Planting sweet potatoes are not only one step towards growing an edible garden but Sweet potatoes are a source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber for a healthy diet. Add natural composts and non-GM plants and you get a great organic diet. The best thing is that you can grow sweet potatoes not only in beds but also in containers. Suitable containers for potatoes also work for sweet potatoes. You can easily grow sweet potatoes anywhere there is ample sunshine.
Steps on Growing Sweet Potatoes in your garden
1. Choose well-balanced soil ridges
You would need well-balanced soil, you can use this soil mixing guide. You will then need to create long, wide ridges, like a foot long with 4-inch gaps in your soil bed. You can also use long grow bags or planter that is long and wide. You could make a single row in a planter. Make sure the planter is well ventilated. You can read more about preparing planters here. Usually, 10 of these 1-foot planters will yield 10 to 12 pounds of sweet potatoes. You could space your planting in order to get staggered output so you can harvest this over a longer period. This will make it easy to consume.
2. Place the Sweet Potatoe planters in the sun
Sweet potatoes grow best in the sun. That being said, you would need to conserve moisture. you can use plastic or cellophane covering for the soil after planting and watering to save water and air germination. You could go vertical with the planting pattern. However, keep the vertical gap to one foot. This will allow you to manage the vines easily. If you get a lot of rain, you need to choose a place that can be covered by an awning or a similar arrangement while still getting the sun. This is because you would want to avoid overwatering.
3. Planting Sweet potatoes
Try to source organic Sweet Potatoe bulbs. When you get the roots, place the roots in a moist gunny bag or sawdust or a comparable medium. Keep these roots for priming in a warm location. When shoots will sprout and when they are about 9 inches, cut the bottom inch of the roots to remove possible disease build-up.
Sweet potatoes will mature in 3 to 5 months and are sensitive to cold. You should plant them in sun. Plant when winters have ended and it’s been a month. You should make 6inch deep holes and a foot apart. Bury the Sweet potato saplings or seed bulbs. Press the soil only gently and do not make it hard.
4. Caring for the Sweet potatoes
Taking care of the Sweet potatoes is relatively easy. Make sure in dry weather you water a week or 10 days before you know it’s time to harvest. Overwatering may rot the crop so take care not to. The crop is also susceptible to some pests. Sweet potato weevils would eat away and breed inside the Potatoes and also spread rot. Their larva further feeds on roots and soft parts of the plants. They are quite prolific and it’s important to control them fast. Destroy infected plants and remove their roots, just trash them.
There are various fungal diseases like black fungus which need you to discard. Discard only the visibly infected parts. To avoid dry rots, you can store Sweet potato at 60* temperature. There are various insecticides and fungicides available. You could use them but it will infect the crop and make it worse for consumption. So the best way to deal with it is to avoid it or cut and throw the infected parts.
5. Harvesting Sweet potatoes
When the leaves become pale or yellow, it’s time to harvest them. You could wait for the sweet potatoes to be in the ground for some more time to increase their nutritional yield. You can use a spade and other garden tools to gently dig out the produce. Lay them dry in the sun for the better part of a day. Now they are ready to be stored in a well-ventilated place. Keep them 90 degrees for 2 weeks before moving them to around 60 degrees. The best humidity for storage is 75-80%. For those who are not growing in large numbers, it’s easier. They can just consume the product when they want and keep storage complications out of the equation.
Some more information:
- Avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizer
- best to plant root sprouts or slips, available from nurseries
- The commercial crop will not grow directly and it may be GMO
- The planter-based sweet potato will look good in your home garden
- Moist, deep orange types are also called yams
- fleshy root is rich in vitamins A and C, along with many important minerals
- You can boil, bake, make casseroles, desserts, stir fry, and a lot of other recipes
- Sunny gardens are the key, plant them anywhere, but the one thing sweet potatoes need is a shining sun
Southern gardens will encounter more pest problems than gardens in Northern areas.