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Considering sweet potatoes...

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Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  buttaflie143 on 6/1/2011, 5:20 pm

My neighbor just brought me 9 Beauregard sweet potato plants/slips? Can I grow them in my box? Spacing says 12", so that means one per square. Any experience with sweet potatoes anyone? Is the 6" depth enough or do they need more? I have three squares where i was trying to grow carrots, but the rascal tossed them again looking for seeds I guess, so maybe the sweet potatoes will work...(sorry for thinking out loud). I would like to give it a try and I have read through some of the other posts on sweet potatoes, but some direct information will be very helpful at the moment. I would like to get them in the ground tonight.

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 6/1/2011, 9:06 pm

buttaflie, You and I are alike in curiosity. I'm trying to grow sweet potatoes for the first time in my life. Like you, I worry about the depth of the usual SFG, so have them growing in dedicated pots. A vendor at our local farmers' market had some very large black pots (like trees are sold in) for sale cheap, so that's what two of the 'taters are planted up in. Plus, this is the Pacific Northwest, or as Boffer calls it: "the Rainy Zone," so pots that will collect heat for the roots seemed like a good idea. One of the Swee'taters is like those found in the local Safeway, the other is from a tuber I got at Uwayjimaya (an oriental market in Portland, OR), called Satsuma Imo, or just Japanese Sweet Potato. The skin is dark red, the flesh white or ivory and very sweet. Now I'm hanging out to dry, not knowing if what I'm doing is right, wrong or indifferent. It'll be fun to compare notes. Go for it, Girl. Nonna

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  pattipan on 6/1/2011, 9:28 pm

I agree with NonaP...live dangerously! You won't know until you try. And I'll be right there with you too!

I bought a dozen Vardeman plants from http://www.tatorman.com and put them in 6 squares in one corner of my new 8" deep 4 x 8 box. There were actually 14 plants and one of those had a Y-shaped root with two tops, so it looks like I planted 15. It's supposed to be a bush type sweet potato, but I expect it will spread like crazy. I'll add a short trellis of some type if they head towards the tomatoes. I just had to try them!



One thing I didn't think of was that I have three squares of red-cored carrots between the sweet potatoes and the tomatoes. It should be "educational" to see what happens when root crop meets root crop! What a Face Mwahahaha (mad scientist laugh).

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  buttaflie143 on 6/1/2011, 9:55 pm

@pattipan wrote: What a Face Mwahahaha (mad scientist laugh).

pattipan

LOL!!!! lol! I didn't plant them today but with you and Nonna behind me, I'm going to take a risk and plant them in the am.

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 6/1/2011, 10:47 pm

Yeah! Let's share results. I so want to succeed with the Japanese Sweet Potatoes, never having seen them before this year. They are unusual in that you can peel them, and grate the flesh, squeeze some pulp into a patty and fry it in an olive oil/butter mix in a cast iron fry pan, first on one side, then when crispy, flip it to the other side, sprinkle with a bit of salt cook until crisp and serve with some brown butter sage sauce. No binder (like egg) needed. My guess is that it has such a high sugar content, the shreds cling together without additional binder. Delish! Having said that, 'bout nothing beats a roasted yellow sweet potato, mashed and served with a squeeze of fresh orange juice and a pat of butter. Dang, done drooled on my keyboard again.

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  ModernDayBetty on 6/1/2011, 11:37 pm

I'm trying it also! I only have two, I planted them in my deeper box but since all the rain it's probably down to 6 in now. Can't wait to see how everyone does!

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  Nonna.PapaVino on 6/2/2011, 10:11 am

Pattipan, wanting to know more about the variety of sweet potato you planted, I accessed your Taterman site and was excited to see he sells a Japanese sweet that looks and sounds a lot like one of the two I'm growing. Both are red skinned, but the two are subtly different, one has white flesh that morphs to an ivory after being cut and is starting to vine; the other's flesh starts out ivory and doesn't darken, and appears to be a bush type. Thanks for the site. If I'm at all successful this year, I shall try the Vardeman, which sounds wonderful! And it's a bush type, a plus.

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Re: Considering Sweet Potatoes

Post  NEWBIE99 on 6/2/2011, 7:38 pm

buttaflie, I'm planting Georgia Jet sweet potatoes for the first time, too. I purchased an 18-gallon plastic tote from Walmart. I drilled a few holes in the bottom and filled it full of soil mixed with perlite about two weeks ago. So far so good, but I have a long way to go. I hope we both end up with a great crop. cheers


Last edited by NEWBIE99 on 6/2/2011, 7:39 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : addition)

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Rolling my Own

Post  NaturesApprentice on 6/11/2011, 5:19 pm

Hadn't heard of the tater man, and wanted to find something kind of local and didn't...so decided to start my own. I had read in another thread, that you could throw a potato (in my case, just a store one) in water, and then wait for the slips to develop. Once they are about 6", break them off and let them develop roots, then plant those.

