Sweet potatoes aren’t really potatoes. They’re tropical plants with edible roots in the morning glory family. As such, the harvest should be cured differently to create a sweeter flavor.
- Start by planting after the last frost. You can do slips or plant an entire sweet potato. Make sure the soil is loose and nutrient-dense as these are heavy feeding plants.
- Apply a dense layer of straw or mulch at planting time to retain moisture and prevent weeds. I do 10-12” thick. Grow undisturbed all season—no pruning of vines is necessary.
- Stop watering about 7-10 days before you plan to harvest. This prevents cracked skin on the potatoes.
- Harvest with your hands if possible by carefully moving back the vines, soil, and mulch. Lift without a shovel to avoid puncturing the potatoes.
- Sweet potatoes need heat and humidity to cure. I harvest mine when the forecast shows temps are soon to dip and the plant begins to yellow. Do not wash the tubers.
- A shady dry table outdoors is great for curing. Sweet potatoes need 80°F+ temps and 90% humidity according to The Farmer’s Almanac. Cure for two to three weeks before storing long term in a dark, cool, aerated location.
- Sweet potatoes are an amazing ground cover in food forest systems and also do well when grown with sunflowers!
NOTE: deer LOVE sweet potato vines
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead® LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
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