Sweet potatoes are a popular side dish, especially around the holidays. Save some money and start growing sweet potatoes at home. Not only will they be cheaper, but you'll be able to enjoy them year round.
You Will Need
• Sweet potato tuber
• Garden plot
• Gardening fork
• Dark, humid storage space
• Sweet tooth
Step 1: Start early
Start your crop early, since sweet potatoes require 100 to 150 days to mature. Begin your slips indoors, about 12 weeks before transplantation.
For best results, start your slips from a tuber that is already disease resistant so that this resistance is passed on to your crop.
Step 2: Grow slips
Grow slips by submerging the bottom third of a tuber in water until it sprouts. Then transfer individual sprouts of 6 inches or longer to their own growing medium to root.
Step 3: Plant slips
Plant your slips outside when all danger of frost has passed. Transplant into mounds 8 inches high and 12 inches wide, with plants spaced 12 inches apart and rows spaced 3 to 4 feet apart.
If you don't have the space that sweet potato vines require, consider a bush variety instead.
Step 4: Water them
Water your sweet potatoes with an average of 1 inch per week, but make sure that the soil is well-drained. Excess moisture will rot the tubers. Stop watering 3 to 4 weeks before harvest.
Step 5: Care for them
Apply low nitrogen fertilizer and pesticide to limit insect damage.
Step 6: Harvest
Harvest your potatoes before frost can damage them. Use a gardening fork and start about 12 inches from the vine's center, working your way inward.
Step 7: Cure them
Leave your crop in the sun to dry for a few hours after harvest, and then move them to a dark, humid space for another 2 weeks to harden. After that, indulge your sweet tooth.
Did you know? Although sweet potatoes are commonly called yams in the U.S., yams are actually a different family of plant that grows mainly in Africa.