You will not find growing sweet potatoes very difficult. When you grow them in your garden in your raised bed then you will find the taste of these potatoes is much better than local supermarkets’ sweet potatoes.
You can grow starchy tuber sweet potatoes in the same way as regular potatoes. Sweet potatoes are root vegetables and have deep orange flesh. This is an easy to maintain crop which likes to grow in summer. Full sun and warm soil are essential for the healthy growth of sweet potatoes.
This undemanding nutritious crop is the best source of beta-carotene. You will get all the relevant information regarding growing sweet potatoes in your growing area.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YAMS AND SWEET POTATOES
Most people think that there is no difference between yams and sweet potatoes. I know this is a more confusing question. Yams is a tropical crop and normally grown in the Caribbean and Africa.
They have a brown color and bark-like skin. The flesh of this crop is white and stretchy. You will find this yummy crop in different sizes and shapes.
The difference is quite clear between these two crops. The sweet potatoes have pinkish, red, and purple skin. Orange fleshes tubers are different from the white flesh you. Now, I think you have no doubts about these different crops.
BEST VARIETIES OF SWEET POTATOES
When you are choosing the best variety of sweet potatoes then keep some important things in your mind. If you have limited space for growing then you should select bush variety.
Remember sweet potatoes like to grow in hot climates. Warm weather with long days is preferred by this nutritious plant. Here are some varieties which are commonly grown.
This variety is world famous because of its high production and disease-resistant quality. This is a vining variety so you need a large space for growing it.
This variety will be mature within 90 days even in cooler areas. It also needs ample space to grow because it is also a vining variety like Beauregard. The flash of this variety is deep orange and the color of the skin is red.
If you want to taste does not look then this is the perfect variety for your raised bed. The other name of this variety is the queen of sweet potatoes. The tubers of this variety are short and chunky. The maturity time is 120 to 135 days. You have to show patience for getting a yummy taste.
The color of the skin is dark orange-red while the flesh has bright red color. This variety is perfect for baking.
HEART OF GOLD
The sweet flavor of this variety makes it perfect but you will face difficulty in finding slips. The production is low but the size of the spud is large.
WHEN TO PLANT SWEET POTATOES?
You can’t grow sweet potatoes from seeds. Slips sprout from existing sweet potatoes used for growing plants of sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes can’t tolerate cold so they can’t grow until the soil gets warm.
The best time for planting is 3-4 weeks after passing last spring frost. When the temperature of nighttime reaches 55 F or 13 C. This is important for getting a mature crop quickly. Unexpected frost can kill the plants so don’t plant sweet potatoes earlier in the season.
Most varieties take 3-4 months for maturity which means about 90 to 120 days. Your growing season should be long enough for getting a mature crop.
You can plant earlier to get a mature crop but not so early because frost can damage your plants. In that case, you can cover your plants with garden fabric for the protection of your plants from cool spring nights.
HOW TO GROW SWEET POTATOES FROM A SWEET POTATO?
As is mentioned above that we can use slips to grow sweet potatoes. The question arises in your mind where you get slips. They are easily available at many garden centers or local nurseries. You can also get slips from local farmers.
The second method of starting own slips from sweet potatoes which you buy from the store or market but before planting make sure about the variety. These simple steps will help you in making ready slips for growing more sweet potatoes.
- First, you should store the sweet potatoes at a temperature of 55°F in a dark place till mid-April.
- When the time comes you can put the sweet potatoes in a container but make sure there should be space left between each.
- After that cover the sweet potatoes with a 3 inch of light organic and well-drained soil.
- After covering, your potatoes need water so the soil becomes damp. Don’t overwater the soil so it will become soggy.
The temperature of the soil must be 75°F to 80 °F. Within 4 to 6 weeks you will see the slips are ready and their size will be 6 to 12 inches long. You can see leaves and roots on the slips.
Delicately remove the slips from the potatoes and make sure the roots should be attached to the potatoes. If you find there are no roots on the slips then place them in the water. The roots will emerge within one to two weeks.
Now your slips are ready for planting in your raised bed. Before planting, first, prepare the site for a raised bed, so you will get healthy development of your favorite sweet potatoes.
PREPARING PLANTING SITE FOR YOUR RAISED BED FOR PLANTING SLIPS OF SWEET POTATOES
Raised beds are a good option for growing plants. The only drawback is its cost but if you build the raised bed by using your skills then it will not affect your pocket.
