The hubby wants to grow sweet potatoes in the garden this year. I need all the info I can get on growing these things. Do they grow underground or on a vine? How much space do I need for them? How many should I plant? How do I start slips? Any and all help appreciated! :)
The plant is a vine (and a fairly large one), but the taters grow underground. Not tubers along the stem like irish potatoes, but true roots. So you just plant the slips; no hilling needed.
Loose earth will help come harvest time to prevent damage to your digging fork, the roots and yourself trying to get them out of the ground. Any I spear with my fork that can't get eaten right away get sliced and dehydrated as dog treats. The corgi *loves* 'em.
Spacing -- I would give at least 4x8' to a 6 pack of plants. And 6 slips will give you a pretty large number of potatoes. If you don't have beds, use big hills.
NicoleC, Thanks for the info, especially how many slips to plant in a 4x8 bed. I'm going to try SPs for the first time this year. I've started some slips from some delicious Beauregards I purchased last fall, grown by a local farmer. I just counted my rooted slips & I have 8 of them so I guess that's enough.
I'm going to prepare the bed with some extra loose topsoil. I've heard that SPs don't need extra fertile soil - so go lightly with the manure/compost. Is this your experience?
A really simple way is the old sweet potato in a jar of water stick 4 toothpicks in the tuber just so that at least 2/3 of the tater is in the water cut the very end off that is in the water ..i think that you would better off buying slips as it is pretty late in the year to be starting slips I also have about a dozen in a cold frame trying to get them sprouted in tiome to plant this year the Beauregard seems to be the choice of most pro growers it is a very good eating sweet potato
This sounded like a good idea to me also. But maybe I'll wait until next year, if we have warm weather earlier. I didn't realize they needed such a long growing season. I'm sure if I find something local I'll end up buying it. Wow, so much to learn.
I bought sweet potato slips for two or three years in a row from Georges Plant Farm, www.tatorman.com. They ship the slips in by postal service, but it seems to work okay. They grew really well, then I ended up losing the crops to some sort of insect larvae/worm. After discussing with the people at Georges, to get sweet potatoes I will have to do a fairly intensive program of pesticides. : (
I guess I will keep buying sweet potatoes at the store... Okay, changed my mind and ordered some slips of the Vardeman, bush type. I will see if I can grow the sweet potatoes in a different area.
David, It has been my experience that sweet potatoes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow.
I put organic fertilizer in several holes, stir it in thoroughly, set a slip into each hole, pull the soil around the slips, leave them alone for six months and harvest. I've never had to use pesticides.
My only problem has been with voles - and nothing deters them!
Has anyone had any luck growing sweet potatoes in a container? Thought I might try a very large nursery pot... the size that small trees and shrubs come in ... and some sort of trellis for the vines. Maybe 2 -3 slips per pot. All the premium spots in my garden are taken already and I really don't have a good spot in the sun unless I do containers. Dumb idea?
I have grown the sweet potato Blackie (ornamental) in a planter and it produced a large potato but due to it being an 0rnamental it was a pale bland eater last year I grew some Beauregard s in a planter and they produced a lot of roots but they were small ,It could be that it was planted to late in the season to do very good
We have grown SPs the past two years. I had ordered some slips the first year and hadn't realized that when they arrived they needed to be planted immediately, so I lost those. We went over to our local farm stand and picked up 50 slips of Maple Leaf and got an enormous crop. The potatoes were so sweet and flavorful that they barely needed butter at the table. Last year we tried it again in a different location, with only 25 plants, but those didn't do nearly as well and I don't think we cured them properly because they rotted in the basement before we had a chance to eat them. We'll try again this year. If you can find Maple Leaf (because the leaves look like those of a maple) I recommend them heartily.
I bake sweet potatoes at least once each week..I try and pick out ones that are close to the same size bake the large ones seperately from the smaller ones ,I bake at 450░ for the larger ones and @400░ for the smaller The higher heat carmelizes the sugar better This a diabetic friendly food plus I have 3 dogs that are crazy for sweet taters BUT last year I dehyde some for them and they would not touch them SPOILED my children would never have gotten away with that LOL
Honeybee here is a recipe for sweet tater pie ==1-1/2cup cooked sweet taters=1-1/2 cups of splenda= 3/4 cup of egg betters=1 stick of butter(melted) 1 tbs of vanilla 2/3 cuo of 1% milk I do the whole thing in a small food processor starting with the the egg/sugar or splenda BTW 1/4 cup of egg beaters= 1 egg place in regular pie shell or crust and bake at 350░ for 1 hour you can add whatever spices you like but I am allergic to cinnamon so just settle for the vanilla ,This is one desert DW can eat guilt free...you can also use a 1/2 stick of butter and not loose anything in taste or texture..I use the food processor as it gets out the lumps easy!!!!
