Benefits of Growing Sweet Potatoes
The most beneficial benefit when growing sweet potatoes is the variety of vitamins and minerals the crop provides. Another benefit of growing sweet potatoes in the garden is the ability to produce a maximum yield of crops that will ultimately store for a long period of time on the homestead. Also, after harvested they can be cooked and used in various recipes. When growing sweet potatoes, not only are they easy to grow, but they bring different and unique varieties to the vegetable garden.
Planting the Biggest Sweet Potato
On this week’s episode, Travis is harvesting some of the biggest sweet potatoes in the garden this year. When it comes to planting sweet potatoes, we aren’t planting the actual potato we are planting what is known as slips. When you leave the sweet potato out long enough it will begin to grow shoots off of it kind of like a regular potato with buds. With the sweet potato slips, you simply pluck them off the potato, place the potato slips in the water, and they start to develop roots when placed in the vegetable garden. Travis planted his sweet potatoes around the middle of June after the spring crops were done because it just works the best with his crop rotation in the garden. However, you can also plant sweet potatoes as soon as the temperatures start to warm up in the spring and harvest them in the late summer as well. At the end of October, Travis is digging up four rows that are 40 inches long of sweet potatoes. Using the Large Shallow Tubtrug for harvesting he has dug up around 80 pounds for sweet potatoes along each garden row. Over the years, Travis has a few tips and tricks for growing the biggest sweet potato varieties. Unlike other crops, sweet potatoes do not really like to be spoon-fed with a lot of fertilizer or water making them maintenance-free in that aspect. Travis recommends hilling the sweet potatoes because not only does it make them easier to harvest but it helps eliminate weed pressures throughout the growing season. This year Travis tried a new trick for growing better sweet potatoes which included pruning back or cutting the trailing vines that grow along the middle of the rows. Around every two or three weeks, he uses his tiller to run through the rows to chop all the vines so the crops can focus all their energy back into growing the biggest sweet potato. By tilling the vines along the rows it allows for easier harvest and better production of sweet potatoes overall.
Harvesting Sweet Potatoes
When harvesting sweet potatoes, we recommend using our garden fork to easily lift and dig sweet potatoes out of the vegetable garden. Once all the sweet potatoes are harvested it takes several weeks for them to cure before they are ready to be used in the kitchen. To start the curing process, Travis begins by placing them underneath an area that is well covered, cool, dry, and aerated area. He has a storage rack that allows for the sweet potatoes to be spread out over netted shelves instead of on the ground. When the sweet potatoes are done with the curing process, then they can be kept in storage for sometimes as long as six months.