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Gardening For Beginners

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Plant Grow Sweet Potatoes



This tropical crop needs at least four months of warm weather and warm soil, but they are drought- and heat-tolerant and have few pests or diseases. Although traditionally more of a Southern crop, there are many short-season varieties of sweet potato today. They will grow in the North (even parts of Canada!), when grown in sandy soil or raised beds that are mulched with black plastic to keep the soil warm.




Plant Grow Sweet Potatoes



Before ordering slips, make sure that you have a long enough growing season to actually grow sweet potatoes. Most varieties will take about 90 to 120 days to mature. See your frost dates and length of growing season. Also, make sure you time your order with your planting dates in mind!


The fastest-growing sweet potato varieties have orange flesh, but you might also consider varieties with white, yellow, or even purple flesh. Note that orange-flesh varieties cook up moist; white and yellow sweet potatoes become creamy; purple sweets are dry and starchy.


Relatively low in calories, sweet potatoes are very nutritious, a top source of beta-carotene, and also contain some protein, calcium, iron, vitamins A and C and other minerals. They can be stored longer than winter squash.


Hello, this is the first time I have ever planted sweet potatoes. I wish I could show the picture I took but I have in a galvanized type large round metal planter, I have planted a sweet potato that grew lots of leaves and I planted it in the dirt with the greens and top of the sweet potato above ground and then in another metal planter, I have a red potato, much smaller one.. for some reason I thought they could handle cold. I still need to read about red potatoes but I was thinking about taking these two large metal tub containers and putting them on a wood table I have by the back sliding glass door off my dining room and putting a heat lamp over them. I have two heat lamps from when I had rabbits recently... Do you think a heat lamp might work well as our temperatures have dropped into the 30s and 40s now in October...? Or if I put a tarp or possibly a weed block felted piece and a tarp over them to keep them warm enough -Or should I just forget about it? There are so many green leaves. I hate to just see it die. I don't think there's any potatoes in the pot yet because it's only been 2 to 3 months... Ty for any info!


Sweet potatoes can survive in the ground over the winter in warmer locations, but they do not tolerate cold weather, so it is mostly treated as an annual planting. Starting each growing season with a new slip (either purchased from a local garden center or nursery, or you can start your own) will likely give you a better result and hopefully a crop that will last well into the winter.


Brad Canning, the plant aficionado behind Leafy Lane, shared his quick trick for growing a sweet potato vine plant. Which, BTW, is even easier than growing an avocado plant. "This is a fun thing to try if you're bored or have children, or if you just love plants like I do," he said in a YouTube video.


All you'll need to get started is a cup or vase, toothpicks, water, and a sweet potato. If you have any left over from holiday recipes, it's a perfect opportunity to put them to use. Here's exactly how to turn a sweet potato into a thriving new sweet potato vine plant.


You can use a cup or a vase of any size, just as long as the bottom of the sweet potato is able to sit in the water. If needed, you can use toothpicks to prop the sweet potato on the rim of the container so that the roots have room to grow below.


While setting up your sweet potato vine plant is easy, waiting for it to sprout requires some patience. "The one thing I wish I knew before I started this was that absolutely nothing will happen for the first four weeks. Literally it's just going to be a potato in water," says Canning. "But then once it starts to grow roots, it'll start to vine real quick."


Because of how long it takes, Canning says it's a good idea to experiment with a few different sweet potatoes, as not all of them will end up sprouting stems. For those that fail to sprout after a couple months, retire them to the compost bin.


When a new plant does take off, caring for it is a breeze: Canning recommends changing the water at least once a week to prevent mold and odor. So sit back and relax as your sweet potato effortlessly flourishes.


Julie Thompson-Adolf is a Master Gardener and author. She has 30+ years of experience with year-round organic gardening; seed starting and saving; growing heirloom plants, perennials, and annuals; and sustainable and urban farming.


Growing edible sweet potatoes requires warm weather and a large container with a lot of drainage holes; In other words, it can become quite messy to grow sweet potatoes indoors. Sweet potato plants also tend to become root bound in smaller pots, so it's best to grow them outdoors in bigger containers or in the ground.


