Donate Now!

Donate Now!
Buy a membership or koozies to help!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Sweet Potato and You

I received a phone call yesterday, someone was asking about sweet potatoes. My first thought was How did you get this number? But it's hard to keep your phone number away from your family, they always seem to find it.
When your sweet potato vines start looking like this...STOP WATERING! They fair best when hot and dry. If you are suffering from a drought a quick watering once a week will suffice.

I realize that it is a little late into the season to talk about planting, but I figured that it's best to cover it all so that 1. you can pin point your mistakes and they will not become a bad habit. And 2. I don't have to re-write this next spring, I can link to it.

First we need to obtain our seed stock. Several ways to do that. Catalog, local supplier or by contacting the Extension Service to get a foundation seed stock.

Now for the soil. Nice fertile soil will get you a nice large yield, but a poor quality root, while too poor of a soil will get you a wonderful quality root, but low yield. You really need a happy medium. Perfect soil for the sweet potato is light and sandy, or silt loam, with a clay sub soil, good drainage and moderately fertile. Don't have that? We find an area that little plant life grows, and plant our sweet potatoes there, I prefer quality over quantity.

For an early crop plant in the spring as soon as the soil temp reaches 70f {21c} degrees. Any colder than that and your cutting will not fair well. Build rows about 3 feet {0.914m} wide and 1 foot{0.305m} high. Spacing the rows 3 feet {0.914m} apart. Plant your sprout four inches {10.16cm} deep, spacing them 12 inches { 30.48cm} apart.

Try not to weed to deeply, they do have shallow roots, once the vines start running, you will only need to pull weeds that pop up over the top.

After 130 - 150 days your sweet potatoes are ready. They do need to be pulled before your first hard frost. Start by using a potato fork, and digging up one hill to see if they are ready. Dig deep as you can find them up to 1 foot {0.305m} down, and make sure your soil is dry. If the root is underdeveloped or the skin is tender wait another 20 days before pulling them.

Once you have your crop in, separate the bruised ones, they need to be eaten soon. The others need to be initially stored in a well ventilated area at 85f {29c}for 15 - 20 days. After curing store them at temperatures between 80f-60f {26c-15c} never lower than 50f {10c}. Wrap them individually in newspaper when placing them into long term storage.

The simplest way to secure a new crop for the next year is to cut your runners. Planting one short vine in a hanging planter. Not only do you get a pretty houseplant, but you have your starters for next year ready for you.

Ok, so I lied. There is more to go over, but this is the basics that will get you through the rest of the season. In January I will talk more on this subject, just remind me.

You can read my article on why sweet potatos are the perfect food.

I have received a few queries on hot water baths and canning green beans. I will go over that subject tomorrow.


Cheryl said...

I'm so jealous - I love sweet potatoes but I don't think there's any way I could get them to grow here (we're a zone 8).

Phelan said...

You might be able to if you use the black plastic method. Let me do some reasearch and I will get back to you. {though it might be a Jan. post}

Cheryl said...

That would be great!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...