Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are a warm weather vegetable; they do not grow like regular potatoes. Growing sweet potatoes require a long frost-free growing season. When thinking about how to grow sweet potato plants, realize that these particular tubers grow on vines.
How to Grow Sweet Potato Plants
When growing sweet potatoes, start out with “slips.” These are small pieces of potato tubers that are used to start the sweet potato plants. These slips are to be planted into the ground as soon as all chance of frost has ceased 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 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.
From the moment you plant the slips, it takes only six weeks for the sweet potatoes to be ready. Plant the slips 12 to 18 inches (30-46 cm.) apart on a wide, raised ridge that is about 8 inches (20 cm.) tall. You can put 3 to 4 feet (.91 to 1 m.) between rows so there is enough space to work between them when harvesting.
Growing sweet potatoes require minimal care. When you grow and harvest sweet potatoes in your garden, just 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 and pull them out that way, being careful not to injure others still growing. These are generally ready around the first frost of fall.
When harvesting sweet potatoes, you’ll find that you have plenty to put up for winter. Store these in a cool, dry place. You can have fresh sweet potatoes to enjoy for a couple of months.