The depth of the raised bed should be high because sweet potatoes are deep-rooted plants. The most suitable size of a raised bed is 4 × 4 but you can build according to your need.
Keep in mind the width of the raised should be not more than 4 feet because you can’t maintain a wider raised bed. Because you can’t manage the plants at the center of the raised bed. They need space for propagating roots in the bed.
As you know sunlight is very important in the growth of any plant so choose the site where your plant gets maximum sunlight. After choosing the site for your raised bed the next step is preparing the site for growing sweet potatoes.
First, level the ground with the help of a rack. The soil in the ground should be free from any rocks and stones so the roots of potatoes can propagate properly. Then build the raised bed at that place, you can also buy a ready-made raised bed from any gardening store.
After setting your raised bed, fill the bed with loose, rich, and well-drained soil. You can amend the soil with compost but don’t fertilize the soil at the time of planting. Phosphorus and potassium are needed for the great development of plants. High nitrogen results in the growth of leaves and the tubers will not promote it.
If you want to warm the soil for earlier growth then you can do the step of pre-warming the soil. For this purpose, you need to lay a piece of black plastic mulch on the top of the soil of the raised bed for at least two weeks. This step should be done before planting.
This will work and you can plant sweet potatoes earlier. When you want to plant the potatoes then you can remove the mulch. The other option is that you can make holes in the plastic for slips.
This will provide your plant extra warmth and protect your plants from weeds. A soaker hose can run underneath the mulch to provide timely water to the plants.
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HOW FAR APART TO PLANT SWEET POTATOES?
This is a very important question and you should do some research and try to get information in this regard. In a raised bed the distance between each plant must be 18 inches. If you are growing them in-ground beds then leave 3 feet between rows.
You can also grow sweet potatoes in containers or fabric bags. Both are good options if you are facing the problem of limited space. But you should water the soil more than the raised bed because the moisture of the soil in the container or raised bed will dry out quickly.
HOW TO GROW SWEET POTATOES?
Here are some useful tips and instructions for growing healthy potatoes.
- If you are living in a dry climate then in that case your plants need more water as compared to others.
- When slips adjust in their new home. Then you can reduce water quantity. But if your plants face the problem of shortage of water then they will produce smaller potatoes.
- To maintain the moisture, you can also use straws and shredded leaves for the layering of mulch instead of black plastic.
You should show patients when you are growing sweet potatoes because they take time Normally the maturity time of most of the tubers is 9200 days to mature. When the tubers are formed then you can harvest tubers at any time. If they experience light frost and are harvested before hard frost then you will get a sweet taste.
These are simple steps of harvesting:
- Select that day of harvesting when it has not rained for a few days. The soil of the raised bed has minimum moisture so you can easily harvest the tubers.
- The process of harvesting will start cutting the vines back. This will help you to get to the soil. If you provide support to the vines of potatoes then you can easily find the place of tubers.
- Leave the 6-inch length of the vines above the ground.
- Carefully do this step because the skin of the tuber is very thin and can be damaged easily. Slowly push the tuber from the soil. You can also use a garden knife for losing the soil around the tubers. But don’t stab aimlessly in the soil. Don’t take the risk of cutting tubers because you can not store the pieces of tubers.
CURING OF SWEET POTATOES
This will help to store for a longer time. The curing steps of sweet potatoes are as follows:
- The ideal temperature for this purpose is 85 F with 85%.
- Take plastic grocery bags and make some holes in them. These holes will help to make air circulation in the bags.
- Fill each bag with a single layer of tubers of sweet potatoes.
- Tie bags and place all the bags in a sunny window where tubers get warmth. If your window is not sunny and your plants are not getting proper warmth then you can put a blanket or towel over them. Leave these bags for 10 days.
After 10 days, the tubers in the bags will become harder. If you want to store for more time then follow the next steps. In the next step, wrap each tuber in a single sheet of newspaper. The newspaper will help to prevent the crop from moisture and allows aeration.
Stack these wrapped tubers in a wooden or cardboard box. You can also use any storage container that allows aeration. Keep the lid off. Now place them in a basement or any room which temperature is about 55-60 degrees. Leave the sweet potatoes at that place for 6 weeks.
After that period, you will see the hard skin on the potatoes. This will help to store them for more time. After completing all the steps of curing you can store sweet potatoes for 6-8 months. But it is possible if you provide all the following requirements:
- The temperature of the storage place must be 55 F.
- The place where you are storing must be dark.
- The humidity rate of the storing environment must be 60%.