SWEET FACTS ABOUT SWEET POTATOES

Growing sweet potatoes for food came from S. America around 5000 years back. If you’re growing sweet potatoes, the colors range from white to purple to brown to reddish, and the flesh colors range from white and yellow to orange and purple. In the U.S., growing orange-colored sweet potatoes is popular, both commercially and by garden enthusiasts in warmer Southern climates; they go by the name “Yams” nevertheless. For purposes of this short article, sweet potatoes and yams can be utilized interchangeably. Sweet potatoes are in the same household as early morning glory flowers.

WHEN TO PLANT.

Sweet potatoes/yams mature in 60 to 270 days, depending upon the range. They are exceptionally frost sensitive and can not be exposed to any frost whatsoever. Northern varieties are generally grown in raised beds with black plastic “mulch” to keep the soil warm and promote stronger development. In the North, cover the raised rows with black plastic to keep the soil warm and promote strong development. In warmer Southern environments, planting generally occurs in between mid-March to mid-May, again, depending on the variety picked. It is recommended that you wait to plant sweet potatoes/yams a couple of weeks after the last frost.

WHERE TO PLANT.

More than anything, sweet potatoes and yams like heat, and absolutely nothing offers that along with complete sunshine for as many hours in the day as they can get it, but a bare minimum of 6 hours daily. They can do well in warmer Southern environments in partial shade, however again, make certain they get their 6 hour day-to-day minimum. It’s important to keep in mind that sweet potatoes can be damaged by temperatures lower than 50F. Yams do best in fertile, light, and deep sandy loam. Your soil requires it to be well-drained, however wet, and nutrient-laden. There are a few varieties such as Centennial that have actually been bred to be tolerant of heavy, clayish soils. Sweet Potatoes can be grown in all sorts of soil, however they do best in the soil explained two paragraphs previous. They don’t succeed in rocky soil as the rocks misshape the roots.

PREPARING THE SOIL.

Sweet Potatoes and Yams choose somewhat acidic soil in the variety of 5.0 to 6.0, but will tolerate varieties approximately 6.5. The Sweet Potato/Yam doesn’t do too well in soil that’s too nitrogen heavy as it will put out long vines and reasonably couple of potatoes. Generally, an excellent compost will supply the majority of the Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium your yams will require. Sweet potatoes need a good supply of Zinc. Construct raised ridges – ready to 12 to 18 inches – spaced three and a half feet apart. Mix in lots of compost to your soil, about 12 to 18 inches deep. Lots of compost equates to about 4 to 6 inches deep down your rows. You should have the ability to expect about 1 pound. per foot of row planted.

PICKING THE RIGHT SEED RANGES FOR YOUR LOCATION.

The product of very first importance in choosing seeds for growing sweet potatoes and yams in your area will be the length of your growing season. Your growing season must be throughout the days total that are over a minimum temperature of 50F. Your best bet will be to talk to your seed expert at your regional garden center about which varieties succeed in your temperate zone. When you speak with your regional seed professional, also request for disease resistant ranges such as the “White Regal” sweet potato that reveals resistance to fusarium wilt, southern root-knot nematode, internal cork virus, sclerotial blight, and cucumber beetles. There are numerous other ranges, we just pointed out the “White Regal” as an example of types of readily available disease-resistant ranges.

SEEDS AND GERMINATION.

The preferred method of a lot of garden enthusiasts to plant sweet potatoes and yams is to use vine cuttings, which you can purchase from many gardening stores. Or, if you have actually currently grown your own crop, you can snip off about 6″ from the ends of the vines before the very first frost in the fall. You put these cuttings in a pail of water, and keep them in an intense, warm place until the spring. Many people do not like to have pails of sprouts in their home for months at a time, though, so they rotate on down to their preferred plant nursery and purchase slips (rooted sprouts). To plant these prior to the last frost, lay the roots about an inch apart in a non-separated planting tray, then cover them with 2 to 4 inches of sand or a light soil such as a potting mix. Include another inch of sand once the shoots appear. Keep the soil damp but not wet. And keep your soil around 80F.

