How to grow sweet potatoes in your pot or garden
Sweet potatoes grow well in lean areas and yield a large amount, making them a perfect vegetable for starting a vegetable garden. Another advantage is that the outbreak of pests is low and maintenance is almost unnecessary. In recent years, varieties have been improved, and there are various types such as those specializing in sweetness and those pursuing texture. It is also good to grow several kinds of sweet potatoes and enjoy the taste comparison. In this article, we will introduce a wide range of sweet potato profiles, basic information, types, and how to grow them.
What is sweet potato?
Sweet potato is a root vegetable of the genus Ipomoea in the family Convolvulaceae. The place of origin is Central and South America, and the optimum temperature for growth is 16 to 36 ° C, and 20 to 30 ° C is suitable for the enlargement of potatoes. It prefers a warm climate and is cultivated mainly when the temperature rises sufficiently and there is no concern about late frost. If you prefer lean soil on dry soil and apply too much fertilizer, the above-ground vines will grow thicker and the potatoes will not get fat, causing the phenomenon of “vine blur”.
Surprisingly, sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C and vitamin E, and are said to be effective for beauty and beautiful skin. In addition to β-carotene and vitamins B1, B2 and B6, it is also rich in minerals such as potassium and iron. It has a high content of cellulose, which has an intestinal regulating effect, and can be expected to relieve constipation.
Sweet potato cultivation time
Cultivation of sweet potatoes starts from planting seedlings around April – May when the temperature rises sufficiently due to the nature of favoring a warm climate. Once rooted, it grows freely even in thin areas, so it requires little maintenance. Harvesting begins around October, beyond the summer. It is a recommended vegetable for dietary education in families with children because it yields a large amount of potatoes and can harvest plump and fat potatoes. The inspiring experience of exploring and digging in the soil will surely be an unforgettable memory.
How to grow sweet potatoes
So far, we have touched on basic information and types of sweet potatoes, cultivation time, and so on. From here, I will explain in detail how to grow sweet potatoes as a practical version of vegetable garden life. We will delve step by step on how to plant seedlings that are different from other vegetables, how to manage them on a daily basis, how to harvest and preserve them, etc.
Preparation of seedlings
Unlike potatoes, which start with seed potato planting, cultivation starts with seedling planting. It’s surprising, isn’t it? Seedlings have been on the market since May and are sold in bundles at home improvement stores. Moreover, it has no roots! You may be worried, “Isn’t this rooted even if you plant it?” In fact, sweet potatoes have “cutting ears” distributed as seedlings, and strictly speaking, they should be regarded as starting from cuttings. Since sweet potatoes have a strong vitality, many potatoes can be harvested by cultivating them from cuttings. It is understandable that it is described as a “famine crop” that has saved people’s hunger many times from the fertility of sweet potatoes and famine caused by bad crops.
For vine seedlings, select fresh seedlings with thick and supple stems and 5 to 6 leaves. Choose one with short internodes and tightness. It is often said that “avoid yellowed lower leaves and rooted ones”, but as long as the stems are not rotten, there is no problem with growth.
After purchasing the seedlings, separate them one by one, arrange them on newspaper, and dry them in the shade for 3 to 4 days. This is a technique called “hardening”, which is performed to overcome the problem of poor survival due to strong sunlight when planted in a fresh state. Soak the wilted seedlings in a bucket filled with water the day before planting and let them absorb enough water from the cut end. Then, it absorbs water and the foliage becomes crispy and regains momentum. This treatment makes it easier to root around the cut end of the seedlings and improves the survival after planting in the field.
Sweet potatoes prefer well-drained, lean areas. In the place where the crop was grown in the previous crop, fertilizer remains, so it is better to grow it without fertilizer. In addition, suitable soil acidity ranges from pH 5.0 to 7.0, and there is no need to spray soil lime. If you want to start new cultivation in a place where no plants are planted, sprinkle 500g of compost and 30g of slow-release chemical fertilizer per square meter about 2 weeks before planting. Plow well and make soil. If left for a while, the fertilizer components will decompose and the soil will mature, making it easier to take root.
The best time to plant sweet potato seedlings is from May to mid-June when the temperature is high enough. When planting, it is recommended to choose a cloudy or light rainy day as the seedlings may be damaged on a sunny day. If the weather is fine, work in the evening.
The width of the ridges is about 1 m, and about 20 to 30 cm of soil is piled up to make a semi-cylindrical high ridge. This is because sweet potatoes prefer a well-drained environment, and if they are cultivated and filled well, the fatness of the potatoes will also increase.
A black mulch film is stretched on the high ridges to raise the ground temperature, and soil is piled up in all directions to prevent it from being blown away by the wind. The black mulch film does not allow light to pass through, so it is also a countermeasure against weeds.
Make a hole in the black mulch film at a distance of about 30 cm in the center of the high ridge. Make a planting hole about 10 cm deep, lay the seedlings that had absorbed water the day before, lay them diagonally, and cover the stems with soil before planting.
For 1 to 2 days after planting, it is even better to gently cover the non-woven fabric and pour soil around it to fix it. It protects the seedlings from strong sunlight and wind.
In early October, when the ridges rise, it’s time to harvest. Don’t be greedy, “Isn’t the potatoes getting fat the longer they are left in the high ridges?” If the temperature drops below 5 ° C, the potatoes will be damaged, so don’t miss the right time to harvest. The sap secreted from the cut end of the sweet potato vine cannot be removed if it gets on your clothes, so please wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty when working. First, peel off the black mulch film and cut off the sweet potato vine that spreads so as to cover the ridges with a sickle. Insert a shovel blade about 30 to 40 cm away from the root of the plant to dig up the soil, and search the surrounding area by hand to remove the sweet potatoes.
Let’s grow sweet potatoes in the vegetable garden
Sweet potatoes are easy to grow, so they are recommended root vegetables for home gardens that start in early summer with the aim of harvesting in the fall. When you carefully dig into the soil at the right time for harvesting, you will find rugged and fat potatoes, which makes you feel as if you are looking for treasure. Perhaps the blood of the farming people makes a noise, the eyes of people who dig potatoes shine brilliantly regardless of age or sex. Why don’t you grow sweet potatoes at home and enjoy the joy of harvesting?
Images via: Canva