Growing sweet potatoes tropical and sub tropical climates is comparatively easier as against growing it in cooler ones. An invasive creeper, it has the tendency to cover up the entire garden within very little span of time. They just need 4 full warm months to grow into full tubers. Just ensure that you harvest them on a regular basis to avoid this confusion of creeper attacking your garden.
Here is a complete overview of how you can grow sweet potato in your home garden. But before we do that, here is a couple of facts related to its growth that will give you a clearer view on how you can handle the whole stuff easily.
Sweet Potatoes Growing Facts
Size at maturity: Varies with different varieties with an average length of 4 inches to 6 inches.
Exposure to sunlight: Choose an area where they are exposed fully to the sun. If you are not able to find such a place, then identify a location that is the least shaded.
Time taken for harvesting: About 4 months. The leaves can be harvested throughout the season.
Which Varieties of Sweet Potatoes Should You Grow In Your Garden
Here are a couple of variants you can try growing:
With a pale reddish pink skin and deep orange flesh, this is the most popular among commercial variants with a harvest period of 100 days.
- Bush Porto Rico
This sweet potato variant comes with a copper hued skin and orange flesh. The vines are pretty compact and can be harvested after 110 days.
If you cannot spend time on the debugging and de-worming, then this one could be your pick. It matures quite fast with a growth period of 90 to 95 days.
- Georgia Jet
If you are searching for a sweet potato variety with very short harvesting period, then do try this red skinned variant with the lush orange flesh. It needs just 90 days.
This takes about 100 days for harvesting but the pest resistance it showcases is fabulous.
A Complete Guide For Growing Sweet Potatoes At Home
Choose a soil that is slightly acid in nature with the preferred pH being somewhere between 5.0 to 6.5.
What should you plant?
Since these tubes are grown from the slips, it is idea to plant small rooted slices of sweet potato. Just halve one sweet potato lengthwise and place it on a wet potting soil bed.
Cover with soil for a couple of inches to retain the warmth and moisture. You will see small roots developing within a couple of days. You can transfer the plant after they grow to a height of 4 to 8 inches, which takes about 6 weeks.
If your winter is shorter, then choose new slips from the vine cuttings after snipping the tips of vines at about 6 inch distance just before the frost. Place the cut off tips in water and wait until roots start growing. Once the roots emerge, you can plant in the soil in a sunny location.
When should you transplant?
Wait until the frost completely passes away and the ground arms up completely. Plant the slips in rows with 8 inches height. This will ensure that soil warms quicker while ensuring that they are well-drained. However, if you are in a cooler climate, spread a black plastic sheet on the soil to warm up the soil quicker.
How much space should I provide?
Maintain a 15 to 8 inch distance between plants while the rows should be 3 to 4 feet apart.
Should you feed your sweet potatoes?
No as feeding them will product only foliage. Just leave them on their own.
Maintaining sweet potatoes
Always ensure that the area surrounding the plants is kept clean until the top portion grows well and enacts like the natural mulch. While regular watering is essential to prevent splitting, stop watering the plants when there are only 4 more weeks leaves for harvesting. Thus will ensure that tubers mature without cracks and splits.
Handling the pests
Root-knot nematodes and wire-worms – keep an eye on these two as they are the troublemakers. Also, be on the lookout for mice as they have a tendency to dig their deep into the tubers. You can keep rotating the plants for eliminating the risk of root-knot nematodes and wire-worms.
Harvesting the sweet potatoes
The foliage is now yellow and it shows that your sweet potatoes are ready for the harvest. Dig gently into the ground as you will find the tubers close the surface. Do not worry even if the frost has damaged your foliage. The tubers will still be fine.
Now that you have harvested the fresh sweet potatoes, go ahead and relish its goodness!