This is the first season that I have grown sweet potatoes. Back in the beginning of the year as I was planning out the crops I would grow, I realized I needed another vegetable to sell in the fall and early winter. A mentor of mine recommended sweet potatoes, since I had never grown them before I went deep into research mode.
I took time to figure out what varieties I would order and where in the field I would plant them. On June 1st I planted four different varieties of sweet potato slips. I laid down drip tape to irrigate them and mulched them with straw to keep the weeds away.
Many slips got established and put out vines with lots of leaves. Some did not, as I actually think I overwatered them during the first few weeks, leading the slips to rot away. The established slips really took off covering the beds as far as their vines could reach. Sweet potato leaves became a regular ingredient for many of our summer dinners.
But with so much rain this summer and fall my sweet potato bed resembled a swamp more than a vegetable field. The field has not dried out since before August 1st. So I figured the sweet potato tubers couldn’t have developed in all that water.
Sweet potatoes are frost sensitive, meaning they need to be harvested before we get a frost. So with frost expected I decided to dig down into the sweet potato bed just to double check that there was nothing there.
To my great surprise I found a large sweet potato that was not rotten and then another and another. I actually found a few giant ones, with a single sweet potato coming in at 5.22 pounds! Once I reached the end of the row of the Covington variety I had harvested over 67 pounds.
As I dug into the other three varieties my success rate was not the same. Some of the potatoes were very small or the roots had not developed past the size of a pencil or they had rotted. So those three varieties only yielded a total of 11 pounds. Regardless of the poor yields, I was expecting 0 pounds given the swamp-like growing conditions so I am psyched with how much I harvested.
The sweet potatoes have been curing and are now ready to eat! Personally I am making special plans for preparing my hefty 5.22 pound tuber … I’m thinking of treating it like a spiral ham 😉