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Photo: How To Make Sweet Potatoes © 2006 Stopnlook

Photo: How To Make Sweet Potatoes © 2006 Stopnlook

Sweet potatoes are delicious and fun to grow. However, to grow them successfully you first need to understand how to plant sweet potatoes correctly. You will need to know how to pick a location, how to prepare the soil, plant the sweet potato slips, and water afterwards.

How to Pick a Location

Sweet potatoes like other vegetables thrive in full sun. Your garden should get at least 6 to 8 hours each day of unfiltered sunlight. The slips will be tender in the hot sun, if you wait too long into the season to plant sweet potatoes, but you can cure this by using overturned pots to shade them for about 4 days until they get their start.

How to Prepare the Soil

The soil can be worked as soon as winter freezes are over. You will need to loosen the soil a good 6 to 8 inches down. These potatoes need plenty of soft soil to grow their large tubers. Roots need to be able to spread unhampered to grow strong plants. The soil condition is very critical to the success of your crop. It should also drain well, because too much water could cause problems for the roots. Make sure to remove any rocks and other debris. Break up the soil until its texture is fine. Add about an inch of compost and thoroughly mix it into the soil. A lot of people like to use Miracle Gro Organic Compost. You can find out why by reading our other article all about using Miracle Gro Organic Compost.

Photo: Unexpected Garden Surprise (YIP-156) © 2009 Eunice

Photo: Unexpected Garden Surprise (YIP-156) © 2009 Eunice

How to Plant Sweet Potatoes

You can grow your own slips for sweet potatoes, but for these instructions, we are going to assume you have bought them. Be sure that there is no chance of frost before you start to grow sweet potato plants. Make rows in your garden 3 feet away from each other. This will allow the sweet potato vines plenty of room to grow. Then dig holes that are 3 inches wide by 4 to 5 inches deep about 12 inches apart along each row. Only the bottom half of the slip goes into the hole. The rest stays above ground with its leaves. Gently push soil into each hole and press down lightly to remove any air pockets.

How to Water New Slips

These newly planted slips will need a thorough watering to get them started. You can mulch the slips to help the soil hold the water in better. Then they will need watering on a daily basis for the first seven days. Then you can water a couple times a week after that until the plants begin to vine out. At this point, you can go to once a week watering. Of course, if it has rained, you may not need to water until the soil has dried a bit. Never let the soil go too dry, as this may harm the plants ability to grow. Some people like to install an irrigation systems around the garden, just like the Am-Tech Watering Irrigation Kit.

When to Fertilize

It is advisable to fertilize sweet potatoes about 14 days after you plant them. You want to give them a fertilizer that contains potassium, as this is important to their growth. One that is 5-10-10 would be ideal to provide these potatoes with the right nutrients. Follow package instructions on the quantity needed for your size of garden. Just gently work the fertilizer into the top layer of soil as not to disturb the roots of the plants.

How Long before the Sweet Potatoes are Ready to Harvest

It will take your sweet potatoes about 90 to 100 days to mature to the point where they are ready to harvest. Dig up one of the vines to see if the potatoes are of usable size. You need to do this carefully using a garden fork bring the mature tubers out of the soil.

Follow these tips above and you will not only know how to plant sweet potatoes, but also how to grow them to maturity. These potatoes are so flavorful on your table you will enjoy growing them on your own. Now that you’ve learnt how to plant Sweet Potatoes you can move onto learning more tips on organic gardening and growing your own vegetable garden.

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