How to Grow Sweet Potatoes- in 5 Easy Steps
I’ve never ran across a sweet potato I didn’t like; Sweet Potato Fries, Sweet Potato Casserole, Sweet Potatoes and Beets, Sweet Potato Noodles, Sweet Potatoes and Marshmallows, Sweet Potato Pie, Sweet Potato Butter, Sweet Potato Chips– you name it SWEET and I like it *insert Bubba Gump voice here*! What I really like about sweet potatoes is their versatility, affordability, and ease of growing.
The easiest vegetable I’ve ever grown, hands down, has to be the sweet potato. Of course, I live on the coast of South Carolina in the heart of Hades and have mediocre soil so that does give me a little advantage with growing this vegetable, but I do believe anyone can have success with growing them.
I call the sweet potato the beginner vegetable, because it is perfect for any color thumb; green, black, brown or new. This is also a great vegetable to grow with your children for a school project or 4-H.
Growing Sweet Potatoes Step #1 – Find a nice, medium size sweet potato (organic if possible) that is starting to sprout and a cup of water.
Growing Sweet Potatoes Step#2- Place your sweet potato in a cup of chlorine-free water with the sprout side down in the cup. Make sure 1/4- 1/2 of the potato sticking outside the water (picture shown is after the potato has been growing-about 4 weeks) and put on a windowsill or a shelf for 4-8 weeks
Change water a couple times a week with purified water
Growing Sweet Potatoes Step #3- When your potato starts to grow a plant on the topside and the roots look well established in the cup, it is time to separate the slips
Growing Sweet Potatoes Step #4-With a sharp knife, cut each root (slip) free from the potato (being careful not to cut the stem or roots), include a little of the potato when you are separating the slip from the potato
Growing Sweet Potatoes Step #5- plant slips directly in the soil, planter, hanging basket, or pot
That is it, you can grow sweet potatoes in 5 easy steps! Best part is, the cost of this easy to grow vegetable could be free if you ask around, I’m sure someone you know has a sweet potato already sprouting in their bin somewhere. Free food is the best food.
Tips for growing sweet potatoes
- Growing sweet potatoes works best in loamy, well-drained soil that is not too rich. Ideally the pH is between 5.8 and 6.2, although, they will tolerate a more acidic pH to 5.0
- Plant slips 10-12 inches apart and allow room for the vines to grow, they will create their own tropical ground cover.
- It takes about 95 days for harvest.
- Plant your sweet potato slips in Spring/Summer after the soil is nice and warm and all danger of frost is gone, sweet potatoes love the heat.
- As the plant grows, lift the vines off the ground periodically to avoid letting them root. If you allow your vines to root, it will cause your sweet potatoes to be smaller. I have heard fingerling sweet potatoes are all the rave now so maybe that’s a good thing?
- Sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start to yellow.
- After harvesting, allow your sweet potatoes to cure in a warm dry place for two weeks to increase their sweetness. Sweet potatoes are not sweet right out of the ground but become sweet in a short period of time.
- Once cured, store your potatoes in a cool, dry place- 50-60 degrees is ideal. Do not refrigerate.
- Sweet potato plants make amazing hanging baskets for aesthetic value.
- Sweet potato leaves are edible and nutritious. If you have missed the window to grow sweet potatoes for a potato harvest, grow one in a pot or hanging basket and enjoy the leaves in your salad!