Harvesting Sweet Potatoes
This is the first year we tried to grow sweet potatoes and we were pleasantly surprised when we realized how well they grew!
Sweet potato “slips” are planted in the ground in mid to late May here in zone 8b. They are harvested in late October or early November, and can be left growing until the first frost. We began harvesting in mid October.
Sweet potato slips can be purchased from a gardening store, or they can be easily started from a store-purchased sweet potato. We tried both and they made equally well.
The Beauregard variety is known for it’s vigor and substantive yields, so we purchased those as slips from the garden center. We also purchased several sweet potatoes from the grocery store and used one to make slips (although it’s not certain what variety that was, it still grew quite well and appears to be a Beauregard).
To make slips, place a sweet potato in a large garden pot (we used a 3-gallon plastic pot saved from a previous purchase — washed with 10% bleach to ensure it was clean and disinfected) and add a loose soil mixture. One tip of the potato protruded about 1/2 inch above the ground so I could watch the progress.
Water and wait for the vines to grow. Once the vines grow, it is easy to see that they have early stage roots forming at the base.
In the photo (left), the base of the plants are pink and protruding root structures are becoming visible (see yellow-circled areas). These “slips” are easily snapped off at the base and can then be planted in the prepared garden soil. I planted two slips in each spot (6 spots) and hoped that at least one would grow.
They grew quickly and the vines easily took over a rather large area. I planted a row of 6 sets of 2 — they were about a foot apart — and those all sent vines out over an area of about 7 feet by 7 feet.
We harvested a total of just over 40 pounds from the 6 sets of planted slips. One of the sets — the largest one — is pictured at the top of this post (it yielded right at 12 pounds).
Needless to say, this is one crop that will be planted again next year!