“When all is done to death, my friend,
Sweet potato shall groweth, unto the end”
One of my favorite rooting veggie plants, sweet potato is also one the least fussy, and most bountiful growers in any veggie farm. Plant some today, and you will be growing it for life!
SEASONS: Sweet potato is a seasonal plant, though by virtue of the fact that parts of the plant remain in the soil and keep bursting into life, one may call it a perennial, or more correctly, an eternal! Sow and grow at any time of year.
PROPAGATING: This plant is extremely easy to propagate by seed or rooting tuber. Seeds are rare to find but the simpler solution is to propagate from a market-bought sweet potato. Using a pair of toothpicks, suspend a sweet potato in a glass of water so that half of it is submerged, but not touching the base of the glass. Keep the contraption in sunlight for a few days, changing the water if it turns muddy, until roots emerge from the bottom, and sprouts emerge from the top of the sweet potato.
GERMINATING: not relevant for sweet potato.
PLANTING: Plant out the rooted and sprouted sweet potato in well-drained, well-composted soil that is preferably slightly acidic – though, this unfussy plant will grow in alkaline, neutral and heavily acidic soils too. As your plant grows, re-plant stem cuttings about 4 inches apart to propagate further. Sweet potatoes grow well on open plots and in medium to large containers, that need to be deep enough to allow for growth. It is always a good idea to give this plant boundaries with limited containers or bounded plots, as they will otherwise quickly spread and colonize your entire farm area. Sweet potatoes will grow in semi-shade, but thrive in sunlight.
NURTURING: There is no need to mulch as sweet potatoes will grow rapidly to prevent weeds or any other plants from emerging. Water well and deeply – this plant is extremely responsive to good watering. Snip off overgrown stems and re-plant to propagate, or pass along to friends for a lifetime of sweet potatoes, and a lifetime of remembering you 🙂 This plant is generally insect resistant if grown in sunlight – shade will attract worms to your tubers. However, be warned, its sweet fragrance at maturity can be irresistible to monkeys and rodents. The only solution to this is to grow these plants in caged areas if you want to get to the tubers before pests do. In 4 to 6 months your sweet potato plants will be ready for harvest. The bulging of soil level will be a clear indication that it is time to dig.
HARVESTING: When harvesting, either upturn the container entirely or use a gardening fork to thoroughly dredge across the container, as sweet potatoes will be growing in every possible corner. If you plan to grow another veggie in the same space after harvest, you would need to remain vigilant and keep pulling out remainder sweet potato shoots and roots that will reappear in that space for several seasons to come, if not forever more! When you are done with your sweet potato crop, harvest, compost, replenish the soil and use that space for growing fruiting or leafing veggies next.
The never-ending saga of the indomitable sweet potato
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