Recently, I read this book, mostly because I liked the cover (thrift store treasure hunting pays off):
It also had quite a bit of decent info on growing a variety of crops organically, including sweet potatoes, though it was too late to try any of the suggestions.
So I grew sweet potatoes in my normal manner this year. I made slips, I planted slips, I stood back for a few months, then I dug ’em up. (For more on sweet potatoes and how to grow them, click here and here.)
See this treasure? 21lbs of nice tubers from about a 5 x 10 space.
There would’ve been a higher yield if I had planted at a greater density – or waited a couple more months to harvest – or just planted sweet potatoes by themselves. The first sweet potato vines I planted in that bed were intercropped with other plants that later expired in the heat. Fortunately, I have a bunch more sweet potato beds that I won’t touch until November or so.
You know, I have a problem leaving things well enough alone. Sometimes I just really, really want to dig things up and look at them. This is something that amuses my wife immensely. I know… it doesn’t make sense for someone as hands-off and pro-nature as I am to get nutty about clearing beds and digging areas up before everything is ready to harvest.
I’ll bet the Best Ideas folks never do that. No, they probably have everything graphed out on charts and punched into calculators.
But – while we’re on the topic of Best Ideas, I have to say… I did adopt one thing from the book.
UPDATE: It seems you can still get this book on Amazon. Better still, it’s $0.01 – check it out:
Best Ideas for Organic Vegetable Growing
I hope my sweet potatoes do as well. This is my first year growing sweet potatoes. I have filled up a 4X8 raised bet with young "Beauregard" plants I found at Home Depot, mixed with assorted varieties of the little shrink-wrapped packaged micro-wave ready sweet potatoes I found (like you did in your other article) at Publix. I also rooted some cuttings from errant vines and planted them in an Earthbox, just to see how they fare. I had also planted a purple yam, but the termites got into that right away. Had I but space enough and time, I think I could have rooted and planted an acre of sweet potatoes just by taking weekly cuttings from that little 4X8 patch. My plan is to wait until at least Thanksgiving to start digging potatoes. No hurry I think as we have nearly zero frost danger here in St. Pete.
Yeah, you can afford to wait. The potatoes just get bigger.
Interesting that the termites preferred the purple yam. I've had them eat some of my sweet potatoes as well, though they weren't the purple ones.
I have to confess to reaching under the soil line to check the size of my potatoes just this week. I am also known to carefully check germination progress of beans (a.k.a. dig some up) when I am eagerly anticipating spring. Waiting is hard and sometimes you just gotta know!!