As soon as the shoots reach between 6 and 9 inches, cut them off just above the roots and transplant the roots to your garden. Similar to regular potatoes, you can plant seed sweet potatoes, portions of potatoes with a couple of “eyes” in damp sand or light soil. Lay these seed sweet potatoes about an inch apart and cover with 2 to 4 inches of light soil or sand. Much like slips, when the shoots appear, add another inch approximately of sand or light soil. The seed yams will grow best at soil temps around 80F and then 70F when the shoots appear. Transplant the roots into your garden in around 6 weeks when the nighttime temps stay above 50F and the daytime temps range from about 75 to 95F.

STARTING YOUR SWEET POTATOES AND YAMS INSIDE YOUR HOME.

As pointed out in the previous section, it’s finest to use a light soil mix or sand and even sawdust to begin growing your sweet potatoes/yams inside your home. Because sweet potatoes and yams are a root crop, it’s best to use a box or tub that’s around 6 to 8 inches deep. Place the slips on the light soil or sand and cover with a couple of inches of soil. Once the shoots are up, include another inch of soil. In about 6 weeks you can bring up the shoots and roots and transplant them to your prepared garden area.

TRANSPLANTING SWEET POTATOES & YAMS.

If your soil temperature level is at least 60F, and the nighttime air temps no lower than 50F, it’s time to transplant your roots to your prepared garden area. Thoroughly pull up your sweet potato roots and bury them in the soil with a couple of leaves above the surface area of the soil. Area the slips from 6 to 12 inches apart, and space the rows 3 to 4 feet apart. If you are your plants even more apart you’ll normally get much larger potatoes. If you’re utilizing a black plastic mulch, cut a slit in the plastic and plant your slips through the plastic by pressing your shovel or trowel into the soil, pushing it in reverse, then forward and inserting the root behind the shovel. Water the new planting well.

PLANTING YOUR SEED SWEET POTATOES OR YAMS DIRECTLY INTO YOUR GARDEN.

A lot of crops you’ll plant best around or just after the last frost, and potatoes a month ahead of the last frost, however NOT sweet potatoes/yams! This veggie likes warm soil, so you’ll wish to wait about 3 or 4 weeks after your last frost to plant your slips. Plant the slips about 12 inches apart and in a hole about 6 inches deep, burying all but the top leaves.

GROWING SWEET POTATOES AND YAMS EFFECTIVELY UP UNTIL HARVEST.

As a member of the morning magnificence household, it’s not a surprise that sweet potato vines can get up to 20 feet in length or more. As the vines touch down to the soil, they’ll root and produce more roots. If you have actually utilized a black plastic mulch or perhaps straw mulch, you can carefully keep the vines from rooting so that they put their energy into the yams under the main plant which will be the larger fruit. If you’re growing just a small spot of sweet potatoes, you can trellis the vines to keep them from re-rooting. Do not over-water sweet potatoes and yams as they’ll rot in the ground. Err towards a little dry than too damp. If you have actually prepared your soil with appropriate garden compost, it is unlikely you’ll require to include fertilizer during the course of the growing season.

If you do need to, side gown your plants with well-composted manure or compost. It’s not a bad concept to use row covers if you live in a Northern environment as it increases the heat underneath the covers around 2 or 3 degrees. This can make a huge distinction to a crop that enjoys heat. When you’re growing sweet potatoes, spray your plants every number of weeks with a liquid organic leaf spray fertilizer. It naturally promotes your garden plants to produce more plant sugar in the photosynthesis process. That in turn creates a more robust plant, more produce from your garden, and much better and sweeter flavor. And they have an actually excellent warranty!

MULCHING & WEEDING.

In Northern environments, the favored mulch is black plastic. Yams are a heat crop, so any additional heat will enhance your crop. Mulch the vines 2 weeks after planting to smother weeds, conserve wetness, and keep the soil loose for root development. Another advantage to black plastic mulch is that it offers a modicum of weed control. Do not use clear plastic as it warms the soil but does nothing for weed control. Another reason weed control with black plastic works well is that sweet potatoes and yams have shallow feeder roots, and cultivating the soil around yams and sweet potatoes may have an adverse result on the health of your crop. As soon as the sweet potatoes and yams shoot out vines, they efficiently squelch weeds. If you don’t utilize any type of mulch, you’ll be required to hand pull competing weeds early in the season.

