Sweet Potato Harvest 2016

I grew sweet potatoes last year for the first time and I was hooked. They are easy and delicious and keep very well in the cellar. Last year I planted 12 slips of Beauregard and 12 slips of Purple sweet potatoes, all from Sow True Seeds in Asheville, NC. The Beauregard grew well, but we did not get much from the Purple. Some of the slips died during transit, as it was mid June and it had turned hot.

This year I bumped up the volume and planted 36 slips of each, and experienced the same thing – a bountiful harvest of Beauregard and only a few Purple. I shared a picture on Instagram and tagged Sow True, and they mentioned some difficulty growing the Purples – and I will get to that below.

So, here are the fields! Buried under there are three raised beds – a 5×8′ bed and a 4×12′ bed were planted with slips, but they overgrew one bed that I got some secondary potatoes from.

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And below is the third bed planted, a 4×8′ raised bed.

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I went out last Sunday to dig them up when the weather was warm. The high was in the 80’s and it was sunny! I had only rained once in 2 weeks, and that was last Thursday. I had not been inspecting the plants, so I was really surprised when I came out to dig and saw this! Most of the Beauregard were big and clumped with their tips slightly above the dirt. Fantastic! It reminded me of an iceberg, with just a little bit of the whole bulk of potato showing above.

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Here is my son and one of my daughters, out helping dig, rip out vines and collect the sweet potatoes.

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And here is the whole crew, finished with one 4×8′ raised bed – two full buckets! They probably weigh 40-50 pounds each.

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And there they are, the beauties!

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Now, I did get some Purple sweet potatoes dug up that were large, but maybe only 10-20% of what I got with the Beauregard. I am wondering if they require more water. They are delicious, so I will try again next year. I assumed they can be grown like the Beauregard, so I was very surprised when I dug some up that were rooting! The tuber still feels firm, so I just pulled off the roots and will eat them.

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After some research, it appears that I am right in suspecting watering. These type of sweet potato are called “Okinawan” and were first grown by the Japanese there.

“Growing ‘Okinawan’ sweet potatoes in U.S. climates can be done, but the variety was specifically bred for the weather that is consistent of the islands such as Okinawa and Hawaii. It is noted by professional sweet potato growers that it doesn’t prefer the conditions of the mainland. It prefers to be watered multiple times per day, likes rich, nutritious soil and sunny, warm conditions.”

So, if I were to try them next year, I would need to increase the watering schedule.

Overall, I am very happy with the yield!! Just in time for some sweet potato pie at Thanksgiving!

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Thanks for stopping by! Happy Gardening!

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