Growing sweet potatoes is easy and requires very less efforts. We are here to tell you how to grow sweet potatoes in 6 easy steps.
Let us begin!!
1) Choosing Plants
Potatoes come in white, yellow, and dark orange with brown or reddish-brown skin. Dark orange sweet potatoes are called “yams,” but true yams belong to the genus Dioscorea and are seldom grown north of Zone 10.
Sweet potatoes are grown from tuber sprouts called slips. Buy certified disease-and pest-free slips from a reputable nursery or start your own. Gardeners in the North should choose early-maturing cultivars. Southern gardeners should choose disease-resistant cultivars.
2) Site and Soil
Sweet potatoes prefer full sun, and loose, slightly acidic soil—pH 5.5 is ideal. Spread 10 to 20 pounds of compost per 100 square feet and work it into the top few inches.
Avoid fresh manure and other nitrogen-rich fertilizers. If your soil is heavy or poorly drained, build 10-inch-high raised beds.
3) Planting Sweet Potatoes
When to plant
Plant slips once the soil is at least 70°F.
How much to plant
Two to five plants per person are usually enough. Each plant produces 2 to 3 pounds.
Starting plants indoors
You can start your own sweet potato slips from tubers saved from your last year’s crop (choose the last tubers to sprout and be sure they are healthy) or from purchased, untreated ones.
Follow the instructions with the above illustration for growing slips.
Dig holes 6 inches deep and 12 inches apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart. In raised beds, plant a single row of slips down the center of the bed. Bury slips up to their top leaves, firm the soil, and water well.
4) Seasonal Care
Keep your soil moist all summer long to grow plump tubers. Follow the guidelines below to harvest a bumper crop.
Cover soil with black plastic
Prewarm the soil by covering it a few weeks prior to planting. On planting day, cut slits in the plastic and plant slip through the slits.
If you’re not using black plastic, mulch the vines with 6 inches of organic mulch two weeks after planting.
Keep soil consistently moist but not soggy. Stop watering two weeks before harvesting.
Start checking tuber size 70 days after planting and harvest them when they reach the size you like. Dig tubers carefully by inserting a digging fork about a foot away from the main stem and lifting the soil.
Harvest all tubers when frost nips the vines or when the vines yellow and die down.
Leave tubers in the sun for several hours. Then cure in a hot, well-ventilated area for 10 to 15 days. Store cured tubers at room temperature.
6) Solving Sweet Potato Problems
Use this table to identify problems on your sweet potatoes. Scan the list of symptoms to find the description that most closely matches what you see in your garden. Then refer across the page to learn the cause and the recommended solutions.
|1||Leaves with veins chewed; leaves wilted||Sweet potato flea beetles||Spray rotenone or pyrethrins to control adults. Remove bindweed and dichondra plants which are where larvae feed.|
In the future, cover plants with floating row cover until June; in the South, delay planting until June.
|2||Stems turn black at soil line; leaves yellow; plants stunted||Black rot||Remove and destroy all diseased plants, roots, and crop debris. In the future, buy disease-free stock and plan a 3-to 4-year crop rotation.|
|3||Tubers tunneled; white grubs in tunnels||Sweet potato weevils||Unchewed parts of tubers may be edible (check for bitterness). Don’t store roots that may contain larvae. Remove and destroy all crop debris, volunteer sweet potatoes, and morning glories in the area.|
In the future, buy weevil-free stock and cover plants with floating row cover until harvest.
|4||Tubers with lengthwise cracks in surface||Growth Cracks||Damaged tubers are edible. In the future, plant crack-resistant cultivars and keep the soil evenly moist.|
|5||Tubers with dark patches which may crack; tubers shrivel||Scurf||Diseased roots are edible but don’t keep well.|
In the future, plant resistant cultivars, purchase disease-free stock and plan a 2- to 3-year crop rotation.
|6||Tubers with round, sunken black spots or patches||Black Rot||Remove and destroy all diseased plants, roots, and crop debris.|
In the future, plant resistant cultivars, purchase disease-free stock, and plan a 3- to 4-year crop rotation.