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Sweet Potatoes, Beautiful and Productive

sweet potatoSweet potatoes are my summer crop. They grow heartily with no care from me, they push out any weeds that are trying to take over, and they produce a large harvest of beautiful spuds after a few months. The vines are so prolific here that they spill out of the beds onto the lawn, where they root and keep right on growing.

I usually buy bare root plants from one of the garden supply places on line. Here in South Florida, the variety Bauregard grows especially well. I plant 1 per sqauare foot (don’t worry, they spread out and multiply quickly) and that’s it. When I get the bare root plants, they look half dead. The last time I got them, because the weather was inclement, it took a few weeks before I could plant them. I kept them in a vase of water on the counter. They did just fine. In fact, they’re very hard to kill. Even after planting them, they all fell down flat and looked dead. But in a week, they were perked up and thriving. Within weeks I had a lush ground cover of beautiful vines. Three months later I had spuds.

Digging up sweet potatoes requires a pitch fork of some kind so you don’t mar the potatoes. There are always a few newer, smaller tubers hanging from the top vines, but the real treasures are deeper in the soil. Gently lift them to the surface with the fork or your hands, and let them dry for a day on the surface of the soil. Then brush the dirt off and store them in a cool dry place. They’ll keep for weeks as long as they’re not damp.

Happy gardening!

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