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Sweet potato and potato planting idea from a dream

 
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Sometimes dreams are your mind talking to you when you will listen, and sometimes they are just your mind chattering. I'm not sure which this is.

I have a fence line I'm planning to put sweet potatoes along, so they climb the fence. In my dream, I put alternating plants of sweet and white potatoes (I have russets and reds to plant) spaced tightly, in that line. (Incidentally had nasturtiums and pole beans mixed in it all too.)

The logic behind it (and this is where it gets iffy) was sweet potatoes produce deeper, and later, and white potatoes produce shallower and earlier. So the white potatoes would be higher up and out before I needed to get to the sweets, and they'd also break up the soil to make it easier to get sweets out of the ground.

Is this valid or is it the potato chips I had before bed talking to me? If it's valid, it's an excellent plan, easy to do, if it was the chips... I'll plant them separate. :D

:D
 
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I haven't had much luck with regular potatoes (still tweaking the soil) but I get lovely sweet potatoes.  Maybe mine are rebels, but they seem to grow shallow.  I haven't had to dig deeply at all for them.  It may be because I normally have things mulched thickly (6 to 10 inches) once a year.
 
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Pearl,

That is actually a really interesting idea and I would be interested in trying it myself if not for two issues—Deer and bunnies.  I have never grown a crop so delicious to pests like sweet potatoes.  If I grow them, they (pests) will come.  By me I have no doubt that deer and bunnies would simply look at my would-be fence garden as a big snack bar.

Maybe you don’t have the same critter pressures that I do in which case I would try it.  I know that it would fail for me as I am in the process of building a fairly complex fence and gate system to keep the critters out.

Good Luck,

Eric
 
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Pearl, do you have your own sweet potatoes you have grown before so that you are sure of their habit as far as how deep the roots form?

Sweet potatoes vary wildly in nearly ever possible way including how deep and how far from the main stem they form their storage roots (the sweet potato). I've been breeding them for several years and I select for those that form a clump of roots shallowly and directly under the main stem. I have seen them that form storage roots as much as two feet deep and four or five feet around the primary stem. Trellising them on a fence is helpful in many ways, one for example is it keeps the vines from rooting down away from the main stem. That prevents them from being so spread out and hard to find and encourages a single group of larger roots. It's easy to just lift them and twine the vines on a fence but I've never seen one climbs on it's own like a bean does.

They also can mutate spontaneously in cloning so there is variation even within a single variety.  Say two people start with clones from the same root, variety X and maintain them separately for a period of years. After that time it is likely they would no longer be exactly the same. Point here is if you grow sweet potatoes and there is something you don't like it shouldn't be assumed what ever it was applies to all of them.  They vary for everything, flavor, color, root size, vine length, everything. If you grow some and they don't work out for what ever reason, just try some different ones.

They absolutely are viewed as candy by every critter that comes down the pike. Deer, rabbits, ground hogs, you name it and underground critters too, love the roots. Still to me they are well worth the effort to grow. Maybe the easiest and most productive crop I've ever worked with despite the extra effort needed to fend off the critters. I've never had much problem with bugs except for Japanese beetles which seem to prefer those plants with darker green or purple foliage.  On the good side they are quite tolerant of having the vines eaten. If a rabbit breaks in and ruins your vines chances are they will recover, depending on time of the season. I've had it happen more than once in a season without a significant decrease in root yield. You can also help yourself to all the fresh growth you want for salads or to steam without worrying the root yield will suffer.

I can't recommend growing sweet potatoes enough. Your idea to interplant them with other crops sounds great to me but not sure another crop that is harvested by digging is the right choice. As long as they each have enough of their own space and your sure of the depth your variety puts its roots it might work.

 
Pearl Sutton
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Mark Reed wrote:Pearl, do you have your own sweet potatoes you have grown before so that you are sure of their habit as far as how deep the roots form?


REALLY good point, no, I don't. The ones I have grown before were mostly in another climate, and VERY different soil. No clue how these will end up producing. VERY good point.


I can't recommend growing sweet potatoes enough. Your idea to interplant them with other crops sounds great to me but not sure another crop that is harvested by digging is the right choice. As long as they each have enough of their own space and your sure of the depth your variety puts its roots it might work.


Oh yes, I have grown them for years, in, like I said, a very different environment. I consider them a major staple crop. I too, try to get others to grow them.  

Someone who's opinion I trust told me "I don't think there's a large enough difference in their preferred depths for that to work." and that's pretty much the same point you are making, I don't know the depths on this type, definitely not in this soil. I'm in a lot of clay here, and at a rental, where the soil has not been supplemented to improve it.

I think I'm giving up on the idea in the main, although I'll probably do a small test area, just because.

I did have a comment on something you said:

It's easy to just lift them and twine the vines on a fence but I've never seen one climbs on it's own like a bean does.

Wonder if that's a variety trait? I had some in New Mexico get into a bamboo bed, climb them, and run totally amok. Some ended up 8+ feet above the ground. And I didn't teach them that trick, or encourage it. They are biologically related to a morning glory, and morning glories did that too, so I wasn't startled at all. I'm wondering why yours don't climb. Mine always have. Could also be a climate thing. Not sure. Interesting!

So I'll test a few interplanted, but I'll do the main interplanted with non-competing plants.
 
Mark Reed
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Pearl, did those that climbed actually twist around the bamboo like a bean does? I have had them climb to the top of cattle panels but just by growing through them and getting caught, with me helping once in a while by sticking them back through. I think it would about have to be a genetic thing, I would love to get the genetics of a true climbing habit into my mix.

 
Pearl Sutton
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Mark Reed wrote:Pearl, did those that climbed actually twist around the bamboo like a bean does? I have had them climb to the top of cattle panels but just by growing through them and getting caught, with me helping once in a while by sticking them back through. I think it would about have to be a genetic thing, I would love to get the genetics of a true climbing habit into my mix.


Yup, just like a morning glory does. Totally amok. Thinking on it, some of that year sprawled but some climbed. Hm. No clue what types I had that year, I ordered from Tatorman.com so it would have been one or more of theirs climbing.

Thinking on it, the farmers probably breed against climbers, so older or wilder types would be more likely to climb. I'm far more likely to order slips from odd sweets than standard one. Beauregard grows well, but ... blah! I like weird things :D
 
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I read on one site that some varieties are great at twining, but they believed that that trait was tied to virus susceptibility over time (?).  I also read that providing some shade for sweet potatoes makes them better climbers.  I don't have much experience with sweet potatoes as most of them don't do well here in Maine.  I have a friend that grows them, but he says he has to use black plastic mulch.  I have no interest in using plastic mulch so I've passed on this crop.  I'll likely give them another try though as I do love them.  I'm really hoping Joseph manages some of his magic and succeeds with the work he's doing with these.
 
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