I figured since I was also learning about hydroponics (I'm not cheating on Mel's Mix, just learning more) I'd try some of that out with the slips. These are sitting in a hydroponic seeding medium called "Grodan" which is this fibrous stuff made from rocks and some recycled things. You dip them in water and they absorb a bunch to send to the plant as needed.

One of the cool things I learned from this was about the pH. In the first one (far left), I followed the directions and dipped it in a solution of water with a little bit of lemon juice. I didn't have any litmus paper, or a tester, but the goal was to get the pH around 5.5 or so.

For the next two, I thought I'd see how important pH really is so I just did water. Below is the result:



Within an hour, both cuttings had wilted and were on their way to being compost. I grabbed two more blocks and dipped them in water with the juice from half a lemon and replanted the cuttings in the two new blocks...this is about an hour later:



You can see they are already looking better. I checked them this morning, and they are just as happy as the first one now.

I have a brick planter on my porch that was full of terrible ivy that wanted to eat my house. Last night I pulled up all of the ivy, and this morning I started digging out the dirt in the planter. My intent is to fill one side (about 1' x 1') with MM going down all the way (almost 2 feet) and plant a slip or two in that. Cage it, and let the rabbits eat whatever pokes through the cage. The rest of the planter will hold some herbs (go ahead and pronounce the "h" since it's there) and whatnot.

I just need to find the original sweet potato threads that will tell me if I need to layer them like regular taters or not. More pics to follow.

-NA

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Curing

Post  NaturesApprentice on 6/11/2011, 5:23 pm

Oh, and here's something else...has anyone else heard this:

Sweet Potatoes need to be 'cured' after harvest?? I read on Mother Earth News somewhere that they need to be in 80-90 degree heat for a while (weeks?) to develop that thick skin and sweet flavor (they said fresh sweet potatoes are actually kind of bland).

Discuss. Smile

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  sceleste54 on 6/11/2011, 11:15 pm

happy hi I read that article too, thought it was a good one. I'm trying sweet potatoes this year, planted from starter roots given to me. I didn't read enough before I jumped in and just planted the whole piece, potato, roots, sprouts and all. So far they are looking good. I planted some in big clay pots and some in my regular sfg box. We will see !!!

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  pattipan on 6/15/2011, 3:00 pm

@NaturesApprentice wrote:Oh, and here's something else...has anyone else heard this:

Sweet Potatoes need to be 'cured' after harvest?? I read on Mother Earth News somewhere that they need to be in 80-90 degree heat for a while (weeks?) to develop that thick skin and sweet flavor (they said fresh sweet potatoes are actually kind of bland).

Discuss. Smile

Yes, you need to cure sweet potatoes. Here's a helpful excerpt from an article I found:
Harvest and Cure

Sweet potatoes don’t mature: They just keep getting larger until the soil cools to 50 degrees or lower. Under row covers, the soil cools by mid- to late September, when you should harvest the vegetables carefully. The firm roots can bruise, hastening rotting.

Once the roots are out of the ground, curing, which heals nicks and cuts, determines the success or failure of the crop. Have a curing plan ahead of time, because, until they are cured, the roots lose moisture rapidly.

To cure sweet potatoes, spread them out in a very warm space – the optimal temperature range is 85 to 90 degrees – and cure them for one week. At 75 to 85 degrees, curing takes two weeks. I cure my roots in a closed greenhouse for about 10 days. I have also heard of people using second bathrooms or saunas, heating them to 90 degrees for a week. A pilot lit gas oven is 85-90 degrees. An old refrigerator or freezer with a light bulb in it – especially one on a dimmer switch – can be adjusted to maintain 90 degrees. The optimal 80 to 90 percent relative humidity can be created with pans of water or a humidifier. The roots give off huge amounts of moisture while curing, creating high humidity in a small space.

Curing stimulates an organic reaction in the root that forms a protective outer layer in the skin, which greatly reduces dehydration. A properly cured sweet potato can sit on the kitchen counter for months and lose very little weight. Some sprouting may occur; in that case, rub off the sprouts.

Link to the full article here: Grow Your Own Sweet Potatoes

My family when I was growing up used to lay the sweet potatoes out on burlap sacks in an old shed that had a metal roof. When they had cured we wrapped them in newspaper and put them in the cellar. Since I have neither shed nor cellar, nor greenhouse...I plan to lay them out on burlap sacks on a wooden pallet outside and cover somehow with heavy plastic. I may make a hoop house, but that will depend on how many I get!

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  blugill on 6/18/2011, 10:12 am

I just planted five plants as my family loves sweet potatoes.
Got them from sprouts and they'll do fine in this heat I believe.

