Sweet potatoes can be a good staple in your everyday meals as they are nutritious, filling and can be cooked and paired with in various ways. If you eat them often, it may be worth considering planting some of these purple treats in your sun-lit garden. There are also ways for you to grow your sweet potatoes without waiting for a long hot season if you plan ahead. This article shows you how to grow your own sweet potatoes successfully.
Choosing Your Sweet Potato
Besides the satisfaction that comes from growing your own vegetables, you also get to choose from a variety of cultivars that can be hard-to-find in your own local supermarkets. Most groceries only have selected types of sweet potatoes, when there are plenty of kinds of sweet potatoes. When growing your sweet potato, you can consider the variety of sweet potatoes below:
A popular choice. This variety comes with a bright orange flesh.
Japanese sweet potato with an amazing purple flesh, vining plant.
Reddish-orange flesh, vining plant.
Carrot-like color and a good choice for those living in northern climates that have relatively short growing seasons.
A sweeter variety that is suitable for bakers.
Planting Your Sweet Potatoes the Right Way
Sweet potatoes grow best in hot weather, so a long and hot growing season is the most ideal for them. That said, you can choose a variety of sweet potatoes such as Georgia Jet or Beauregard if your place of residence doesn’t have long summer seasons. You will be able to harvest and then cure the sweet potatoes on time before the frost starts coming in. For annuals, sweet potatoes are best suited to growing in zones 3 to 11. And for perennials, in zones 8 to 11. Remember to choose a good sun-lit spot that will provide plenty of sunlight for the whole day.
Vegetables need a suitable environment for them to grow well. Make sure to prepare loamy soil that has a pH of between 5.0 to 6.5 and make sure your soil is filled with rich organic matter. You should also ensure your soil is well-drained. Sweet potatoes generally aren’t as picky about the ground texture but you may see oddly shaped sweet potatoes upon harvesting if your soil is filled with rocks and clumps.
Usually, gardeners often purchase their own slips to grow but you’ll need to know how to begin rooting if you’re thinking of beginning your journey from a sweet potato you buy from the store. Start off the process about six to eight weeks before the last frost date. If you want to root your sweet potatoes, it will require lots of patience as it usually will take up about a month or so of waiting.
Next, you’ll want your sweet potatoes to start sprouting. Start by putting them in loose potting soil and make sure the environment is warm and humid. When the sprouts form, transfer them to a place with some soft sunlight until your sprouts are ready for planting. While some gardeners may advise you to root them directly into the water without soil, plants are not likely to form strong root systems that way.
Once you got your potato slips ready and there is no risk of frost, plant them in hills of amended earth a foot in width each. A whole single bed is recommended for your sweet potatoes as the vines will need room to grow and spread. Cover your potato slips in some dirt but make sure to expose the leaves so they get exposure to the sunlight. Once it is well transplanted, remember to water your slips.
This stage is crucial as the sweet potatoes slips are very sensitive to frost so you have to make sure to plant them at least a few weeks after any risk of frosting is gone and warmer temperatures have settled in. If you don’t have enough space or quality soil, consider growing your sweet potatoes in grow bags. This gives you the option to bring your vegetables indoors if the temperature falls.
Give your plants 12 to 18 inches of space between each one, 3 to 4 feet between the plant rows and plant them such that half of the stem is above ground and their roots are covered. This ensures sufficient space for them to grow. Do also mulch them to help keep the soil warm. You can also try using black plastic mulch to enhance the effect of trapping heat within the soil.
Caring For Your Plant Takes Effort But Shows Results
While planting may seem like the most of it, caring for your plant is also super important. Here are some tips for you to ensure your sweet potatoes grow well.
Water your plants weekly for it to stay hydrated but avoid overwatering as it will cause it to quickly rot. Sweet potatoes can actually survive underwatering but their chances of growing in waterlogged soil are not high. Choose a low-nitrogen fertilizer or plenty of compost for your plant and avoid nitrogen fertilizers as they can cause increased foliage growth and reduce the output of the roots. Remember to weed regularly to prevent your sweet potatoes from diseases.
As mentioned above, sweet potatoes grow best in heat. If there is a random fall in temperature, quickly cover your sweet potatoes in a frost blanket or bring your pots of vegetables indoors. It will be good to monitor the forecast for the weather and temperature from time to time just to stay safe.
Finally, It’s Time To Harvest Our Rewards!
After three to four months of caring for your sweet potato slips, they are ready for harvest. Avoid waiting and exposing your fully grown crops to frost as it will leave you with rotted roots. To harvest, use your hands to carefully dig out the tubers or lightly move dirt with a spade. Be careful not to knock or dent your potatoes.
Once they are out, you will need to cure the sweet potatoes before storing them as it can last longer as the flesh transforms from starchy to sweet. Expose your crops to high humidity and hot temperatures for a week. Once it’s cured, store your sweet potatoes in a cool and dry area. You’ll now be able to enjoy your sweet potatoes for lunch!