This was my first time growing sweet potatoes. I was absolutely blow away by the results. Check out the video of my huge sweet potato harvest below and share my excitement.
Huge Sweet Potato Harvest: Video
I grew the slips myself from sweet potatoes I had purchased at a local farmers market. I used one orange skin and one purple skin, both had orange meat inside.
What are sweet potato slips?
To grow slips just acquire the sweet potato of your choice. Support the potato half submerged in water using toothpicks. Place it near a sunny window or under a grow light. Before long you’ll see the little vines will start growing, these are the slips.
Once the little vines have a couple sets of leaves and the stems are about six inches long you can pull them off. Now place the slips you removed in a glass of water with the bottom two inches submerged. It won’t take long till they start forming roots. The whole process takes about 4 – 6 weeks using a fresh sweet potato. Make sure the slips have well developed roots before you attempt to plant them in the garden
Sweet potatoes can’t tolerate cold weather or frost. I transplanted six slips into a deep raised garden bed in mid May (Michigan, Zone 6a). The section of the raised garden bed measured 24″ x 36″ and is about 18″ deep. The soil I used was one third sphagnum (peat) moss, one third compost, and the last third was a mix of vermiculite and sand. I had also amended the soil with some wood ash from my fireplace in the previous fall season.
Growing the huge sweet potato harvest
I really didn’t do anything special for these vines while they were growing watering as needed but I never used any commercial fertilizers. Growing in the limited space resulted in vines sprawling out of the raised garden bed and spilling out onto the ground. As a result I ended up pruning the vines to the point that they were barely touching the ground. Pruning the vines may have allowed the plants to devote more energy to developing the roots?!
When to harvest
Since this was my first time growing sweet potatoes I really wasn’t sure when to harvest but I understand they require at least 100 days to mature. I did some reading on the internet. The general consensus was that once the vines are flowering then the roots are forming the potatoes.
By mid to late September the vines were growing an occasional flower. Around the end of September my curiosity got the best of me and I reached down into the loose soil near the main stalk of one of the vines. There were indeed some sweet potatoes formed so I stopped probing around once I felt them beneath the soil. In hindsight I could have dug down sooner to check if potatoes were growing.
The Huge Sweet Potato Harvest
On October 3rd I decided to harvest the sweet potatoes and see what had grown. Once the vines were cut back I grabbed the stalks and pulled one huge sweet potato after another from the soil. Before harvesting I had reached into the soil to see if sweet potatoes had formed but I had no idea they would be so huge.
Before storing, the sweet potatoes need to “cure” to get the best flavor. This also allows the sweet potato skins to firm up and any blemishes from harvesting to scab over. This process is simple, just leave them in a warm spot for at least two weeks. Don’t wash with water, just brush off the excess dirt. Once curing is completed you can tuck them away in a cool area away from light.
The secret to my success?
Just what did I do to get such a huge sweet potato harvest? To be honest, I’m really not positive. As I mentioned this was my first time growing them. If I had to guess I’d say the biggest factor was the loose soil which allowed the roots of the vines to penetrate deep beneath the surface. I’m sure pruning back the vines and the wood ash I used to amend the soil helped as well.
Whatever the reason I couldn’t have been more pleased with my sweet potato harvest this year (2019), and I’m hoping I can duplicate the results on my next harvest!
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