Growing your own sweet potatoes can be a rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy fresh, nutritious produce straight from your own garden. Sweet potatoes are relatively easy to grow, and with the right care and attention, you can produce a bountiful harvest of delicious and healthy sweet potatoes.
I like to grow sweet potatoes in our garden when we have some leftover from the fall sales because they have so much nutrition to them that makes a great addition to our diets and there are so many great ways to cook sweet potatoes.
Choosing Your Sweet Potato Varieties
The first step in growing sweet potatoes is to choose the right varieties for your garden. There are many different types of sweet potatoes, each with its own unique flavor and texture. Some popular varieties include:
Beauregard: A popular and widely-grown variety that produces medium-sized, reddish-orange sweet potatoes with a sweet and moist flesh.
Covington: A newer variety that is highly resistant to disease and produces large, oblong sweet potatoes with a deep orange flesh.
Garnet: A classic variety that produces small to medium-sized sweet potatoes with a deep red skin and moist, sweet flesh.
Jewel: Another classic variety that produces large, sweet potatoes with a coppery skin and bright orange flesh.
Preparing Your Soil
Sweet potatoes prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. They grow best in a soil pH range of 5.5 to 6.5, so it’s a good idea to test your soil before planting. If your soil is too acidic, you can add lime to raise the pH.
Sweet potatoes also require plenty of nutrients to grow, so it’s important to prepare your soil by adding compost, aged manure, or other organic matter. You can also add a balanced fertilizer to your soil to give your sweet potato plants a boost.
Planting Your Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are usually grown from slips, which are small shoots that grow from the sweet potato itself. You can purchase sweet potato slips from a garden center or online, or you can create your own by sprouting sweet potatoes in water from sweet potatoes leftover form the fall.
To plant sweet potatoes, wait until the soil has warmed up to at least 60°F. Plant your sweet potato slips in loose, well-drained soil, making sure to bury the slips deep enough so that only the top leaves are above ground. Space your sweet potato plants about 12-18 inches apart, and water them well after planting.
Caring for Your Sweet Potato Plants
Once your sweet potatoes are planted, it’s important to care for them properly to ensure a healthy and bountiful harvest. Here are some tips for caring for your sweet potato plants:
Water regularly: Sweet potatoes need consistent moisture to grow properly, so make sure to water your plants regularly, especially during dry spells.
Fertilize regularly: Sweet potatoes require plenty of nutrients to grow, so fertilize your plants regularly with a balanced fertilizer.
Mulch,mulch, mulch Mulching around your sweet potato plants can help retain moisture in the soil and keep weeds under control.
Monitor for pests and diseases: Sweet potatoes can be susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases, so keep an eye out for any signs of trouble and take action promptly if you notice any problems.
Prune your sweet potato plants: As your sweet potato plants grow, they may produce more vines than you need. Prune back the vines to encourage the plant to focus on producing sweet potatoes.
Harvesting Your Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are typically ready to harvest about 100-120 days after planting, depending on the variety and growing conditions. To harvest your sweet potatoes, carefully dig them up using a fork or spade. Be careful not to damage the sweet potatoes, as they can be quite delicate.
After you’ve harvested your sweet potatoes, store them in a cool, dry place for a week or two to allow the skins to toughen up. Then, store them in a cool, dry place like a pantry or basement for up to several months.
Sweet potatoes are a nutritious and versatile vegetable that can be used in a wide variety of dishes, from baked sweet potatoes to sweet potato fries, casseroles, and more. By growing your own sweet potatoes, you can enjoy fresh, nutritious produce straight from your garden.
Growing sweet potatoes is a relatively easy and rewarding gardening project that can provide you with a bountiful harvest of delicious and healthy sweet potatoes. By choosing the right varieties, preparing your soil, planting your sweet potato slips, and caring for your plants properly, you can enjoy the many benefits of growing your own sweet potatoes. So why not give it a try and see how easy and fun it can be to grow your own sweet potatoes? Happy gardening!