WATERING YAMS AND SWEET POTATOES.

As previously mentioned, you’re much better to err on the side of under-watering growing sweet potatoes and yams than over-watering, but naturally just the right amount is best! One great dosage of water weekly (about 1 inch of water) will usually be adequate. If the soil seems to be drying too quickly, an additional watering might be required. If you’re using black plastic mulch, drip or drip irrigation will be a lot more effective than overhead watering. As the season nears harvesting time, ease up on watering and stop altogether 2 or 3 weeks before you plan to gather your sweet potatoes. Over-watering late in the season might trigger the roots (potatoes) to break, sprout, or rot.

COMPANION PLANTING AND ROTATION CONSIDERATIONS.

Summer Savory makes an excellent companion to sweet potatoes as it reputedly puzzles and often drives away the sweet potato weevil and is said to include minerals to the soil. The majority of crops succeed following beans such as peas and beans because these crops “repair” the nitrogen in the air into the soil, benefiting any crop that follows. Some garden enthusiasts grow these crops alongside beans, however you need to safeguard the beans as the sweet potato vines might choke them out. Dill brings in hoverflies and predatory wasps and wards off aphids and spider mites to some degree. Oregano repels the cabbage butterfly in addition to the cucumber beetle. Squash and Sweet Potatoes compete because of their vine sprawls. You require both crops to offer great deals of room. Crops that rotate well are radish, beets, sweet corn, alfalfa, beans, spinach, lettuce, peanuts, and cowpeas.

WHEN TO HARVEST.

Once the leaves start to yellow in the late summertime or early fall, your sweet spuds are ready to harvest. However, you do not require to rush it as they will continue to grow and increase their vitamin content. Your sweet potatoes should balance 4 inches to 6 inches in length for a lot of varieties. You definitely don’t want to wait till frost though; as soon as it frosts, yams and sweet potatoes will quickly rot in the ground. If a frost catches you with your guard down, however, don’t fear, simply move fast to get your crop out of the ground. It’s finest to dig your sweet potatoes and yams when the weather condition is still warm and dry if possible. Utilize a spading fork or a shovel and begin about 18 inches back from the plant stem and operate it up until you get a respectable idea of how close the potatoes are to the primary plant stem. Be extremely careful not to nick or bruise the tubers as it will impact their storage longevity. You can likewise selectively harvest in mid-summer by eliminating “outlier” potatoes however not harvesting too near to the main plant stem.

STORING YAMS AND SWEET POTATOES.

The reason it’s best to harvest sweet potatoes or yams on a warm, dry day is that it’s a best practice to enable them to treat in the sun for a few hours. Even after that they save best if they can start in a warm, dry, and well-ventilated location for 10 to 15 days at 85 to 90F. After this initial drying period, the yams and sweet potatoes store best at around 55F at about 75% humidity. Admittedly, the majority of us don’t have that sort of control over our storage locations, but do the best you can to strive for that temperature in a dark area and you must be able to keep your sweet potatoes for about 3 or 4 months. Absolutely do not leave your gathered sweet potatoes on top of the soil overnight if there’s a threat of frost as they’ll be destroyed for long term storage. You can likewise freeze, can or dry sweet potatoes. More on that at a later post date.

PREVENTATIVE AND NATURAL OPTIONS TO COMMON PESTS.

Sweet potato weevils are around 1/4″ long; they have reddish-orange bodies and dark bluish heads. They puncture the stems of sweet potato and yam vines to lay eggs. The larvae then tunnel down to the roots and delight in them while the adult weevils dine on the vines and leaves. They likewise spread foot rot fungus to sweet potatoes. The two finest ways to minimize these insects is to use illness resistant slips and turn your crops to new places each year. Don’t revisit the exact same spot for at least 4 years. If you have an infestation, dig up your plants and incinerate them or send them out with your family trash.