To propagate, I first select healthy grocery store sweet potatoes that have started sprouting (usually because I waited too long to cook them). I fill a planter box to within a couple of inches from the top with clean, well-drained media. I put the whole potato on it's side on the media so that the end with the growing shoots has some open area around it (not up against the wall of the container). I then add enough moist fresh media so the bases of the shoots are about an inch or so deep.
In warm weather, the shoots will show definite signs of vigorous growth within a few days, and gently moving the soil aside you will see new roots forming along the length of each shoot.
When the shoots are a few inches long, I use my fingers to feel down to the point where they attach to the potato and gently break them off and lift them out. I then immediately put the newly removed shoots into another container of clean media and let them grow "a little", until I have enough of them to make it worthwhile putting them in the garden.
The only essential tricks are to start with disease-free stock and to make sure the media is warm. Aside from that there is no need to "baby" them; they really want to grow! This year I'm trying a purple-fleshed variety I got from a locally-owned grocery store.
What matters about how far ahead to start the slips is warmth Back in the day they were started in the fall and left in huge raised beds until spring ..Heat was provided by a layer of rotting manure UNDER the growing media ..The bed was covered by a top made of treated muslin semi transparent this was in the days before plastics
Grew mine in an 18-gallon Rubbermaid tub last season. If I had known to not let the vine spill over and trail down the fence, I probably would've gotten fatter sweeties.
All in all, it was an exciting and successful experiment that I will repeat this year.
P.S. My neighbor dug out a shovelful of vines from his patch that seems to come back annually. I separated the "roots" and planted little plugs in the potting mix in the tubs. There were sizeable holes drilled in the bottom and lower sides of the tub for drainage. I did encounter a new creature to my garden, though. A "wire" worm...
P.S.S. The holes were made by grasshoppers...beware!
Gymgirl - our winters are much too cold for sweet potatoes to overwinter in the ground. Once the first fall frost hits, they have to be raised immediately. I have to keep a close eye on the weather forecast from October 1st.
Tonight my garden class was all about propagating plants ..The star of our class is an 11 year old BTW today was her birthday she brought her tater in a jar and it had runners over a fool in lenght She kinda cringed when I cut off a runner and set it in a planting medium ,but she was the one wanted me to show her how to set it out..
HoneybeeNC wrote:rjogden - how far in advance of setting the slips in the garden should I put the mother potato in a planter box?
What grits said. It depends entirely on the temperature. In hot weather the shoots grow like weeds (which I suppose they are, somewhere). In chilly weather they can sit without seeming to do much of anything for days.
I'll probably plant my Beauregards this weekend, if I can ever get the raise bed finished with all the rain we've been having. I tried growing slips, but they looked kind of pathetic, so while at Home Depot, I spied a 6-pack of Beauregards from Bonnie for 2.99 and got them.
Gymgirl wrote:A word of warning. Don't add too much nitrogen to your planting medium, or you'll end up with lush growth and stunted tubers...
Linda, I knew about not adding too much nitrogen, but what about other nutrients? The LSU Ag Center has an excellent file on growing SPs at home, and they recommend an 8-24-24 fertilizer. As if I could find that! I'll look around for hopefully organic fertilizer that has something close to those numbers.
The tubers I have planted in my cold frame are coming on pretty good if we could just get out of this crazy yo-yo weather pattern ..I raised a lot of vines last year but the weather was so hot and dry the roots just didn't get big enough could be this hard rocky ground think I will put mine in a new raised bed
I think slips are pretty delicate; once they're gone they're gone. The first time we ordered some we didn't realize that they needed to be planted RIGHT AWAY, and by the time we opened the package all we had was a soggy mess - which is why we ended up buying Maple Leaf from the farmstand down the road. Couldn't believe how inexpensive they were, too.