Growing sweet potatoes works best in loamy, well-drained soil. Ideally, the pH should be between 5.8 and 6.2, although they will tolerate a more acidic pH (down to 5.0). Before planting, thoroughly dampen the bed. If your soil is heavy clay, try growing sweet potatoes in raised beds filled with soil designed for that growing environment. Good root development depends on there being plenty of air space in the soil (good aeration). They are the ideal crop for areas with sandy soil. In the North, it's a good idea to cover the soil with black plastic or black fabric mulch about 3 weeks before planting to warm the soil.


Sweet potatoes are so willing to grow that plants accidentally dropped on the ground will take off and grow if the soil they land on is warm and moist. Plant sweet potatoes about 12 to 18 inches apart, and allow 3 feet between rows so the vines will have plenty of room to run. When setting out sweet potatoes in very hot, sunny weather, cover the plants with upturned flower pots for 3 days after planting to shield them from baking sun.


Sweet potato vines will soon cover a large area. Thoroughly weed your sweet potatoes 2 weeks after planting by pulling them gently; if possible avoid deep digging with a hoe or other tool that disturbs the feeder roots that quickly spread throughout the bed. These give rise to your sweet potatoes. Water weekly. Water is especially important as plants grow and roots spread.


Historically, sweet potatoes have been a poor soil crop that produces a decent harvest in imperfect soil, but will do better when planted in good soil and given regular doses of fertilizer. Feed plants with a continuous-release fertilizer that contains potassium (the third number on the fertilizer label), such as Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Edibles Plant Nutrition Granules. Gently mix the fertilizer into the soil, following label directions. Then mulch over the soil with an inch of grass clippings or another biodegradable mulch. Continue weeding and adding more mulch for another month. After that, sweet potatoes can usually fend for themselves, though they do benefit from weekly deep watering during serious droughts.


Deer love to nibble tender sweet potato leaves, so you may need to deter them with floating row covers. Japanese beetles and other leaf-eating insects may cause light damage, but sweet potatoes are so vigorous that they usually outgrow foliage pest problems. More troublesome are pests that might attack the tubers. In Florida and some other Southern states, sweet potato weevils are a big problem, often ruining the harvest. Wireworms and nematodes can also attack sweet potatoes. For advice on how to control these pests, contact your regional Extension agency.


You may have heard of a fungus disease called scurf that is very destructive to sweet potatoes. It is soil-borne and nearly impossible to get rid of once the soil is infested. Fortunately, you can avoid scurf by always planting certified, disease-free plants such as those sold by Bonnie.


Sweet potatoes are usually ready to harvest just as the ends of the vines begin to turn yellow, or just before frost in the North. To avoid injuring tubers, find the primary crown of the plant you want to dig, and then use a digging fork to loosen an 18-inch wide circle around the plant. Pull up the crown and use your hands to gather your sweet potatoes. To make digging easier and get the vines out of your way, you can cut some of them away before digging. Harvest before frost because cool temperatures can reduce the quality of the potatoes and their ability to keep.


Sweet potatoes are not very sweet when first dug, but they are fine for sweetened pies or casseroles. They need a period to sit and "cure" to bring out their sweetness. Shake off soil, and then lay the unwashed sweet potatoes in a warm (80F to 90F), well-ventilated place for about 10 days. A shaded table outdoors and out of the rain works well. As the sweet potatoes cure, any scratches in the skins should heal, and the flesh inside will become sweeter and more nutritious. This step is very important, as fresh, uncured potatoes do not bake as well. After 10 days, move your cured tubers to any spot that stays cool and dry, but do not refrigerate or store below 50F. Cured sweet potatoes will keep for up to 6 months when stored at around 60F with high humidity; a basement is ideal, though an air-conditioned storage room or pantry will do, too.


Sweet potatoes are a tropical vine so they need several months of warm weather. Mulching planting beds with black plastic warms soil - perfect for giving plants a touch of the tropics and reducing weeds. Many of today's varieties are better adapted to growing in shorter seasons than varieties were years ago.


The vines of sweet potatoes tend to ramble far and wide, which is why many home gardeners don't raise them. If vines are wandering out of bounds, try turning them back into the vegetable garden. It's best not to trim vines; they help feed the potatoes.


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