Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sweet Potatoes Out

I had decided that I wasn't going to pull my sweet potatoes yesterday. I knew with the weather report getting cooler and rainy that I should. But I went out gleaning carrots. After hours of pulling, the last thing I wanted to do was deal with digging up my sweet potatoes. But as it was getting later I got a second wind. Half way through I regretted my choice, but at least I got it done before the cold wet weather started.

If you remember, two weeks ago I pulled half of my sweet potatoes. I wanted to see if leaving them in for the extra time did anything for them. Some extension services says the sweet potato will continue to grow until the soil temperatures reach 50F some say 65F. That is a huge range. And my answer is, I'm not sure. But I don't think there was much of a difference. I got a lower yield out of the second half of the bed. But I did get the biggest of the sweet potatoes. I think if I want to in the future, I can just pull them in the middle of September. If they do grow once the soil drops below 60F I really doubt it is significant. So I'm going to go through the production numbers for the potatoes putting all the harvests together.

I did notice one difference between the two sides though. I had barely any damage on the early pulled potatoes and I had a few potatoes with significant damage on the late pulled ones. It is not enough to really be a significant difference I think. It might just be random location but then it might be how long they are left. Supposedly what eats them is wireworms. I do have a few wireworms in the beds. Nothing huge. I wonder if I got less damage this year because of the really cold winter. If so I hope we get another cold winter this year. I like having pristine sweet potatoes that don't need surgery before eating.


I grew three types of sweet potatoes. Garnet is a misnomer in my book as its flesh is still orange, but the skin is at least more red. I harvested a total of 20.8 pounds. 3.9 pounds was in a pot by my front door, which turned out to be a great way to grow them. The rest, 16.9 pounds was produced by 9 plants for 1.9 pounds per plant. I had a good handful of annoyingly small potatoes and a nice amount of medium sized ones which are the most useful in the kitchen.

Purple and a few Beauregard

Beauregard is a traditional orange one and had a tiny yield of 1.5 pounds for six plants. Three died to a late cold snap and the other three never really produced much.

Purple is the biggest producer and is nice because it is purple all the way through. It is a great way to get your anthocyanins. In past year I've had long snaky sweet potatoes from this plant. This year they grew into huge tubers. Often there was just two per plant. But when I say huge I mean it.

The largest of them was over two and a half pounds. What in the world will I do with such huge potatoes? I can't bake them as it would take forever, and it would take a lot of nights to get through just one potato. I might end up mashing them and freezing some. Or cubing them for salads. I can imagine a nice kale and sweet potato salad for the winter. The few regular sized ones that were produced, I'm going to save for starting slips for next year. I always mark them with some tape so I don't accidentally eat them.

The Purples produced 20 pounds from 7 plants. Or 2.9 pounds per plant. Which was the best yield of all. Of course I can't really say they always produce better than the Garnets. The Purples had the best spot in the bed. The part right next to the brick, so they were hotter than the Garnets. And we don't get all that hot here, so added heat is a real bonus for the potatoes. I think next year I'll give Garnet the place of honor and see if they can out produce Purple that way. Not that it really matters. I want both an orange and a purple sweet potato, so they will both be grown even if one is 50% more productive.

Overall I harvested about 38 pounds from the bed, which is better than a pound per square foot. I usually shoot for a pound per square foot over all in the garden. Some crops do a better, some do worse, but it is nice to know that the sweet potatoes are finally pulling their own weight. Last year they didn't quite make it, but they were not in the nice brick (and hence warmer) circle garden. This year they put out 8 pounds more with the better location. I'm slowly learning how to get the best production from my new garden. Every time you start over with a new space it is a learning process. This is the fourth here year and I'm still learning. I think it never stops.


  1. 38 pounds is a lot of sweet potatoes, nice job! You are so right about the learning process, it never ends but I think that's a big part of the fun of gardening. I really enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to get the best from my garden, testing the limits, observing the differences from year to year. Which is also one reason why I like blogging about my garden, it is so interesting and useful to go back and see what happened in past seasons.

  2. Congrats on those sweet potatoes! It would be nice if you could figure out a way to get more heat for all the sweet potatoes. And I'll echo what you and Michelle said about continually learning how our gardens do. This is my 8th season here and I am still learning from and improving on my garden spot.

  3. You are right about the learning process. In our hobby area there are too many variables to be confident that we have learned everything there is to be learned. Every year is different, even if you grow the same varieties every year.

  4. Wonderful yield on the sweet potatoes! As for learning in the garden - ditto, ditto and ditto...

  5. I am so impressed with your sweet potato yield. Over a pound per square foot is amazing!

  6. What a great harvest! It's been interesting reading about your adventures in growing sweet potatoes. I tried them once, last year, and my harvest was horrible, not even worth saving (sweet potatoes the size of a nail!). But I suppose I did plant them in one of the worst places in my garden, so maybe next year I'll try growing them in a better spot.

  7. I have never grown sweet potatoes although I should since my wife loves them. Me? Now so much. Learning process? Definitely. Our old house had some shade trees nearby but this house has no trees whatsoever. The garden gets sun ALL DAY.

  8. sweet potato SOUP, daphne! with some fresh (not powdered) ginger in there - yum! one of the favourite soups my mum makes.
    soooooooooo jealous - we can't grow sweet potates in our climate.