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.
I was just thinking about giving these a try too. Can the slips be bought locally?
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?
You also can start your own slips from a sweet potato and with the weather this spring, probably still have time to do so. They need warm soil and we aren't there yet. lol
Willhite Seed here in TX also sells them. http://www.willhiteseed.com/search.php?pg=1&stext=sweet+potato&sprice=&stype=&scat=
I grew the tops/vines up one of those bean stringy trellis things one can string up between t-posts. It helped on space and the sweet potatoes seemed to do fine.
My two corgi will not wait for the dehydrator. The little stinkers. Willhites is where I get mine.
Terri is right, if you use a trellis or anything to get the vines to grow up instead of spread out on the ground you will have room for more s.ps or something else in your beds. Fred
My two corgi will not wait for the dehydrator.
Last year I missed one (well, probably several in reality.) The other day she was in the garden with her face sideways in the dirt trying to eat her way down to the one underground.
My corgi knows the garden is for food, unfortunately, and feels free to take samples. Big cabbage leaves in particular have been getting shredded this winter as they are right at nose height.
"What, you get to pick peas, but I don't?!"
What varieties do best here in Texas? I'm not sure I need 36 slips! LOL Wonder if the sweet potatoes out in my sunroom are still alive??? How do I start my own slips?
stephanietx, I would think any of the varieties listed on Willhite's: http://www.willhiteseed.com/products.php?cat=97
or on Souther Exposure's site: http://www.southernexposure.com/sweet-potatoes-c-229.html?zenid=nn62ml6821ec2hqn4s6j2hvtv5
Corgis (not really the way you spell plural for Corgi, but I can't remember what that is) are soooo cute. Mine love tomatoes. Dogs aren't supposed to like tomatoes. What the heck?
You can find interesting advice about growing sweet potatoes at the Southern Exposure Seeds website.
I bought the "Ginseng" variety as a novelty - I grow something different (for me) every year.
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
My favorite sweetpotato is a sport of Beauregard...O'Henry. This is a very smooth light golden one.
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.
This message was edited Apr 16, 2013 8:31 PM
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!
Honeybee, my sweetpotatoes have grown really well, but they were literally eaten up by some sort of tiny white worm. :(
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.
Cooked sweet potatoes freeze well. I put as many as I can in a 350 oven and check on them frequently, pulling each one out as it finishes cooking.
Let them cool completely, then slice into one-inch thick slices. Place them in a single layer into freezer bags, and freeze.
When you want some to eat, remove as many as you want from a freezer bag an let them defrost. I like to sauté the slices in butter until they are nicely browned on both sides.
That sounds like a great idea, Honeybee!
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
grits - I, too, am a T2 diabetic, which is one reason why we eat sweet potatoes. My little dog loves sweet potatoes, too. She's not fussy as to whether they are dried or not.
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!!!!
This has probably already been posted, but...
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.
This message was edited Apr 22, 2013 5:32 PM
grits - thanks for the recipe. :)
rjogden - how far in advance of setting the slips in the garden should I put the mother potato in a planter box?
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!
This message was edited Apr 24, 2013 4:27 PM
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..
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.
Planted 30 slips of Vardeman bush sweet potatoes today. We'll see how they do!
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.
This is my first try at raising SPs also.