Flea beetles are one of the worst pests. These small beetles chew holes in leaves and stems of seedling which is when they’re most susceptible, and can deteriorate or eliminate the plants. Row covers are effective if they’re entirely sealed with dirt or sandbags. Check under your row covers to ensure you beat the beatles to your plants and to make certain the weeds aren’t choking your plants either. Proper nutrition and watering likewise assists your plants resist flea beetles. Ridding the location of bindweed and wild mustard also assists. One efficient solution for these beetles is powdering your plants with diatomaceous earth. It only works if dry, though, so if it rains or you water you’ll need to re-dust your plants. If plants end up being infested, spraying natural pesticides such as Beauveria bassiana or spinosad may knock back the population of flea beetles and save your plants.

Cutworms will attack sweet potatoes and yams – usually early in the season when the plants are young and tender – at the soil line, eliminating the plant. They don’t eat the tops of the plants. Cutworms vary in color, gloss, and patterns (spotting or striping); they’re black, green, gray, brown, pink, or tan, with lots of variations in those colors. If you interrupt a cutworm, they’ll snuggle in a ball. The adult moths are likewise different in color and pattern, however they generally have about a 1.5 inch wingspan. The forewings are generally striped or spotted and are darker than their rear wings. Their colors range from white to brown to black to gray. To identify cutworms, examine around your plants, especially if one is wilting, at night. Move clouds or other particles far from the base of your plants to discover hiding cutworms. Look for cutworm droppings on the ground that’ll be an indication that cutworms have been eating your plants. It helps to make certain there’s no weeds or rotting plants on the surface of the soil where little cutworms thrive.

Rototilling your soil assists to eliminate larvae by turning decayed plants into the soil where they’re not available for cutworm larvae to feed on. Do not utilize green manure as the adult moths lay eggs in it; rather, use composted manure. If you rototill your garden in the fall, it assists to expose or eliminate larvae and pupae. If you have simply a couple of plants, you can make a cardboard or aluminum foil collar to dig in a couple of inches around the base of your sweet potatoes/yams; this makes a physical barrier to keep cutworms from feasting on the base of your plants. Diatomaceous Earth is very reliable against cutworms, however remember that it just works if it’s powdery and needs re-applied if your plants and soil end up being damp. Root knot nematodes burrow into roots and cause pimple-type growths on the roots. Currently the very best organic control of root knot nematodes is crop rotation, although there are natural solutions being studied that appear promising.

ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS Dry rot “mummifies” potatoes in storage, but can typically be avoided by saving potatoes at the correct storage temperature series of 55 to 60F. Black rot is a fungal disease that triggers dark circle-shaped anxieties on your yams or sweet potatoes. While black rot looks somewhat like “scurf” – little, black areas on sweet potatoes that does not impact the eating or storage quality – but causes yams and sweet potatoes to rot, unlike scurf. Black rot can be prevented by planting rot resistant varieties, turning your crops on the basic 4 year rotation, and not over-watering. Dispose of infected bulbs upon discovery.

Stem rot or stem wilt gets in plants that have been damaged by wind, reckless handling, or insects. Stem rot will affect the quality and production of your garden’s sweet potato crop. You can avoid stem rot and wilt by planting healthy and resistant range slips. Manage carefully when transplanting to reduce places where the fungi can enter the plant. Wash your hands prior to dealing with the slips and utilize sterilized soil. Observe stringent sanitation treatments when handling plants and cuttings. Hands must be washed with soap and water prior to and after getting in touch with plant tissue Damage infected plants if discovered. If a flat of seedlings is contaminated, it’s best to toss the whole tray away.

Scurf, pointed out formerly, are little black fungal spots on the surface of sweet potatoes that do not affect the taste or storability. Scurf is promoted by too much wetness, either from rain or over-watering, but just attacks the roots below ground and not the plant above ground. The best prevention is to plant resistant varieties and dispose of infected slips by wetting your slips and trying to find the black spores. You can dip your slips in a homemade natural fungicide. In a gallon of water add a couple drops of organic olive oil, a couple drops of environmentally-friendly liquid soap, and 3 tablespoons of baking soda. Dip your sweet potato or yam slips in this mix to successfully control fungal diseases.

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