How to Grow Sweet Potatoes
Instructions for Growing Sweet Potato
in Your Vegetable Garden
Sweet Potatoes (Yams) are considered a tender garden perennial, but are grown as annuals. This vegetable requires a long gardening season of at least 150 days.
Gardening Tip for growing Sweet Potatoes - Sweet Potatoes are not well suited for container gardening, unless as an indoor houseplant (which will not yield a crop).
Sweet potatoes offer: Dietary Fiber, Potassium, Chromium, Manganese, Magnesium, Copper, Iron, Vitamin A, B6
Warm days and warm nights are needed for growing sweet potatoes, with a minimum of 4 months of frost-free gardening.
NOTE: This vegetable is very hard to grow in cooler climates.
Growing sweet potatoes will work best in a very sunny location with sandy loam soil. The garden soil pH level should be 5.5-6.0 for growing sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes have very deep roots, so dig the garden bed very deeply. The deeper the prepared soil, the bigger the tubers will be.
Note: Sweet potatoe plants don't tolerate competition from weeds in the garden. Consider mulching to help keep weeds down. (Weed around young plants, but once the plant is established, the sweet potatoe vines will crowd out most weeds.)
Growing sweet potatoes can be done in hot areas all year round. In warm climates, plant from spring to mid-summer.
Sweet potatoes are grown from pieces of sprouted tubers (as with potatoes). Plant the seed pieces in garden beds with rows 3 feet apart and 14” between plants. Hill the rows to 10”. Water the plants immediately after planting.
To grow your own sprouted sweet potato tubers, take healthy mature tubers, and place in a propagating bed. Cover with 3” of sand. Keep the sand warm and moist. When seedlings are 6”, gently remove them and transplant them.
Keep the soil moist. When the seedlings appear, reduce watering, but keep the soil moisture level constant (mulching helps this).
Gardening Tip for growing Sweet Potatoes - When growing sweet potatoes, too much water can cause the roots to rot.
If you dig in a complete fertilizer and compost before planting, you shouldn't need to fertilize again.
Note: Don't use poultry or high-nitrogen fertilizers for growing sweet potatoes. This promotes too much leaf growth, and subsequently, very few tubers.
When growing sweet potatoes, there should be few pest or plant disease problems.
Gardening Tip for growing Sweet Potatoes - Practice good vegetable gardening by rotating your crops within your garden space with each new season. This prevents many plant diseases.
When growing sweet potatoes, allow 5 or 6 months for the tubers to reach maturity. Harvest before the first frost arrives.
When harvesting, be very careful not to damage the potato or skin (this affects its ability to keep in storage). Cure for 10 days at approx 85 (F) degrees in a well ventilated covered area, then store at approx. 50 degrees (F).
If frost comes before you can harvest, immediately cut off all the vines, to prevent the tubers from being spoiled. Then dig up the tubers.
After curing (drying) for 10 days at 85 degrees, store in bushel baskets or crates in a cellar at 50/60 degrees. Be very careful not to damage the skin or bruise the sweet potato.
Note: the advice and information contained herein is based upon our experience and study. As with any advice, please apply at your own discretion.