How To Grow Sweet Potato Vines At Home

Growing Sweet Potatoes is very easy in tropical and sub tropical climates. (And not difficult in cool climates, either.) In fact, the question is not how to grow sweet potatoes, it's rather how to stop sweet potato vines from taking over the whole garden! Sweet potato is a very invasive creeper... But even though they can be a pain in the you know what if not managed (harvested regularly), you absolutely have to grow sweet potatoes! Why? Sweet potato is one of the most useful food plants in a warm climate:

• Sweet potatoes are the perfect substitutefor normal potatoes. • Sweet potatoes have less disease problems. • Growing sweet potato vines is much easierthan growing other potatoes. • Sweet potatoes are very nutritious. • And sweet potatoes grow with little water and fertilizer. You can use sweet potatoes in the kitchen just like you would use potatoes. Boil them, steam them, mash them, fry them... But sweet potatoes have more uses: • Young sweet potato shoots and leaves are yummy in stir fries and salads. • Sweet potatoes also make a wonderful quick growing ground cover. • You can use them as a living mulch and to keep weeds down. So, how do you grow sweet potatoes, and how do you keep them under control?

How To Grow Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato plants are fast growing vines that cover the ground. Originally they come from Central and South America, which means they area warm weather vegetable. You need a long warm season to grow good sweet potatoes. There are sweet potato varieties with red, yellow and white tubers. The red ones have the highest vitamin A content, and have become the most popular variety. But all sweet potatoes are very nutritious in general, especially if you use the leaves and shoots, too. You'll be hard pressed to find a plant that produces more nutrition per square metre than the humble sweet potato!

What Sweet Potatoes Like And Dislike
Sweet potatoes like growing in sandy soils, lots of sun, lots of space, and a reasonable amount of water and nutrients. They love heat. The hotter it is the faster they grow.

cover them with soil. A sweet potato also grows roots from every leave node that develops as your cutting grows. Place them on the ground. but it has no benefit whatsoever. other than for demonstration and teaching purposes. it makes them grow lots of leaves but no potatoes). You can use any shop bought sweet potatoes. Remove all the leaves except for the tiny leaves at the very tip. with the top third above the water. Slips will grow from the eyes of the tuber. (Otherwise you may end up with small. The tubers will develop shoots. Planting Sweet Potatoes The best soil for sweet potatoes is sandy. It's nice to watch for children.Sweet potatoes don't like heavy.) The soil should have a good supply of nutrients. Plant the cutting by covering the whole length with soil. Do not use fresh manures or any fertilizers high in nitrogen (like pelleted chicken manure). The original root will continue to produce more slips. but they can grow in all soils. . pointy end down. called slips. Simply cut a piece of a runner. Slips can be snipped or pulled offand planted out when they are about 15 cm in size. You'd just end up with lots of leaves and no tubers. about a foot (30 cm) in length. Raising the beds improves the drainage (very important) and gives the tubers a nice deep soil to develop in. Some people root the slips in water as well. Not just the leave nodes under the ground will root. Rooting any plant in a glass of water does not make sense. If you can't get hold of cuttings you can start growing sweet potatoes by planting the tubers. waterlogged soils. You can plant those shoots out just like the slips grown in soil. Propagating Sweet Potatoes The quickest and easiest way to grow sweet potatoes is to use cuttings. only the leaves of the tip should stick out of the ground. You can do that by putting a tuber into water. cold weather. bent and forked sweet potatoes. If you have heavy soil plant sweet potatoes on mounds or ridges. The cuttings will root at every leave node. and fertilizers high in nitrogen (like chicken manure. Growing Sweet Potatoes In Water It's a popular project in school classes: growing sweet potato vines in a glass of water. and keep them moist. for example from digging in mature compost.

the freshly planted cuttings need to be watered regularly. Space your cuttings or slips about a foot apart in a row. for example seaweed extract. so I planted some sweet potatoes as a ground cover under most of my fruit trees. or walk around feeling for a lump. and now my whole orchard is covered in sweet potatoes. They will take about 16 to 18 weeks to mature in warm weather. Harvesting sweet potatoes .. so the best way is to plant a few cuttings every week or two. at six weeks of age. Sweet potatoes don't keep well after harvest. I have plenty of space. They did extremely well. (May in the northern hemisphere.Growing sweet potatoes requires some space. In a cool climate you may indeed have to get by with a single planting. It's too easy. I did. longer in cooler weather. Make sure plants don't become waterlooged.) How much water? How much plant food? Although sweet potatoes are a very tropical vegetable they can get by with little water once established. unless you are a commercial grower. Once the sweet potatoes grow they will choke all weeds down themselves.. not nitrogen. and maybe once more at twelve weeks. with three cuttings. But in the tropics one big spring planting does not make sense. Growing sweet potatoes the lazy way If you have enough room you can also plant a permanent sweet potato patch. Compost that had lots of wood ash in it is even better. Soon. so plant them where they can spread.) Mulch thickly between plants and even between the beds to intially keep the weeds down.. and start digging. and you don't find yourself with a big pile of them all at once. and when I want some sweet potatoes I can usually find a few there.. Just make sure you use a balanced fertilizer. Or whenever you remember to do it. However. If you think the quality of your soil is not good enough fertilize your plants at planting time. November in the southern). (Read more about growing sweet potatoes permaculture style here. Avoid high nitrogen fertilizers. Root crops like potassium and phosphorus. Sweet potatoes do need four to six months of reasonably warm weather to mature. (If you plant in rows. Just one row of one metre length. I just look for a thickened stem. A sprinkle of sulfate of potash also doesn't go astray. When I started growing sweet potatoes I didn't plant in rows. If your soil isn't free draining it's safest to grow sweet potatoes on mounds. That way you can grow sweet potatoes all year round. and leave three to four feet between rows. For planting time the general recommendation is to plant a patch in spring. They don't need any care. that is.

and the larvae tunnel through the roots and make a rotten mess of them. . stems. Dig up the whole crop. it does not affect the plant or tubers. your sweet potatoes will be ready. An adult weevil is a metallic blue and orange and about 6 mm long. that way you don't transfer any weevils. That way weevils will never be a problem again. It eats everything. Problems when growing sweet potatoes In the tropics sweet potatoes have one serious pest. and when you carefully lift the plant with a fork you should find two or three sweet potatoes at the base. You can harvest sweet potato leaves and young shoots at any time. and that's the sweet potato weevil. Plant slips or cuttings. depending on the temperatures. leaves and roots. If you have problems with sweet potato weevils you can't grow a permanent sweet potato patch. Just use the other sweet potato growing method. You will see that the original stem of your cutting or slip will have thickened. don't leave any tubers in the ground.After four to six months. The weevils lay their eggs in the roots. and start afresh with cuttings in a different bed.

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