Sweet Potato Quest


Posted by Aimee | Posted in Plantings | Posted on 21-05-2009

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Quest completed! You have attained gardening level 3! Woot! Is what I have to say to all that. I have been quite nervous about making the sweet potato bed. I have never grown sweet potatoes before, especially since back home in Missouri it was a tad cold for growing sweet potatoes, of course over the last decade or so they have come out with newer more cold hardy varieties.

Left half is beauregard and right half is O'henry

Left half is beauregard and right half is O'henry

Also, sweet potatoes are very healthy for you and they like to grow in the heat which makes them ideal for the Houston, Texas area. With sweet potatoes there are no seeds to plant, instead you plant rooted cuttings. These are very easy to make too, all you need to do is get a good looking sweet potato and put it in a flat or shallow pan half filled with damp sand, keep the sand damp, do not let it dry out. Or if need be you can just keep the flat half filled with water, however you may not get as many shoots this way. The important thing is to keep them warm, perhaps on top of the refrigerator. Once the shoots are 2-3 inches tall break them off at their base away from the potato and place them in a vase where the base is in the water and the leaves are above water. In a few days they should start to root.

After your cuttings have rooted it is time to plant them in the garden, the best method is to plant them into a generously deep raised bed, with organic time released fertilizer mixed in. Plant 9-10 inches apart and provide something for the vines to grow up if you can. The vines will root if they get a chance left against the soil. Now that I have started mine and they are planted let’s see how they do. I will be sure to update on them this fall. I am only doing 16 square feet of them. To start with I built a 4ft X 4ft bed of untreated lumber and covered the roughed up sod with newspaper. Then I dumped a 55 gallon drum of homemade compost into the bottom and covered it with peat moss and top soil mixed up and applied MicroLife fertilizer mounding the dirt up in the middle to give the plants even more room to grow. Once established plants are drought hardy, these are plants you do not want to over water. Sweet potatoes will continue to grow until overnight temperatures reach about the fifties. I will be mulching and installing some trellising for the vines tomorrow.

If I find any more pertinent information for other first time growers out there I will update that as well as my personal experience with the plant. I am still nervous even after having researched these fellows extensively just because it is a plant that I have never grown before and unlike most fruiting vegetables you cannot see the products of your labor you just have to sort of trust that they are under there. Just like my beloved Irish potatoes, you just have to trust that the beautiful plant that is growing has equally yummy tubers forming down there under the dirt. So for me getting the bed built and filled and planted was overcoming a huge hurdle of my own doubt. I could almost swear I heard the level up ding playing! =D I think that is a feeling a lot of us are coming up against, for the first time gardening isn’t just a hobby for us, but our families may depend on our productivity for sustenance. The booming of the recession garden is all over in the news as well as talks of victory gardens and for so many of us the pressure is on to make a lot out of very little. Have faith though, we can do it. We may stumble and have much learning to do but we will find our way in the end. I will have more on producing a lot of vegetables (loot) for very little cost soon.

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