We are growing sweet potatoes for the first time this season, and we’re learning as we go along. Unlike most of the other plants in our garden, sweet potatoes are NOT grown from seeds. Instead, they are grown from “slips,” or small clusters of leaves that can be made to sprout on mature tubers. For info on how to start your own sweet potato slips, click here.
Sweet potatoes come in either bush or vining varieties. We bought our vining-type sweet potato slips, variety ‘Georgia Jet,’ from Burpee. NOTE: some sweet potato slips that are sold as ‘Georgia Jet” are, in fact, imposters. To tell the difference between the imposter and the Real Thing, watch your plants for blossoms. If you see blossoms, (as in photo, below), then you have the REAL Georgia Jet variety!
Our very own Georgia Jet sweet potato blossoms [Photo by Alan Jones]
We wanted a variety that would do well this far north (slightly north of Boston, Massachusetts), but also have a relatively short time to maturity (90 days). To place an order, click here.
Some important things to keep in mind to Successfully Grow Sweet Potatoes:
1. Sweet potatoes like a slightly acid soil, prefering a soil pH between 5.0 and 6.5.
2. Sweet potatoes do much better in very warm soil, so covering your soil with CLEAR plastic prior to planting your slips will help to capture extra solar energy, thus raising the temperature of your soil.
3. Don’t fertilize your sweet potatoes — doing so will result in lots of foliage, but not necessarily more tubors. Digging in 2-4″ of compost at planting time will supply sufficient nutrients for a good crop.
4. IMPORTANT: Give your sweet potatoes about 1″ of water per week, but, to keep the mature tubers from splitting, DO NOT WATER your plants for 3-4 weeks prior to their harvest date.
5. Be gentle when digging your sweet potatoes — they grow close to the surface. Their skins are tender and can be easily damaged.
6. VERY IMPORTANT: Sweet potatoes develop a much better taste if allowed to cure properly after digging.
For more info on growing and curing your very own delicious and ridiculously nutritious sweet potatoes, see: