Why Grow Sweet Potatoes?
This warm-weather crop can be planted as late as July or August, but Travis is planting them in May this year because he wants to harvest them a little earlier in the garden. The sweet potatoes typically take around 100 days to harvest. There are several health benefits to growing sweet potatoes such as they provide a variety of vitamins and minerals. Once sweet potatoes are harvested they can be cooked and used in various recipes. When growing sweet potatoes, not only are they easy to grow, but they bring unique varieties to the vegetable garden.
Planting Sweet Potatoes
On this week’s episode, Travis is planting one of the easiest crops in the vegetable garden, In late February, Travis planted red potatoes and the Blue Belle variety in the garden. Since regular potatoes are in the nightshade family and sweet potatoes are in the morning glory family they can be planted directly behind each other in the same spot. When planting regulars potatoes, we should wait till the little buds grow off then cut the potato into pieces and plant those pieces. However, with 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 the regular potato with buds. With the sweet potato slips, you simply pluck them off the potato put them in water and they will start to develop roots when placed in the vegetable garden. Travis’s favorite company to get sweet potato slips from is Steele Plant Company in Gleason, TN. The two varieties he is going to plant this year are Covington and Centennial. When preparing the garden for planting sweet potatoes, at Hoss Tools we strongly believe in the fad system which stands for furrow, amend, and drip. So first we create a furrow along the garden row using the Double Wheel Hoe with the plow set attachment. Next, Travis will take his good compost and amend the furrow that he just created. Then, he will add the drip tape system to ensure we get an accurate amount of irrigation directly to the plant roots. When placing the drip tape in the garden for sweet potatoes you can simply lay it to the side of the plants until we hill the potatoes. The sweet potatoes will be planted on three-foot row spacing in the vegetable garden. Due to our drip tape having emitters on 12-inch spacing this allows us to dictate where to place the sweet potato slips. Since sweet potatoes are vining plants they will grow vines on both sides of the row. To control the vines, Travis likes to take the dura rake and rake the vines back into the plants along the row. This will help create a dense foliage canopy that reduces weed pressures and allows a clear path to walk down the middles of the garden area. Once the sweet potatoes are fully mature, you can simply dig them out of the ground like regular potatoes.