Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sweet Potatoes

Well the weathermen finally got their act together and agreed it was getting cold and not warm. Sweet potatoes don't really like the cold and the roots can start to degrade in temperatures under 55F so it was time to harvest. When I went out to harvest I found a friend on the sweet potatoes. I've never seen a praying mantis in any of my gardens before. I was wondering if they even existed here in Massachusetts. But as you can see they do. I wonder if he will come back in future years. Before taking apart the bed I moved him into the mustard patch.

My first chore was to remove all the foliage so I could get at the ground. The foliage was very very thick.

Then I had to dig them all up. The Beauregard and the Garnet grow like you would expect. With sweet potatoes growing down from the crown of the plant. But the Purple is very different in growth habit. It winds its way all over, often horizontally. There are often no sweet potatoes under the original plant at all. But they go everywhere. For some reason they liked to follow right under the board of my raised bed.

Though some even escaped their box and went into the mustard box. The left side is where that sweet potato started from. The right side is the mustard bed. I found a lot of purples just over the border in the mustards and even some in the path. They also often don't grow like most sweet potatoes in that they are long and thin. The longest was about two feet long and two inches wide. I did break it into several sections as cooking a long sweet potato like that seemed ridiculous. And after curing it will keep just as well.

And here is the final pile. I harvested almost 30 pounds in a 4'x8' section. Last year I got over 60 pounds in about twice that much space, but then I was trialing varieties and many of those didn't perform well. These are the varieties that did well last year, so I expected about 40 pounds. I'll probably talk more about what did best on Harvest Monday.


  1. I find sweet potatoes don't last long when I store them. Am I doing something wrong?

  2. Mine last until I can't store them correctly anymore. They need to be stored at 55F-60F and they last about a year. I can maintain the temp until summer hits and my basement gets too hot.

  3. They look great! I've never tried growing sweet potatoes before, but hope to in some future season!

  4. They look yummy, I love sweet potatoes we eat them a lot! I love them as french fries, or sweet roasted or in a soup, yum!

  5. Those sweet potatoes look good, they remind me of the purple Okinawan sweet potato I grew three years ago.

  6. Think I am going to have to try growing sweet potatoes myself! Love your praying mantis!

  7. Do you actually use that many sweet potatoes? I couldn't imagine how we could get through them - what a haul!

    1. Last year I got over 60 pounds. And all but a small amount were eaten. My townhouse mates love sweet potatoes too. And whenever I had a pot luck party I brought either sweet potatoes in some form or squash. I got a lot of both last year. This year I won't share as many. If I do the math, I've got 30lbs of sweet potatoes and I'll eat them from December-May usually (then the basement gets too hot), So I have 5lbs a month or about one pound a week. Yup. I can easily eat that, though I'll have help I'm sure.

  8. I wonder if the potatoes favor the boards because there is more microbial activity there. Hugelkultur beds are noted for promoting a healthy food soil web because of the decaying wood.... it provides porosity for the microbes to take up residence and also provides food for fungi.