growing sweet potatoes

moonchilekj(z8GA)April 4, 2005

Hey everybody!!!

I would like to grow sweet potatoes! Any suggestions on how to get started? I know the white potatoes have the spud that you're suppose to let grow, is it the same with the sweet potato? Also, what type of soil does it like?


Krishmaa in Meriwether County, GA

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Ray_Scheel(z8b/SS31 E. TX)

Below is a thread on starting Sweet Potato slips.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thread on starting slips

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 12:21PM
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Jacque_E_TX(Z 8a N Cent TX)

Well, first thing I need to say is that sweet 'taters are totally different plants from potatoes. That's the sad news. The other news is, I can tell you how they grow based on "up close and personal" experience:

When I was a child, my mother would (rarely) find a sprouting sweet potato in the bottom of a bin. She'd poke 3 holes around the "equator" and push in 3 toothpicks. Then she'd prop that puppy up in a narrow glass partly filled with water. She always set it in a kitchen window, right by the sink (where I did dishes). The sturdy vine grew from the top point, and the roots grew from the root point area (aka, the "wet zone"). The sweet potato vine grew rapidly, using its stored sugars for energy. Other stuff, also using the root's sugars, grew even faster, until it used up all the oxygen in the narrow water glass. Soon, the aroma of anaerobic decomposition would begin to profoundly affect my dishwashing experience. 8-p After it stank enough, she'd throw the science project away and scrub out the glass--and scrub, and scrub. (Yes, I had to get my compost-pile training from strangers. With therapy, I am slowly recovering from that early deprivation....) ;-D

So if you want to grow "science experiments," be sure to grow sweet potatoes in wet conditions.

If you would rather grow food, you need certified disease-free sweet potato "slips" (or your own s.p. roots and a sandy "hotbed" + 6-8 weeks to grow out your own slips), a wide, flat, well-drained raised bed (at least 8 inches high x 12 inces wide), mulched--and a long, hot, dry growing season. I expect you can trellis the vines.

I haven't grown a food crop, but you can probably grow them 1/1 (one per squarefoot)--or even 2/3 (2 per 3 squares in a line). They can't be hard--I even got a small crop the other year from a patch of decorative ("nonproductive") sweet potato vines, but of course I didn't eat them--the plants were not grown for food. No telling what chemicals the growers used on them.

The key conditions for sweet potato success are:
* Raised
* Long season
* Hot
* Dry

My decorative vines were planted by my garden's irrigation trench ("raised" 8 inches above the drainage floor), and they got minimal water in a long, hot East Texas summer. Therefore, they "produced."

I like the site I'm linking to--the University of Illinois. I think their instincts are right, even though they are still "row farming" a lot. "Watch Your Garden Grow" is *such* a Squarefoot-philosophy for a garden site title..... ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Sweet Potato Culture

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 12:49PM
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Jacque_E_TX(Z 8a N Cent TX)

P.S. - I need to be a bit more clear. When I say, don't grow sweet potatoes in wet conditions, I mean don't grow the final "garden" step in wet conditions. Obviously, the plants will root (from the tuber and the slip) in water. They just won't prosper *long term* as aquarium plants. :-D

    Bookmark   April 4, 2005 at 12:58PM
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You can buy sprouts at a garden center that's a farm supply/feed store type. they're cheap, and usually in bundles of 50 or hundred. they need warm ground and warm weather and the store won't even have the sprouts until its warm. Opposite of irish potatoes which you plant, as grandpa wicker always said, first full moon in february. They need a lot of space, so I don't know if they're suited to the square foot garden. they're one of the couple of things I still plant in traditional rows. The sprouts should be a foot apart, thought I do plant in double rows to conserve space. They aren't picky about soil. They grow in this southern clay pretty well. The looser the better, tho.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2005 at 1:10AM
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is it possible to grow those chartreuse sweet potato vines in january indoors in chicago and get anything pretty by the end of may?

    Bookmark   January 7, 2007 at 6:53PM
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Hi, we'll see what happends this year. I just planted 36 plants in my 4x8 foot raised bed. The instructions said to plant approx. 12 inches apart so I put 1 per square foot. I had decent luck a few years ago when I planted them with the conventional row method. The ground was very rocky though. My soil is now very soft and loose so hopefully the potatoes will do well. I always like a challenge! Will keep posted.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2008 at 10:47PM
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you planted 36 SWEET potatoes in a 4x8 bed? oh my...I planted 7 (SEVEN)last year in 2 rows of my 20x30 ft garden plot and here's what they looked like at the end of the season....(*in case you cant tell, they completely took over my entire garden!!!)

Dont get me wrong, I had a whole bunch of yummy potatoes

    Bookmark   May 29, 2008 at 6:20PM
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Hi again, for one thing I can't count evidently. I planted 32 plants. Also i forgot to mention all but four where Bunch Porto Rico. They are supposed to be bush plants. the others were White Bunch which are not bush plants. all are doing really well. It's been a month and they are just starting to vine out some. I may be run out by them but as i said I like a challenge. When I get my digital camera I will try to post pictures.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2008 at 9:23PM
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