Sweet Potato Growing Guide
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Sweet Potato
Growing Guide

What Are Sweet Potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are a root vegetable that is packed with nutrition. Sweet potatoes are typically a reddish–brown color on the outside and a pale yellow or orange on the inside. They usually have a long, tapered shape and can range in size from small to large. They are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, and many other vitamins and minerals. Sweet potatoes tend to be much more nutrient–dense than regular potatoes. They are a staple food in many countries and are used in a variety of dishes, including baked goods, casseroles, and soups. Sweet potatoes are a great vegetable to grow in the garden, as they are hardy, easy to grow, and have a long harvest season. Sweet potatoes are also a great choice for gardeners because they are relatively pest and disease-resistant, and can be stored for a long time. Additionally, sweet potatoes can be grown in a variety of climates, even in cooler regions.

How to Start Growing Sweet Potato

To grow sweet potatoes, you’ll need well-drained soil and a warm, sunny spot. Start by planting sweet potato slips in the spring after the last frost date. Plant slips outdoors 3 to 4 weeks after your last spring frost or once the soil has warmed to at least 65°F (18°C). Nighttime temperatures should be at least 55°F (13°C). The trick is to plant them early enough for them to have time to mature fully, but not so early that they get killed by a late spring frost. Bury each slip about a foot deep, with the top leaves sticking out of the soil. Water regularly and keep the soil consistently moist. When the vines begin to grow, mulch around the base to keep the soil moist and control weeds. Keep plants in full sun.

Did you know?

Sweet potatoes were first domesticated in South America over 5,000 years ago. The first recorded use of sweet potatoes in Europe, however, dates back to the mid-16th century.

Sweet Potato Plant Spacing

In-Ground Planting

Row Spacing - 3 to 4 feet

Plant Spacing - 12 to 24 inches

Planting Depth - 4 to 8 inches

Raised Bed Planting

Row Spacing - 4 feet

Plant Spacing - 12 to 24 inches

Planting Depth - 4 to 8 inches

Sweet Potato Soil, Irrigation, & Fertilizer

Soil Requirements To Grow Sweet Potato

  • Well-draining, high phosphorous soil
  • pH between 6.0 and 6.5
  • Rich in organic materials
  • Good quality compost added to the soil

Sweet Potato Irrigation Requirements

Sweet Potato plants need at least 1 inch of water per week. Using drip irrigation is always recommended to be sure that your plants are getting moisture directly to their root system. If you’re using conventional overhead watering techniques, try and use something like the Dramm Watering Can and water and fertilize at the base of the plant to keep moisture off the leaves.

Raised Bed Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 6.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Sidedress 2 cups of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer per 10 ft. of row.

Every 14 Days (After 1 Week Planting)

Mix 1 tablet each of Dr. Joe Nutri Bubble -AND- Dr. Joe Tomato & Vegetable Bubble into 1 gallon of water. Apply as a drench per 4 plants.

In-Ground Fertilizer Schedule

Several Weeks Before Planting

Test your soil at your local extension office.

1 Week Before Planting

After adjusting soil pH to 6.0 – 6.5, mix 1 1/2 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil.

2 Weeks After Planting

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer -AND -1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. of row.

Alternate Every 14-21 Days

Using the Hoss Fertilizer Injector, Mix 1 cup of Hoss Premium 20-20-20 Fertilizer AND 1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. row

Sweet Potato Pest & Disease Protection

Insects

Organic Controls

Garden Insect Spray
Thrips, Horn Worms, Cabbage Looper

Horticulture Oil
Aphids, Stinkbugs, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Spider Mites

Bug Buster-O
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies

Take Down Garden Spray
Aphids, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies

Diatomaceous Earth
Cutworms

Non-Organic

Bug buster II
Aphids, Wireworms, Stinkbugs, Flea Beetle, Whiteflies, Grubs, Thrips, Armyworms

Treat as needed using label instructions.

Common Diseases

Organic Controls

Crop rotation and select resistant varieties
Blights, Fungal,  Viral and Bacterial diseases

Do not plant in same area for 3-4 years

Harvesting, Preserving, and Storing Sweet Potato

Harvesting Sweet Potato

Harvest the sweet potatoes when the vines begin to yellow and die back, usually in late summer or early fall. Carefully dig around the roots and gently remove the sweet potatoes from the soil. Allow them to cure in the sun for a few days before storing. To harvest sweet potatoes, wait until the foliage begins to yellow and die back, usually in late summer or early fall. Carefully dig around the roots with a garden fork or spade. Gently lift the sweet potatoes from the soil, being careful not to damage them. Brush off any excess soil and let the sweet potatoes cure in a warm, dry place for a few days to allow the skin to harden. This will improve their storage potential.

Storing Sweet Potato

To store sweet potatoes, keep them in a cool, dry place with good air circulation, such as a pantry or root cellar. Avoid exposing them to temperatures below 55°F, as this can cause them to develop a sweet, woody flavor. Do not wash the sweet potatoes before storing, as moisture can encourage spoilage. Instead, simply brush off any excess soil and place them in a single layer in a paper or mesh bag. Sweet potatoes can be stored for several months in these conditions. To extend their shelf life, inspect them regularly and remove any that show signs of spoilage, such as soft spots or mold.

Peep Our Potatoes!

Sweet Potatoes Tips & Tricks

Mulching

Mulching sweet potatoes is an important part of growing a successful crop. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weeds, moderates soil temperature, and prevents the spread of diseases. Use a 2–3 inch layer of organic mulch, such as straw, dry grass clippings, shredded leaves, or wood chips, around the base of the sweet potato plants. Keep the mulch a few inches away from the stems to prevent rot. Reapply mulch as needed throughout the growing season.

Snacking Alternative to Potatoes

Sweet potato chips and fries are a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional potato chips, fries, and skins. Sweet potato chips, fries, and skins are typically seasoned with a variety of spices, such as chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, or cumin, even cinnamon sugar. They can also be enjoyed simply with a sprinkle of sea salt. Sweet potato chips, fries, and skins are a great choice for snacking, as they are lower in fat and calories, higher in fiber, and offer a better source of vitamins A and C than regular potatoes.

The Leaves are Edible!

Sweet potato greens are the leafy green tops of the sweet potato plant, which are edible and commonly consumed in many parts of the world. They are rich in nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, calcium, and antioxidants. Sweet potato greens can be prepared in various ways, such as sautéing, stir-frying, steaming, or boiling. They have a slightly sweet and earthy flavor, similar to spinach or other leafy greens. They can be used in salads, soups, stews, or as a side dish. When choosing sweet potato greens, look for young, tender leaves that are bright green and not wilted. Wash them thoroughly before cooking and remove any tough stems.

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