I’m a big fan of sweet potatoes. I grow them in beds, in the food forest, on a train, in the rain, with a goat, on a boat, etc.
Unlike many crops, you can start sweet potato beds later in the season here and still get good yields. They don’t seem to mind the heat like other vegetables. Once you have some vines growing in a pot or in a garden bed, starting new beds is easier than you might think.
In my latest video I show you a really easy method to start a new bed of sweet potatoes:
Growing sweet potatoes is easy – what are you waiting for?
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Just came in from planting some more sweet potatoes( I've got about 26 planted from slips that were potted. I realize I got started a little late this year. I'll be definitely keeping this idea in mind for next year. I'll also have some areas with a lot better soil too. I'm near the top of the sand dunes in the Keystone Heights area. We have sand and only sand. I've dug about 20 melon pits that I've filled with horse manure and leaves from all the anal retentive types who so very conviniently leave their unwanted leaves bagged by the side of the road for me. I've brought home somewhere between 150 and 200 bags of leaves for use as mulch, compost, leaf mould and melon pits(with additional horse manure). Of course that's not much for an acre and a half, but I'm working on it.
HI David, I’ve been following your method here and and now have many, many beds of sweet potato going. This is great. Two questions for you. #1 – If we start some potted sweet potato plants from our good plants, will they live in a sunny window over the winter? Or is our only option saving the actual potatoes? I don’t want to buy slips ever again and I really like being able to start cuttings right in the ground. #2 – My first bed was planted over 120 days ago, and I checked one sweet potato and it is fairly small. My understanding way that sweet potatoes were 90 day crops. Should I plan to leave them another month or two, or are they just going to be duds this year? Thanks!
I’m stuck home from church today due to vehicle issues so it’s a great time to answer sweet potato questions!
1. Yes, you can keep some alive in a sunny window over the winter. The more sun they get, the better. The vines will tend to get weak and leggy otherwise.
2. My sweet potatoes always take longer than advertised. I don’t pull them until right before the first frost of fall, that gives them maximum time to grow. Also, if they root at multiple spots along the vines, the potato growth is diluted a bit – your best sweet potatoes are right at the base of the vines. Some people pull the running vines up and toss them back towards the center of the patch without disturbing the very center of the plant where they were first put in the ground. This concentrates the growth on the main bundle of tubers.
Leave them until the very last minute. You might also feed them some compost tea if they’re not growing vigorously.
Thanks, David! I’m sorry to hear about your vehicle issues and hope all is resolved. I didn’t realize that bigger potatoes grew near the nodes. I’ll give them some more time and try again, and closer to winter I’ll try to get some healthy ones started as potted plants. Thanks again!
The biggest potatoes are at the very start of the vine where you planted the first slip – along the nodes further out, the potatoes are much smaller. Look at the very center.
As for my vehicle, it’s in the shop now but I have a nice one I’m borrowing.
The problem was actually two-part and ridiculous. My horn decided to go off continuously due to a short (making a very annoying drive home to my place until I could cut the wire – ha!) and then one of the wheels decided to get a crazy wobble a couple of days later on Saturday evening.
On the upside, I’m debt-free on the vehicle… on the down side, it’s a piece of junk. I should turn it into a greenhouse.
Hey David. Recent big fan of the site. I’ve spent far too much time here, and caught myself re-reading the same article more than once already.
Buuuut.. I just put up my first trellis for vines yesterday.
Anyway, do you cut from the main vine or are you cutting from the side leaves/shoots?
Also, which book of yours should I start with?
Thanks in advance.
Thank you, Peter – I appreciate it.
If you’re in Florida, I recommend “Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening”. “Grow or Die” is also really packed with info and will take a new gardener to a proficient gardener quickly.
The leaves on sweet potatoes won’t root – you need vine pieces. Just take 6-8″ pieces and plant them. I’ll cut a bunch of pieces from one long vine sometimes.
Good work with the trellis. Now you need some Dioscorea!