Sweet potatoes are extremely sensitive to frost and need warm, moist weather. They have a long growing season (about 150 days); in areas with a shorter season, the plants tend to produce small potatoes. Plant sweet potatoes four weeks after the average date of last frost or when the soil is thoroughly warm.
Sweet potatoes are fairly easy to grow
but they will not tolerate frost.
Sweet potatoes are planted from rooted sprouts, or slips, taken from a mature root. To grow your own slips, place sweet potatoes in a cold frame and cover with two inches of sand or light soil. (A cold frame is a sort of miniature greenhouse and can be purchased or made at home.) Keep the bed warm. Add more soil when shoots appear. The shoots will develop roots that can be planted in the garden. You can also buy slips from a reputable garden center or supplier.
A light, well-worked soil that is not overly rich produces the best roots. Plant slips 12 inches apart in mounded ridges. These vegetables do best with even moisture throughout the season until three weeks before harvesting.
Harvesting Sweet Potatoes
Dig up the roots before the first frost. The roots are damaged by freezing and cold soils.
Types of Sweet Potatoes
- Centennial, 95 days, has a short growing season and produces orange flesh.
- Bush or Bunch Porto Rico, 125 days, has compact growth and produces red-orange flesh.
- Georgia Jet, 90 days, is fast and sweet, with orange flesh.
- O'Henry, 90 days, has white flesh.
In the next section, we'll show you
how to select sweet potatoes.
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