Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Sweet Potato Harvest

We harvested our sweet potatoes a couple of  weekends ago, right before it turned cold. For gardeners like you and I, it was just like digging for treasure. Of course we weren't sure what we were going to find, but there they were, sweet potatoes in a variety of shapes and sizes. We used our garden fork to unearth the tubers and then realized we were putting holes in our precious potatoes. So, we gladly hand dug the remaining potatoes, digging about 10 inches deep. We found enough potatoes to keep us in fried, mashed, and sweet potato pies for the next couple of months. My family is happy about that, we love sweet potatoes, they are highly nutritious and delicious! As new potato farmers, I thought I'd better do a little research. Here's what I found.
  • Planting times for sweet potato slips are from March 1st to June 1st. Sweet potatoes like warm to hot temperatures, they don't really take off until it warms up. (we planted our potatoes in May, and waited until after the Arcadia Edible Garden Tour to harvest). They can be harvested in 120 to 150 days from time of planting. When the weather cools and the foliage turns yellow is a good indication that the potatoes are ready. Check out our post on sprouting your own slips.
  • Sweet potatoes should be planted in well-drained, sandy to loamy soil. We planted our potatoes in our 4x8 raised bed and added a little extra sand to the usual mixture of compost, mulch and planting soil. Don't over fertilize with nitrogen. Root crops need potassium and phosphorus, so you might want to add bone meal to your soil.
  • Plant slips 12" apart, and water well until established. Then reduce water to 1" or so a week. Don't over water.  
  • Make sure you provide adequate space for your potatoes, the vines are very vigorous growers.
  • The leaves and young shoots of the sweet potato vines are edible. They can be added to a stir fry recipe or a mixed salad (haven't tried this yet).
  • Once harvested, let them air dry, out of the sun for a couple of hours. Then move them to a basket or box, lined with newspaper. Store in a cool, well ventilated area. Allow to cure for 7 to 10 days, this allows the skins to toughen and ensures a longer shelf life. They usually keep for a couple of months.
  • Sweet potatoes are considered one of the "super foods" of the decade. Here's more detailed information on the nutritional value of this easy to grow root vegetable.  This year we'll try planting   our potatoes in grow bags to free up some much needed garden space. I'd like to try a few different varieties too, maybe some red and purple potatoes. We will let you know how that goes.


Kim said...

I LOVE Sweet Potatoes (really, who doesn't?). Where exactly are you going to store these?

Jill Roberts said...

I love your blog, it provides me with inspiration that I can do an amazing garden on my own. I'm excited to try to plant sweet potatoes!

Sweet Life Garden said...

Right now my potatoes are in a basket, in the corner, behind the box of Christmas decorations that I have yet to put in the attic! We are going through those potatoes very quickly. I am saving at least enough to make my sweet potato pie though.

Casa Mariposa said...

I am jealous, jealous, jealous of your sweet potatoes! All sweet potato harvesting at our house involves a trip to the grocery store. Can you grow them in a big pot?

Sweet Life Garden said...

Hi TS, yep, thats what I hear anyway. I'm going to plant mine in a large "grow bag" this next season. We shall see. I'm going add your site to my garden blog list, ok.