Growing sweet potatoes in my garden every year is a must! I bake and cook with them in the fall and winter and I can’t imagine not having them around! They’re very simple to grow, let me show you “How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Containers”!
Sweet potatoes are thought to have been domesticated from Central and South America. Actually, it is said that Christopher Columbus took sweet potatoes back to Europe with him after his first voyage to the Americas.
I absolutely LOVE sweet potatoes!
They are not only incredibly healthy for you, but studies ranked the sweet potato #1 vegetable in overall nutrition.
Sweet potatoes are a good source of fiber and Vitamin A, but they also boast of Vitamin C, manganese, copper, pantothenic acid and B6.
They can be enjoyed so many ways!
I love them as a side dish with loads of butter and salt, but you can make quick breads, pies, casseroles and even stir-fry!
What’s the Difference Between a Yam and a Sweet Potato?
Sweet potatoes are a member of the bindweed, or morning glory family. This explains the gorgeous vinery and flowers that they produce, so beautiful to look at!
Yams are an entirely different root crop. They are from the yam plant family of Dioscoreaceae, and are dry and starchy.
The term “yams” has been used synonymously with “sweet potatoes” in the southern US, but this isn’t accurate. They are a completely different plant species.
NOW you know!
Sweet potatoes aren’t grown from seeds, but rather “slips”.
(You can order slips here!)
Slips are sprouts from another sweet potato.
Slips are super easy to grow!! (This might remind you of an experiment you did in the first grade!)
In order to grow sweet potato slips in water, you will need….
- -An organic sweet potato (tuber) from last years crop, the grocery store or health food store (make sure that the potatoes haven’t been treated against sprouting)
- -A jar with mouth large enough to allow for each sweet potato
- -A dozen or so toothpicks (4 per potato)
Wash your potato with a mild soap to get off any dirt or bacteria. Dry well.
In a “T” shape, insert your toothpicks into the top half of the sweet potato.
Next, fill your mason jar about 1/2 way with water and slowly place your sweet potato in there. If the water is a little too high, pour some out. The bottom fourth of the potato should be immersed.
Every few days, replace the water. After a week or so, you should start to see little sprouts coming out of your potatoes!
Alternative Way to Grow Slips
You can just as easily lay the seed sweet potato in a shallow pan of water, like a re-purposed aluminum pan and accomplish the same results. Make sure the sweet potato is 1/2 way covered with water.
Exciting! So when the sprouts look something like this, pluck them off gently and put them in a jar of water by themselves, so that they can root.
Once they have a good root system, you should plant them in small pots or containers, which will give them a good start. Keep them on a sunny window sill.
Once the chance of frost has past, you can plant them outside in your garden.
Sweet Potato Growing Conditions
They are very sensitive to frost so wait to plant until 4 weeks or so after the last frost.
Always add well-rotted compost to your soil, your plants need it to feed off of.
Sweet potatoes prefer well-drained soil in a sunny spot with warm conditions. Loamy soil with a pH from 5.0-7.5 will grow your best sweet potatoes!
Create hills that are about 8″ tall to plant your sweet potato slips in. Plant all the way up to the leaves and then press the soil firmly.
Space your plants about 18″ apart to give them room to spread out. The vines will grow vigorously and produce a beautiful foliage.
Be sure to mulch around your plants to reduce weeds but to also keep the soil as warm as possible.
Water at least 1″ per week but take any rainfall into consideration.
When to Harvest Sweet Potatoes
Nature has it’s way of letting us know when the mother plant is finished producing.
The sweet potato leaves will begin to turn brown and die back. If you want more well-developed flavor and nutritional value, wait to harvest until just before the first frost. Past this point, your tubers will rot very quickly.
Use a large garden pitchfork to harvest your sweet potatoes. Be careful to dig at least 12-18″ around the plant so that you don’t accidently pierce your tubers.
Sweet potatoes need to be cured in 80-90 degree temperatures for 10-15 days, in a dry place.
Recipes for Sweet Potatoes
Crispy Sweet Potato Fries
Cinnamon Sweet Potato Muffins
Finally, everyone favorite pie recipe for Thanksgiving, Sweet Potato Pie!
Enjoy and grow your own sweet potatoes this year for all of your recipes!