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Marie Iannotti

Sweet Potato Season

By October 28, 2013

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Despite all the PR about the health benefits of the sweet potatoes, many of us never give this vegetable a second thought. We certainly don't grow it very often up north. I started growing sweet potatoes a few years back, mostly on a lark. It's true that sweet potatoes need a fairly long growing season and a good amount of space, but I've grown quite a few in a limited area, in USDA Zone 5/6. You could even grow them in a large container. Mine often take on some odd shapes, as you can see, but they still taste great. Even the greens are edible. And the best part of having your own supply of sweet potatoes is experimenting with them.

Cooking with Sweet Potatoes:

Photo Marie Iannotti


November 19, 2008 at 11:22 am
(1) Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden) says:

I grew up eating the REAL sweet potatoes from my grandmother’s garden. My favorites!

Great info in your article!


November 13, 2009 at 9:00 am
(2) scottyblue says:

I’m supposed to be a gardening expert yet i have always called yams sweet potatoes.I know they are not the same but it has been stuck in my head since child hood.

Sort of fits in with your other article on botanical names.Common names can be confusing.

November 15, 2009 at 4:58 am
(3) Rob says:

I planted sweet potatoes from slips for the fiirst time this year. Easy enough to do- but when do I know they are ready for harvest? Are they the same as potatoes in that respect?

November 15, 2009 at 3:21 pm
(4) gardening says:

Rob, they are a lot like harvesting regular potatoes, except they take longer to mature. If you eat the greens, you can snip them at any time during the summer.

By late summer, you can start taking a few tubers from the edges of the bed. They may not be as large as they’ll get, but they’ll be good.

Harvest the whole crop when a frost is expected or when the tops start to die back. Once the leaves are damaged, the tubers will start to go downhill.

November 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm
(5) patsyII says:

Ms Iannotti, please describe how to grow sweet potatoes in zone 5b as I’ve tried and failed. I’m trying to grow as much of my own food as possible and sweet potatoes are important to my diet. Thanks so much.

November 4, 2010 at 1:50 pm
(6) lindamh says:

I too have tried to grow them, 2 years now, in zone 5b.
First year, with lots of compost, and got 2 carrot size sweet potatoes.
This year i put them in poor soil in garbage cans that got
full afternoon sun, and got nothing, but lots of roots.

What was I doing wrong! I was expecting a couple of bushels worth….

November 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm
(7) Marie Iannotti says:

PatsyII and lindamh, I was inspired to try growing sweet potatoes when I read the sweet potato growing information in the Sand Hill Preservation Center catalog. He’s growing them in zone 4B! He said the most important component is how much warmth they get. I won’t go into it here, since you can read his article with the link above. But in a summer with 90 degree days, you could have sweet potatoes in less than 2 months.

Since we rarely get ideal conditions, you might need to give your plants some protection. Other than heat, the 3 keys to success were:

1- Pick a variety that matures in 90-95 days. I usually grow ‘Georgia Jet’. Tainung 65′, ‘O’Henry’ and ‘Korean Purple’ are also good.

2- Start with slips that have just begun to grow roots. They establish themselves faster than slips with lots of roots.

3. Wait until the soil is really warm before you plant them, at least 70 degrees F. He plants in early July. I’m in zone 5b/6a and I plant in mid- to late June.

4. Keep them well watered, but not wet, and go easy on the fertilizer. They will get very leafy with excessive fertilizer. Better to add some compost at planting time.

Try it, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

October 28, 2013 at 2:26 pm
(8) diane says:

This has nothing to do with sweet potatoes, except that I grow sweet potato flower vines every year. This year I kept a couple of the ‘potatoes’. Can I produce more vines from them?

October 28, 2013 at 4:30 pm
(9) gardening says:

Absolutely, Diane.

You can plants the whole tuber, pieces with eyes, or make slips, just like sweet potatoes. If you want to wait until next year, just store them the same way you would other <a href=”http://gardening.about.com/od/floweringbulbs/a/StoringBulbs.htm”>tender bulbs</a>.

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