If you have perused through my blog then you know that I love gardening. One of the things that gets me really excited each season is trying to grow something new in my garden. Any of you that have a garden know that it is often not as simple as just planting what you like and then watering it. Many fruits and vegetables can be quite picky about the soil ph, the amount of sun they get and even the amount of water.
This year I have taken on a new endever and I trying to grow one of my favorite veggies. SWEET POTATOES!!! I have been nervous about growing them in the past as things that grow underground seem really tricky to me so I just avoid them. I mean how do you know how they are doing if you can’t see them? This year I have tossed that concern aside and have planted 9 sweet potato plants in one of my raised beds. I have been doing lots of research on growing sweet potatoes so I thought I would share all that I have learned. From my research, it seems like sweet potatoes are actually going to be pretty easy to grow. This year I planted a variety of sweet potatoes called Beauregard Sweet Potatoes. It is favored for high yields of uniform, reddish-purple potatoes with tasty, deep-orange flesh that keeps well in storage. They are also disease resistant and resist cracking.
Here are some tips and tricks for successful sweet potato gardening:
1. Till the soil to depths of about 10-12 inches
Sweet potatoes like rather sandy soil that is loose and well tilled. Soil that is packed tight will not allow enough space for the tubers to easily grow.
2. Water deeply about once a week
Sweet potatoes need moist well draining soil. It is necessary to water them really deeply about one a week. This would be a good time to use the sprinkler as it may be pretty time consuming (not to mention boring) to give them enough water. It seems about 1 inch of water a week is necessary. On a side note, I did read that you should not water your sweets in the last 3-4 weeks before harvest as this will keep your mature tubers from splitting. Not sure if this is true, but thought it would be worth sharing.
3. Keep them warm
Sweet potatoes like warm soil and sunlight. If you are in the south then the warmth should not be a problem. My sweets are going to get about 6 hours of sun a day. I am not fully convinced that this is enough, but it is the sunniest place I have to plant them. Due to the low sun, I am going to apply extra mulch or maybe even black plastic mulch to help keep the ground warm.
4. Side dress with compost
It sounds silly right? What this means is that about a month after planting, it is a good idea to put a good amount (about a spade full) of compost on each side of the plant. Then your plant is dressed. :)
This is the really scary part for me. I mean what if I dig them up too early and they are too small or too late and they are all rotted. Yikes! It seems like the best thing to do is to follow the guidelines for the variety of sweet potato that you planted. Most will be ready for harvest somewhere between 90-120 days. Make sure you make a note of when you planted them. I also read that the leaves will begin to turn yellow when the potatoes are ready for harvest.
If this all sounds pretty simple, it is because I “think” it is. This is truly a learning as I go experiment for me this year. Want to learn more about sweet potatoes? I am going to post a few links that the bottom that I enjoyed. Do you know the difference between a sweet potato and a yam? I thought I did, but it turns out I was wrong.
I am going to post pics and updates on my sweets as the season progresses. I would love to hear about your success/struggles growing sweets. Happy Gardening!
Fun facts about sweet potatoes (who knew they are the official vegetable of North Carolina)