Gardener’s Diary: Sweet Potatoes 101

| 11/5/2009 11:58:58 AM

A photo of Shannon SaiaOne of my interests, which is rapidly becoming urgent, is in root-cellaring, and my first project in this area has been figuring out what to do with all my sweet potatoes.

The sweet potatoes were a great success this year. It was my first time growing any kind of potato, and I knew exactly nothing about it. I ordered “seed potatoes” from Johnny’s for banana fingerling potatoes and for Beauregard sweet potatoes, and my first lesson in sweet potato cultivation was that I didn’t receive “seed potatoes” from Johnny’s at all. I had expected them to look like the fingerling seed potatoes, so when I found these in my mailbox on the 7th of May – wilted, from having spent over 24 hours in there – I was mystified.

Two banded bunches of wilted sweet potato slips.

I was not at all expecting plants…and to top it off, I received twice what I had actually ordered. I let Johnny’s know, and they told me that they had accidentally shipped the order twice and that I could keep them both, free of charge. Very nice of them; and after my successful year with both of the potato varieties that I grew, you can bet I’ll be ordering more seed potatoes and sweet potato slips from Johnny’s again this coming spring.

So I put 27 of these very sad looking things in the ground, following the planting directions that came with them, and they looked like this.

Three wilted sweet potato slips just planted

S.M.R. Saia
11/23/2009 12:46:56 PM

KC, the vines were very pretty. I think they'd be a great thing to grow as a ground-cover, and I don't see any reason why you couldn't grow them up the fence. Good luck!

KC Compton_2
11/23/2009 10:33:22 AM

This sounds like a great project--and what an amazing harvest! Were the vines pretty as they were growing? I have a fenced area just outside my bedroom's patio door and I was thinking of planting sweet potatoes next spring if they'd vine up onto that fence. One of my favorite quick dinners is to bake a sweet potato and have it with a chunk of cheese and whatever salad-like materials I can find in the fridge. --KC

S.M.R. Saia
11/9/2009 8:58:37 AM

Hi James! I'm in Maryland. I'm not sure where Johnny's is but I don't think they're local to me. I ordered on-line and I get their catalog. So far the sweets are holding up under the counter. Nothing is getting soft and every time I reach in there for one they're just fine. I'm looking forward to enjoying them all winter! If I hit the limit for how long they'll keep this way I'll post it. Good luck! Shannon

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