hard core. I have 2 crates in my living room right now - the taters are sprouting like crazy all on their own. At 64 I am not able to grow big time, only enough to live on. I wash using just the spray from a hose, but you can also use a pail of water, wiping lightly with a rag or soft brush. Cover if the room gets too cold when the stove is not burning. Have any of you found a reputable supplier for the "real" Georgia Jet? Can you product slips from tubers you harvested the prior year? Do you take the plastic off or leave it on until Harvest? Both types grow best in sunny conditions, but if you want to grow the garden varieties that produce edible tubers, it will take quite a long growing season. Holy sweet potato! Providing proper curing conditions for five days may require some planning in advance. ‘Georgia Jet’ is the most reliable variety for northern climates. The sweet potato is suitable for growing in zones 3-11 as an annual, and zones 8-11 as a perennial. Paper bags or boxes are good for storage, or throw plastic tarps loosely over your crates of sweet potatoes. Southern growers can wait until the soil warms up and still have time to grow a good crop of sweet potatoes. If you’re using clear plastic to grow sweet potatoes in a northern climate, you’ll have a couple extra steps when it’s time to plant your slips: Cut an 8-inch slit in the plastic, and press the soil down to make a shallow, bowl-shaped depression (1 foot in diameter) centered on the slit. Here in the South (zone 7b) I plant them in the middle of May and harvest sweet potatoes in the middle of October. Work in plenty of compost, avoiding nitrogen-rich fertilizers that produce lush vines and stunted tubes. Able to grow in zones 4-12, this large size sweet potato can adapt to a wide range of soils including loamy, sandy, and clay. If weeds survive under your clear plastic, though, it’s a sign you did something wrong. You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues. With a deep orange flesh and copper skin, these are probably what comes to mind when you imagine this vegetable. There are five facts about sweet potatoes that may seem like they’re secrets — because a sweet potato rarely makes the trip from field to dinner table without one or more of these facts being ignored — but none of them is optional if you want truly great sweet potatoes. we heat with wood so the house is hot and dry or cold and humid unless its summertime. Because of chilling injury, a soil temperature below 50 degrees (50 percent) is a failure, and 50 to 55 degrees is dangerously close to the failure mark. Follow our tips, and you, too, could harvest potatoes that are as wide as a child. Curing also initiates flavor development. Our Georgia Jets were ordered online from Steele Plant Company. Starting sweet potatoes. I cured the sweet potatoes in the back room where I was running the food dryer. Sweet potatoes are typically started from transplants called "slips." And while many people think of them as a Southern crop, you can in fact easily grow sweet potatoes in northern climates. If you thought you’d been growing the Real ‘Georgia Jet’ but are now in doubt, telling the difference is easy: The Real ‘Georgia Jet’ blossoms, and the Impostor doesn’t (see a photo of a ‘Georgia Jet’ sweet potato blossom). hilling up?). Once your sweet potatoes have sprouted, you have to separate them i… A newly dug sweet potato is virtually tasteless — it’s definitely not a treat! Disclosure. What if the taters get cold during the winter during storage? Ubiquitous throughout North Carolina, Jewel sweet potatoes are another dependable and delicious crop. Flavor depends much more on curing, storage and method of cooking than on the variety you grow. However, depending on your growing zone, it can be planted at other times of year. When fall arrives, take care to cure your sweet potatoes properly, and you’ll be blown away by their superb sweetness. I'm only sorry I didn't receive it a month ago--no more room in the garden now. They respond well to rich soil, but can do surprisingly well in soil of low fertility. Zone 7b – Plant from January through March. They'll wilt & look dead at first, then perk up & grow like crazy. My neighbor from China likes to grow sweet potatoes mainly for their vine tips. During this time, the sweet potato will grow a second skin, which is an incredibly effective seal. It is noted by professional sweet potato growers that it doesn’t prefer the conditions of the mainland. Sweet potato vine grows as a perennial in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. About 90 percent of the energy from the sun goes through clear plastic, where it’s then absorbed by the soil and trapped there by the greenhouse effect. Zone 7a – Plant from January through March and again in August for a fall crop. Light is the best for warming up soil because it lies tighter on the bed. in your house. As a tropical plant, it prefers warmer temperatures. Also, clean sweet potatoes are nicer to handle and easier to inspect. Would like to see more detailed information on planting or growing tips. Great article! We had a very wet cool summer last year, so I am hoping to do better this year. Sweet potatoes are alive and they breathe.