Sweet potatoes are fun to grow for food or as a houseplant. I get the occasional sweet potato that decides to volunteer itself for planting. It begins sprouting little runners and leaves seemingly overnight. I then have to make the decision to pluck off the new sprouts or place the potato in the ground and let it continue to grow. If you are thinking about planting some of these yummy tubers, then here are 5 things to know about growing sweet potatoes.
5. Don’t Plant Them Too Deep
You need to plant the potato starts just deep enough that they are covered with dirt, but not so deep that the leaves have a hard time reaching the surface. I find that about an inch of dirt covering the sprout is plenty. I have yet to have an unsuccessful harvest of sweet potatoes.
4. Water Them but Don’t Drown Them
Sweet potatoes like lots of water. After all, they are mostly water. While they may like a hardy drink now and then, they will begin to rot if left in standing water too long. Once the leaves start to form on the vines they will provide a little more shade and the water will evaporate more slowly. This means you won’t have to water the plants as much as before. The leaves will also let you know if you are slacking on the watering. If they begin to wilt, give the plants a good drink.
3. Fertilizer Isn’t Necessary
Covering your sweet potato plants with organic compost will help them grow, but you don’t need to invest in special fertilizers. Organic matter consists of decaying leaves from the yard, animal manure, and even shredded newspaper can be used. Mix everything together and dump in on your sweet potato plants.
2. Remember They Are Vines
Be sure to give each plant plenty of room to spread out. The basic spacing between plants should be around a foot or a foot and a half apart. If you are planting multiple rows, make sure each row is 3 to 4 feet from the next one. They might look like they are really far apart in the beginning, but the plants will soon fill in the gaps between one another.
1. Mice Can Be Bothersome
Vines get nibbled on occasionally by field mice. If you have a barn cat or an outside cat that roams freely around the yard, then you might not have to worry about mice attacking your plants. You might want to invest in a mouse trap of some type of you notice your sweet potato plants are getting nibbled at.
I think anyone is capable of having a successful crop of sweet potatoes. These are easy enough to grow in the pantry, so why not try planting a few in the garden and see what happens. Even if they don’t end up producing new sweet potatoes, the dark green vines make a beautiful addition to the garden. What made you interested in growing sweet potatoes?
Top Photo Credit: A Worthy Image