I tried sweet potatoes this season. I wasn’t sure if we would have enough time for them to get big. Plus they like really hot, damp climate like in the South where they are grown a lot. Sweet potatoes take between 90-170 days to mature. Yikes! Many varieties would not mature here in our short season. I ended up getting a variety called Georgia Jett because it has one of the shortest growing times—90 days to harvest. It has orange flesh.
I got a dozen sweet potato slips in spring. They arrived in the mail too early to plant. And they were not in good shape when they came. I had to keep them alive in the house till the weather and soil warmed up in late spring. At first, I put a damp paper towel in a plastic bag with the slips to keep moist. I lost 7 of them. Then I eventually had to put them in a glass of water where they started producing roots. As it got close to planting time, I put them outside in a bucket with water. I planted them in June in Wall of Waters as the nights were still cool, We had a late snow on May 20. Five survived.
Well it turns out those five slips filled and overflowed the 10′ x 4′ raised bed. They are easy to grow and not much bothers them, plus no bugs. They just need water and heat, which we got plenty of heat this summer. They are beautiful plants. I’m not sure where I coulda put the other 7 as they are rampant growers and need space. Plus I didn’t know they are related to morning glories and have a beautiful flower which is smaller than a morning glory flower. Another bonus!
They have now been harvested and many of them are very large. They are curing inside the house because they must be kept warm during the curing process. Curing is a hardening off process for veggies like squash and garlic to harden the skins and in this case to sweeten them as well. When you dig them out, don’t wash off the dirt while they are curing. They have to cure for 10 days in a warm space. After that, you can lightly brush off the dirt but still don’t wash them till just before use. Store them in a dark space like regular potatoes. I don’t know about the flavor yet as they are still curing inside the house but they look good. I’ll let you know when I eat some of them about the flavor.
Where are you in the Bay area? Got any smoke yet from the Kincade fire?
FYI-We ate some of the really small sweet potatoes (the size of fingerlings) tonite. I roasted them. They were great!
Congratulations. I have grown sweet potatoes here in Santa Fe the past and they did very well. Thanks for the reminder, maybe I will put some in next year.
Where can we get the slips? From you?
No I ordered them from Guerneys online. If you live in an area that gets freezes in late spring, be sure to get a later shipping date…
That’s pretty cool. I know they are grown near here, but I know of no one who grows them in their home gardens. I have not tried them yet just because I don’t cook with them. I must get proficient with potatoes before I try these. Potatoes do well, but I do not do them regularly.
In the photo of “Growing Sweet Potatoes in Santa Fe? Yes!”, it is apparent that you used row covers. I am now growing sweet potatoes in SF for the first time. They are flourishing and have
entirely filled my row cover that is 24 inches wide and about 12-14 inches high at the midpoint of the bamboo hoops. My question: If and when should I remove the row covers to allow the vines to expand further? They have not started to blossom yet. There is no evidence of insect infestation.
Do you think it is safe for removal of the row covers yet? Your recommendation will be greatly appreciated.
Hi Gene-If you already have them covered, I would just keep the row cover over the bed but not pinned down tight. It is soo hot right now that I’m sure your plants are liking the shade the row cover gives. Not sure if you have hoops that you can attach the row cover to the bed (like in the picture) but it would be helpful. Otherwise make the row cover very loose. Although sweet potatoes like heat, I’m not sure they will like this extreme heat with our ultraviolet waves (think sunburned plants). I would wait to take off the row cover once we get a little relieve from this inferno heat we’ve been having. I just let them overflow into the paths. I have everything covered right now as several crops have fried…Good luck!