We've recently planted three sweet potato plants. We have the golden one but there are also white and purple types. Sweet potatoes are a very good crop to grow if you're in a warm climate. They won't grow in the cold. You can easily grow sweet potato from a store bought tuber. You should buy an organic tuber not only because often the others have been sprayed to prevent them from sprouting, but also because it will be a healthier living tuber. Pick a healthy looking sweet potato that is unmarked and firm. When you get it home, place it in a warm and sunny spot and wait for it to produce shoots. This could take anywhere between a couple of days to a month, depending on how warm the weather is. When you see the shoots, you'll know that the weather is warm enough to plant.
Two weeks before you plant, choose a sunny spot with good drainage and enrich the soil with compost and aged manure that is dug in, watered and allowed to sit. When you're ready to plant, cut the sweet potato into pieces depending on how many shoots are growing. If you only have one growing point, don't cut, but if you have two, cut in two, if three, divide it in three. Try to give all the growing points enough tuber from which to grow.
Make a hollow in the soil about 8 or 9 cm/3 inches deep and place your tubers in, with the shoots to the top. You'll need about 30 cm/12 inches between each cutting. Pack the soil in around the tuber, leaving the shoots exposed. Water in with seaweed tea and cover with a straw mulch. Sweet potatoes like to be watered in well, but after that they don't need a lot of water. If it rains, don't water, but water once a week if you have no rain. Repeat the seaweed tea every month to keep the plants healthy and growing well.
The biggest problem you're likely to have with sweet potatoes is that the vines will take over the garden. We are going to grow ours over the top of the chook house to help protect it from the summer heat. If you find the vines are taking over, cut them back a bit. Don't cut them off completely, but you could easily take of a third of the growth.
Sweet potatoes are a fairly easy crop to grow and they're a good staple food to add to your diet. You can use them in any recipe to replace potatoes - to top a Shepherd's Pie , as chips or mash, or baked, golden and delicious in the oven. Classified as one of the super vegetables, they are a significant antioxidant and contain vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, copper, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin B6 and beta carotene. They are a good food for diabetics and for people with arthritis and other inflammatory disease.
When you harvest your sweet potatoes, be very careful not to bruise or cut the skin. Any damaged tubers should be the first eaten. Cure the remaining perfect tubers by drying them in a cool dry place, not the fridge. They are cured properly when you can't rub the skin off with your finger. Long term storage should be in the coolest room in your house, pack the tubers in baskets lined with newspaper and cover the basket with a towel. This allows the tubers to breath without sweating. Home grown sweet potatoes won't rot as quickly as the store bought ones.
If you live in a warm climate and are just coming into the end of spring, you can plant your sweet potatoes now. They should be ready to harvest in about 16 weeks time - early March.
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