I find it easier to order them rather than raise my own which goes great some years and not as good some other years. I got mine from Steele Plant Company and I get mine on May 17 or 18. This year it was May 18th and I was looking for them to arrive. I had my ridges all ready and left them in water overnite and they didn't miss a step.
Did I mention that the local cottontails love sweet potato slips? They chewed (and apparently ate) all my slips to the ground. Since then I've had about 8 of the slips recover and start putting on a few leaves. Of course, they are widely scattered in the area where I originally planted. I may try to move them while they are small... hopefully the rabbits have moved on. I do know that my dogs are catching (and eating) the small ones. I told my daughter-- "That's what dogs do. It isn't wrong or bad that they catch and kill things." That should at least help control future generations.
I may actually get some sweet potatoes after all! Since some of the plants regrew and some of the plants from last year volunteered new growth, I was able to transplant or recover 20 plants. Hopefully I will be able to keep the rabbits away...
OK you folks from the South, we up here can no longer get the ORANGE potato which I all my life have called Sweet Potato. We now can get RED, which I always called yams, and think they are watery. Now we get RED or WHITE. Don't know where the white came from, but I understand that you all grow the orange??
The most commonly grown sweet potato variety is Beauregard, I think. It is dark orange o the outside and bright orange on the inside. Sweet potatoes come in a variety of colors.
Sweet potatoes are not related to yams. Yams are African and much larger, not as sweet and usually white on the inside (although there are other colors, like purple.) Even though the sign at the grocery store may say "yams," it is unlikely you'll find them unless you are in an ethnic market catering to either African or Caribbean customers.
But people in the south call sweet potatoes "yams" all the time, too.
Agree: I don't know whether you are asking for skin color or flesh color. Orange fleshed sweet potatoes are the majority found in the super markets. Today Beauregard is the most popular, but you may also find Covington or Carolina Ruby all have red skins and deep orange flesh. Popular a few years ago were Centennial (Orange skin-orange flesh) and Jewel ( copper skin- orange flesh). Carvers have tannish sking and light orange flesh. At one time yellow fleshed varieties were popular and grown commercially in New Jersey and Maryland. These are drier than the orange flesh varieties, but to get them you will probably have to grow your own. Most readily available are Nancy Hall and O'Henry. Of course Sandhill Preservation has a vast array of varieties.
OK, do any of you know anything about the white skinned? I do not know the color of the flesh as I just got them yesterday and won't cook them until day before T'giving. I believe these are the easiest to grow in the North. Think they have replaced the bulk of the orange skinned in the markets up here. I am so sorry to lose the Orange skinned and flesh ones. Those were the best for years. But, will certainly try the whites for now.
Will let you all know how they turn out. Thanks for all of your information.
I raised a variety from Sand Hill that was called Ivis I believe...much better than White Triumph or Chokers. It was very smooth, uniform, and the tubers were on the smaller side. Only problem was that they lacked good sweetness and therefore they tasted like Irish potatoes.
We have had a super season for the Sweet taters up here in SE Oklahoma I don't reall have a good spot for them but the best spot in my yard was in the Hugelkulture bed I put in last winter the down side of the Hugelkulture bed was that I could not keep myself from adding plants as the seasons progress and I wound with an over crowded bed ...Note to self less is more..Yeah like that is gonna happen LOL
Mother Earth rewarded my first efforts to grow Sweet Potatoes with 91, from 6 slips! I bought "Ginseng" slips from Southern Exposure Seeds, and they are just FINE! Some are HUGE, all are bursting with incredible flavor. I've made four pies from the little ones so far...what a successful experiment. Can't image why I would ever stray from SSE now...
Gracye, what zone are you? I am thinking of trying them, there are a couple for short season varieties, and was curious about when do you order from the Southern Exposure Seeds. Do you place your order now for next spring? I couldn't find it on their site. Thanks
I am in Zone 7a. Southern Exposure tells you when you'll get delivery for your zone! They are new to me, about two years now, and I am just going through the whole growing year, this Spring. They have not come out with the 2014 offerings yet, I see.
They have some COOL things, like their growing advice/charts, and that garden planner...think I'll take the plunge with that planner.
Look around the site - you'll learn alot, and it'll make you feel more secure about your choices. It did for me, as I made a BIG STEP away from my father's ole selections, which are now mainly owned by Monsanto :(.
