• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • paul wheaton
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
  • Joylynn Hardesty
stewards:
  • r ranson
  • James Freyr
  • Burra Maluca
master gardeners:
  • Steve Thorn
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Ash Jackson
  • thomas rubino
  • Carla Burke

A question on sweet potatoes

 
gardener
Posts: 2777
Location: Southern Illinois
488
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hello everyone, and thanks in advance especially for those experienced with sweet potatoes!

I absolutely love sweet potatoes, but I have never had any luck growing them thanks to deer and rabbits.  I just finished gating/fencing off the bed where I hope to grow sweet potatoes this year.  

I got the sweet potatoes through the mail, and they took about 3 days longer than expected in transit.  They arrived in ok condition, there was some dried foliage but I *Think* the roots were ok.  I got them planted out last Thursday (5/14/2020), and when I checked on them today (5/18/2020), I noticed no new foliage.

Now I know that sweet potatoes grow like weeds and love hot weather, with ours being quite cool and moist this spring.  I am wondering if anyone out there has better experience growing sweet potatoes than I have and I am wondering if there is anything I can do to help them along.  This is probably impatience on my part, I am hoping that there was still life left in those roots.

For the record, the sweet potatoes are planted in thoroughly broken down woodchips inoculated with wine caps.  I fully expect the bedding is very fertile.

Again, thanks in advance, both for your input and alleviating my impatient anxiety!

Eric
 
pollinator
Posts: 1574
Location: northern California
182
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Sweet potatoes are wholly tropical and they don't like cool!  Even mature vines will quit growing at any temp much below 65 or 70.  If your weather doesn't warm up quickly I would consider potting up the cuttings and bringing them inside.  You won't lose any growing season since they won't grow out there anyway.  Or you might make a bunch of covers, like gallon milk jugs with bottoms cut out, to give them some more warmth in place.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2777
Location: Southern Illinois
488
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Alder!

I do hear you about sweet potatoes loving the heat.  I might just try the milk jug idea as I would hate to un-plant the slips, but our cool weather certainly does not help them a bit.

Typically in this area sweet potatoes are sold out by mid to late April which is really too early to put them in the ground.  I assume that you think the little slips still have life left in them.  I can’t imagine that they would die in such a short time, but again, I have never grown them successfully.  I have gotten them started, but critters ate the greens before the potatoes got any larger than my finger.

Eric
 
gardener
Posts: 1500
Location: South of Capricorn
532
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I plant them in 9b, and when starting them from sprouting roots (not slips with leaves where you can be watching for new visible growth) they can be really pokey. They'll be all over the place before you know it, though. And you are going to have such an easy time harvesting them from nice soft wood chippy soil!!
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2777
Location: Southern Illinois
488
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thanks Tereza, that’s what I was hoping for!

I would imagine that 9b would be a great climate for these veggies.  I the past, I have gotten some substantial vines before the bunnies showed up and stripped them bare.  And yes, I am hoping that the woodchips makes them easy to harvest.  I might have to post a picture, but my new fence/gate looks pretty good on the raised bed.

Thanks a bunch Tereza,

Eric
 
pollinator
Posts: 2914
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
268
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have grown them from slip in Boston (New England) from slips, with no greenhouse or extra care. And I get tubers over 1lbs from Georgia Jet. The other cultivars do well too. So you should be fine, planting them out in the "cold"
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2777
Location: Southern Illinois
488
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
An update on sweet potatoes,

So earlier this year I planted out 8 sweet potato slips.  That was during the overly cool portion of this cold spring.  Well the heat finally arrived with gusto!  We went from rather cool to much warmer than average over about a 2 day period and it looks like the heat is here to stay.

4 of the 8 plants died.  It would appear that they could not hack the cool weather that dominated for so long.  But the 4 that survived look like they are loving the heat and are starting to grow nicely.

This is leaving me with a little paradox:  sweet potato slips sell out before the weather is ready.  I wish I could buy them later than I did, but I am afraid that if I wait much longer then the slips will be sold out.

Thoughts?

Eric
 
master steward
Posts: 3624
Location: USDA Zone 8a
1027
dog hunting food preservation cooking bee greening the desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Now that you are growing them can you make your own slips?  I am totally ignorant on growing them though I love to eat them!
 
S Bengi
pollinator
Posts: 2914
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
268
forest garden solar
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe the 4 that survived was of a different cultivar and they are the right fit for your site.

There is always the option to buy early then keep them indoor/greenhouse.

