By Kathee Mierzejewski
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are a warm weather vegetable. Growing sweet potatoes require a long frost-free growing season in order to do well. They do not grow like regular potatoes. When thinking about how to grow sweet potato plants, realize that these particular potatoes grow on vines.
How to Grow Sweet Potato Plants
When thinking about how to grow sweet potatoes, start out with what they call “slips”. These are small pieces of potato that are used to start the sweet potato plants. These slips are to be planted into the ground as soon as all chances of frost has left the area and the ground has warmed.
In order to grow and harvest sweet potatoes, the soil needs to be kept moist during the season where the plants sprout.
Furthermore, growing sweet potatoes requires the soil temperature to be kept at 70 to 80 degrees F. (21-26 C.). Because of the warmth required in the soil, you should start sweet potatoes about mid-summer. Otherwise, the soil won’t be warm enough for these plants to grow.
When you grow and harvest sweet potatoes, you should know that from the moment you plant the slips, it takes only six weeks for the sweet potatoes to be ready. You should plant the slips 12 to 18 inches apart on a wide, raised ridge that is about eight inches tall. You can put three to four feet between rows so there is enough space to work between them when harvesting.
Growing sweet potatoes requires minimal care. When you grow and harvest sweet potatoes, you need to simply keep the weeds down. Pluck those you see growing. It’s as simple as that.
How Do You Harvest Sweet Potatoes?
In order to harvest the growing sweet potatoes, just stick your shovel into the side of the ridge. You can feel the sweet potatoes in there and pull them out that way, being careful not to injure other growing potatoes. These are generally ready around the first frost of fall.
When you grow and harvest sweet potatoes, you will find that you have plenty of potatoes to put up for winter. They will keep in a cool, dry place. You can have fresh sweet potatoes to enjoy for a couple of months. So from now on, when you think about how to grow sweet potatoes, remember that they are not difficult, require very little care, and can yield quite a crop for the winter months.