I have to add...right at this minute, I have 8 HUGE Sweet Potatoes roasting in the oven. I like to roast them in some oil, wrapped in heavy-duty aluminum, for 2 hours or more. They kinda carmelize this way.
Then I let them cool off, slip the paper-thin skins off, and mash and freeze them.
No problem having sweet potato pies or casseroles with the great crunchy oatmeal/pecan topping...and so healthy! What a joy, this gardening love of ours!
Gracye, that's a great way to preserve sweet potatoes if you don't think they'll last in the basement. I should try that. What's your recipe for sweet potato casserole with oatmeal/pecan topping? Sounds delicious!
Awe, you all flatter me. I just throw stuff together, like my grandmother did, and it turns out just fine!
Just get ye a cookbook from your church, or find one in an antique shop (that's the treasure trove of old local cookbooks!), and have at it!
You can take the recipe of some type of fruit crumble for your topping. Substitute away! I use ground pecan meal for part of the flour...
Then, look at what recipes call for when making puddings from scratch. Again, substitute away! Except for eggs. Get them organic, and from your local farm market if possible.
I have a secret for anything sweet potato, however. I use just a DASH, and I mean NO MORE, of organic black walnut flavoring. Oh my! Have fun!
Just ate one of those sweet potatoes I roasted. It has gotten sweeter! Can't touch it with spices or God forbid, sugar.
Since this is my first year of growing/harvesting, I am kinda winging it. I just believe in Murphy's Law, and would surely hate for my sweet potatoes to go bad after all that great growing and now bragging...lol!
Hello Jen, Black Walnut flavoring is VERY RARE. There are various types, though, when you DO find it. Amazon or eBay has it.
That pepper jelly is a great glaze on ham loaf, or baked ham...I am an artist, so life is FULL of experiments and substitutions! Enjoy!
Those sound like pretty long growing seasons Grits. When I looked at the Southern Seed Exchange, the only ones I think we could grow up here were in the oranges. Those are the ones we used to be able to buy up here. And I love them. Someone in the family here, and I am not going to mention any names, lol, like Bob, bought white ones. Can't remember who but someone on here said they taste like dry Irish potatoes. LOL, doesn't sound very appetizing does it? I cooked the ones that were more reddish, so guess I will have to eat the whites for Christmas.
The thing that really scared me about growing sweet potatoes is the harvesting, of all things! SESE (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange) said: "Cure by keeping them at 90 percent relative humidity and 85┬░F for seven to ten days. A furnace room or space heater can provide the right storage condition."
90% humidity? YIKES! THEN, 85%? DOUBLE YIKES!
Out of desperation, and not having any root cellar or basement (water table is way too high), my dear husband and I toted all 91 of those sweet potatoes upstairs to our attic. No other place to store them, honestly.
All is fine.
My uncle, who has gardened forever, says that, after the first frost, you should remove the vines, and leave them in the ground. And, he should know...next year, I'm going to try this with a couple of mine at least...he said that the death of the vine goes into the roots, which is NOT what we want.
They would freeze here. Now I used to do that in Seattle with my dahlias and it worked just fine. But they are a zone 8. Wouldn't that be nice? What zone did you say you are Gracye? How about a humidifier? And a space heater? In the bathroom? Now, wouldn't that work? For how many days?? LOL, not sure if you could go in there in that heat and wet. I wonder what that does for them. And then what do you do with them?
Gracye, I was put off by those instructions, too, because by the time the vines are yellowing the temperature is cooling down around here. But we just put ours in the greenhouse for about ten days, leaving the heater set so it would go on if the temperature dropped below fifty at night, and they cured well.
I am in Zone 7a. I look forward to the Spring, and all that the growing season brings. As for right now, I am off to Harper's Ferry West (by gawd) Virginia, where it probably is snowing!
I love Winter as well. Guess you could say that I get my love for the earth from my (ex-hippies alert!) earth sign, Taurus!
Bless you, one and all!
Gracye, hope you took your camera with you. You need to show us the places you go to. Places we have heard about, but never been to. Too far clear out here. Altho, I have been to Arlington, VA a few times, but always on business when we never have to time to sight see.
Do you get snow Gracye? I don't mind the snow, but just get tired of it after the 4th or 5th month. Sometimes our snowy winters last that long.