You could put a 3ft high hoop house over them, its shouldn't take up too much time, thus making quick and dirty 'greenhouse'
 
master steward
Posts: 7844
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
2286
hunting trees books food preservation solar woodworking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The solution (or at least one solution) is to buy the slips and pot them up inside in a hot sunny place.  They'll root into the potting soil and then you transplant them out when you want.
 
gardener & hugelmaster
Posts: 1786
Location: mountains of Tennessee
685
cattle hugelkultur cat dog trees hunting chicken bee homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
https://tatorman.com/

Mine struggled early in this season too Eric. We had a late cold snap. Most if not all are thriving now.
 
Tereza Okava
gardener
Posts: 1500
Location: South of Capricorn
532
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Anne Miller wrote:Now that you are growing them can you make your own slips?


Hopefully you get a good harvest, you save a nice looking tater, and get it sprouting somewhere. I took a sweet potato that was too small to eat and did the old toothpick-and-glass trick to make slips. Then after I harvested, I saved a small potato that still had some roots and a stem, and put that in a glass, it is out there sprouting for me to plant next spring. Once you get started you'll be good, it is really easy to make slips. (even if you throw a sweet potato in the back of your cupboard, you should get some sprouts).
 
Posts: 28
2
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Now that the 4 are growing rapidly, you can cut about a foot off growing vine tips and plant them out.   They will replace lost plants fairly quickly, just keep them watered for a week or two.
 For bigger sweet potatoes, don"t fertilize very much. Low fertility caused plants to store more food in tubers for perceived coming hard times.
 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2777
Location: Southern Illinois
488
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Everyone,

Thanks for all the tips and help!  

Mike, I am thinking that I will indeed try to start indoors next year.

Tereza, with just a little luck I will get a tater worthy of using for making my own slips.  I actually wanted to try this, but I wanted to make sure I got an established variety and I wanted one that was not sprayed with anything to prevent budding, as many supermarket varieties are.  Now I should have a good breeding stock for the future.

Ralph,  I think once the foliage really gets established I will try cutting and transplanting a 6 inch or so section of vine in the established 4 holes.  In the past, I would plant the slips and indeed, they would grow vigorously and establish quite dense growth before critters ate the foliage back.  But even after being trimmed back, they grew back with a vengeance only to be eaten back again.  So I know the explosive growth potential of sweet potatoes and now that they are gated in, I expect them to grow without fear of being eaten back every couple of weeks.

I think I finally got a hold on getting these guys to grow now.  The cool spring definitely did not help, but at least I have 4 plants established and growing.

I really appreciate all the help.  I will keep this updated as I am pretty sure that I will have questions in the future.

Thanks everyone,

Eric
 
Posts: 45
Location: SE Indiana
44
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm in southern Indiana and sweet potatoes grow very well here so I imagine you will soon arrive at a system that works well for you. The issue of critters eating the vines is a problem for me too. I grow a lot in pots which keeps the vines up off the ground a little and also sometime trellis longer vines. That protects them from rabbits but of course not from deer but I can't grow much of anything without fencing against the deer.  Inside the pots the roots are also protected from burrowing critters and makes them easy to harvest. Some varieties work better in pots than others of course. I actually breed them from true seed, selecting, among other traits for those that adapt well to that.

I find them super easy to clone, any three or four inch of stem can be rooted into a new plant and as long as they are out by mid June or so there is plenty of time for them to mature here in IN, I would expect the same in IL. They do vary but as a rule they are also easy to clone from a saved root, I just stick them in some wet sand about mid April to make my slips.

If you have to buy your slips when it is too early to plant I would recommend just sticking them in some small pots and keeping them in a bright window till time to put out. *They seem to me to do a lot better as fresh starts so I would take new cuttings rather than setting out a root bound plant, all they need to start over is a couple little root nubs on the stem and a lot of water for first week or so.  

I don't think there is a good definition of maturity in sweet potatoes. There is no point where they are ripe like with a tomato, ready like with sweet corn or dry like with a bean. They are roots not tubers, and different ones take longer to grow to size. I regard maturity just as the point where roots are big enough to make a nice serving for one or two people. I prefer a plant that makes several single serving sized roots to those that make fewer very large roots. I shoot for what I call maturity (from seed) in 100 days or less.

I'll keep an eye on your progress as I'm very interested in the experience of others in a climate similar to mine. I'm working with a seed company now in hopes of arranging to have seeds for sale next spring.





 
Eric Hanson
gardener
Posts: 2777
Location: Southern Illinois
488
transportation cat dog fungi trees building writing rocket stoves woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Mark,

I certainly appreciate your input as you are more experienced than me and we are geographically close to each other.  I you live in southern Indiana then I live a bit south of you as I live in Southern Illinois.  Nice to know there is someone out there with experience in the same general location.

I just got back from the garden and the 4 sweet potatoes’ foliage is about 2-4 inches long and looked pretty healthy.  Now that we have some heat I expect them to take off soon.

Thanks for the input, I will update as things develop,

Eric
 
It's exactly the same and completely different as this tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic