Row by Row Episode 6: Growing Sweet Potatoes – Varieties, Tips and More!

Tips for Growing Sweet Potatoes in the Vegetable Garden

On this week’s episode, Greg and Travis talk about growing sweet potatoes in a vegetable garden. They are a crop that grows well in very warm temperatures and should not be planted until the temperatures have warmed significantly in the early summer. Greg and Travis prefer to plant them after early spring crops are finished, so they’ll put them in a spot where Irish potatoes, broccoli, lettuce, etc., have been previously harvested. Along with okra, peppers, and eggplant, sweet potatoes are one of the few crops that do well throughout the summer in south Georgia. You can plant sweet potatoes directly behind regular potatoes because they are not related and don’t have to worry about cross-pollination. Unlike Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes are grown from slips. These slips are grown commercially in big greenhouses or hoop houses. The slips, or “draws” as some old-timers call them, are plucked from the tubers, bundled and delivered to the customer. Their preferred source for slips is Steele Plant Company in Gleason, TN. There are many different varieties of sweet potatoes that will differ in the color of the skin and the inside color. Over the years, Greg and Travis have tried the Covington, Centennial and Beauregard varieties. They prefer the Covington variety as it has been the most productive in side-by-side testing. Greg explains that commercial growers will mow off the leaves before harvesting so that the potato skin becomes thicker and makes them store better. He is going to try that this year in his garden to see how well it works.

Show and Tell Segment

On the show and tell segment this week, the guys talk about the Ambrosia sweet corn that they’ve been harvesting from the garden. Greg mentions that he picked a wheelbarrow load that morning and it was currently being creamed and put in freezer bags. Although the Silver Queen variety had been their favorite for years, they are really big fans of the Ambrosia variety. They talk about the wide range of sweet corn varieties and how certain genes can determine the sweetness and storage ability of each variety. The Ambrosia variety is a bi-color corn that is in the “se”, or sugary extender, category. The tool of the week is the very popular Over the Should Harvesting Bucket, which works great for harvesting sweet corn, tomatoes, or okra.

Viewer Questions Segment

On the question and answer segment, the guys answer questions about beginner gardening tools, the frequency of using drip irrigation and hilling plants in the garden. They recommend the Single Wheel Hoe as a great starter tool for a beginner gardener due to the versatility with many attachments. Along with a couple of good hand tools like the single tine cultivator or diamond hoe. For a first year garden, they recommend 40′ x 40′ as a great starter size. Then you can gradually work your way up to a larger garden in the future if you wish to do so. They mention that they typically run their drip irrigation at least once every other day, assuming no rainfall. They discuss the importance of frequency with watering and making sure the garden plants don’t become stressed due to lack of water. Finally, they go through a list of the garden plants that perform best when hilled. Greg explains that corn, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and regular potatoes all like to be hilled in the garden. However, some vegetables like okra, cucumbers, squash, and lettuce you should avoid hilling in the garden.

Tool of the Week

Over-the-Shoulder Harvesting Bucket

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