how do I keep my sweet potato plant growing until harvest? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I have tried to grow sweet potatos for several years now but have about given up due to the maintenance of the plants. Seems that the vines will not stay put, the weeds overpower the planting sites, and I cannot till around the plants due to the vines.

What is the best way to make it until the fall haverst? We like the smaller tubers so I can always start harvesting early but I also want a large pile of huge, orange, sweet potatos without having to speand all my time taking care of the plots?


Thanks, Otter360

-- Otter360 (, January 29, 2002


Black plastic works well.

-- Barb Fischer (, January 29, 2002.


I presume by your FSU address you're in Tallahassee so what works for me ought to work for you since I'm here in Gainesville.

Wait until the soil is good and warm before planting. Sweet potatoes will just sulk in cool soil and the weeds will get the jump on them. Once planted mulch them well and keep the ground moist underneath. They really like a thick mulch.

Year before last I got vines twelve feet long and ran all over creation. Nine hills produced more than I could get in my wheelbarrow. Won't do it this year since I'm on new ground that's sandy and unimproved.


-- Alan (, January 29, 2002.

Hey - Alan, great idea! I've got plenty of mulch standing by and will take advantage of that. I have heard that sweet potatoes yeild more havest pound per plant than any other crop.

BTW, Alan good to know your local. I have been reading and refering to you food storage stuff since pre Y2k.


-- otter (, January 29, 2002.


Last summer as an "experiment", I trellised half of my sweet potatoes. The trellised sweet potatoes were bigger and had a greater yield per plant.

I raised the sweet potatoes in a 4'X4' raised bed with one plant per foot spacing (16 in the bed total). I used trellises made from 1/2 inch electrical conduit and string (See Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholemew). The spacing was so close that the shade prevented weeds from growing. I also apply a generous layer of grass clippings as mulch.

As I grow irish potatoes in trash cans, I thought this year I might try planting a sweet potato in the top of the filled barrels with some sort of simple trellis.

I also trellis watermelons and cantaloupes. Haven't tried pumpkins yet...

-- Timothy Lee (, January 29, 2002.


That's an intriguing idea. Think I'll give it a try if I can scrape up some extra old fencing to run the vines on.


-- Alan (, January 29, 2002.

I don't have an answer for you Otter, but I am interested in furthering a discussion here on potatos. I really love sweet potatos but I don't think they will grow way up north. Has anybody tried to grow them in greenhouses? I was thinking they might be an ideal plant to go up the north side of a structure. Hey Timothy, what is your method of trash-can planting (irish spuds)? Do you cut the can in two, or leave it whole? Do you fill the can with straw, or some other loose mulch, or do you fill it with soil? I grow four varieties of potatos, and I'm hoping to expand my methods, and my varieties.

-- roberto pokachinni on B.C. N.Coast (, January 30, 2002.


Off the top of my head the shortest growing season I can recall for sweet potatoes is about 90 days and they don't like cold soil. If you can use black plastic or something to warm the soil then Georgia Jets or similar short growing season variety might could be made to work.

Since you don't have to worry about pollination growing them in a green house would probably work as well. Something like half a barrel or thereabouts.


-- Alan (, January 30, 2002.

thanks for the sweet spud advice, Alan. What was your comment on half a barrel?

-- roberto pokachinni (, January 30, 2002.

first thing to grow good sweet potatoes one must build hills for the original seed potato to be put in. This is what determines if you are going to get a lot of tubers per plant, depth of original planting hill. It needs soil to grow potato's The sweet potato needs a depth of at least 2-1/ft high for the hill We always used the tiller and with a little plow attached threw the soil from two directions and mde the hills. Then if one mulchs around the plants they will do well after the runner gets going. i always pulled by hand the weeds. I never had any problem after i moved to South Carolina making the hills with a tiller and hoe and then planting the seed potatoes and then tilling till the runners got going good. I had sweet potatoes that weighed at least two lbs a piece. Always had a garden on 1 acre in Iowa so learned early in life about taters. Glenda L. heywood for a free sample email me

-- GLheywood (, February 01, 2002.

Where do you get your seed potatoes (sweet & Irish)? We are in southeast AZ with bad soil. What would you suggest?

-- Hank (, February 02, 2002.

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