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  Hyzleyes on 6/18/2011, 11:36 pm

I have four Georgia Jets growing well and knew they needed to cure, but had no idea how warm it needed to be. Hmmm... sounds like they don't need sun for curing, so maybe a heater in a spare bathroom. How consistent does the heat need to be? Makes me nervous to run the space heater overnight or when we're not home. Depends on how many I end up with I guess. Anyone know how many to expect from each plant? I wonder if the crock pot on "warm" would be the right temp?

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  pattipan on 6/19/2011, 1:30 am

@Hyzleyes wrote:I have four Georgia Jets growing well and knew they needed to cure, but had no idea how warm it needed to be. Hmmm... sounds like they don't need sun for curing, so maybe a heater in a spare bathroom. How consistent does the heat need to be? Makes me nervous to run the space heater overnight or when we're not home. Depends on how many I end up with I guess. Anyone know how many to expect from each plant? I wonder if the crock pot on "warm" would be the right temp?

Let's be safe....so the unattended heater is out. affraid The Crockpot is out too, even on the warm setting it would be way too hot.

I've been doing a little more surfing on the subject and have come up with some things that would work on a small scale.

  • Some folks just use plain old plastic bags with holes punched in them for a little ventilation. Set the bags in a warm place. The sweet potatoes will provide their own humidity in the bags. You could also use those plastic blister packs from your produce section. Like the kind that strawberries or tomatoes come in. Set on top of the fridge or on a table near a heating vent.

  • A big picnic cooler or plastic storage bin might be a another good place, although you would need to devise a way to arrange the sweet potatoes in layers (keeping in mind their delicate skins). You could put racks in these containers of some kind on jars of warm water. If set near a sunny window, it would probably be warm enough.

  • Build a "curing box" frame from an old dresser drawer covered with old windows or plexiglass.

  • Make a hoop house. Or just make a temporary one by draping plastic over something. It should be somewhat tight fit relative to your sweet potato harvest to keep the humidity at a higher level.


Anyone else have some creative ideas for curing sweet potatoes?

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  Tbites on 6/19/2011, 6:43 am

Would a rubbermaid container set on top of a germination heat pad work ? Would you have to leave the top lid a little loose for air ?

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  Tbites on 6/23/2011, 8:16 am

Curious to know the answer

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  Hyzleyes on 6/23/2011, 8:25 am

Great ideas! Maybe above the warm water jars in a tote with a heating pad underneath so the water can be easily re-warmed?

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  pattipan on 6/23/2011, 9:48 am

Tbites,
I would definitely vent the lid of the plastic tub. Maybe even drill holes around the bottom, if you can sacrifice it for the cause. You want moisture and warmth, but you don't want mold. I'm still thinking that plastic bags perforated with holes would be the easiest for a small amount...or laying them out on a palette on burlap sacks and covering with plastic. It's still pretty warm here where I live in late September, so something outdoors that would act like a greenhouse would work for me.

I'm still thinking on this. Any ideas welcome!

pattipan


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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  pattipan on 9/21/2011, 9:47 am

Dug up my sweet potatoes yesterday. Got a good yield for the 12 plants I started, but the size and shape are disappointing. These were planted in an 8" deep box. Was it my Mel's Mix in this box? The hot, hot summer and not enough watering? Some of them are over a foot long! Only one is a "normal" sweet potato shape. The vines were beautiful, but beauty is only soil deep. What a Face



I'm still curing them and we will eat them...will need to peel carefully since they are too small to bake whole. Here's my fancy makeshift curing system.



I will try again next year, only I'll give them their own box.

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  Arena on 9/29/2011, 2:50 am

I planted sweet potatoes for my family...
Its very good planted, i enjoyed to planted the potatoes...

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  Kelejan on 9/29/2011, 3:44 pm

Arena, as I see you have made your first posting. Hope to see more of you.

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Pulled Mine

Post  NaturesApprentice on 10/3/2011, 9:07 pm

So..this is what I got when I dug mine up. May not seem like much, but I really wasn't expecting a whole lot. I planted a store bought tater in the ground after it rooted in some water...mostly to provide shade for the lettuce.

They are on a normal sized dish towel to give some perspective.


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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  camprn on 10/8/2011, 12:15 pm

Another gardener's observations about growing sweet potates.

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

Post  Hyzleyes on 11/4/2011, 2:58 pm

So obviously I'm very late, digging up my sweet potatoes today. I'm pretty happy with the size and number of potatoes, but we'll see about the flavor.



Didn't read until today that it diminishes when they're harvested late. Not worried about them keeping. I'm sure we'll eat them quickly. Still trying to figure out how to cure them though. Anyone know what temperature the crock pot would be on low with the lid off? And please tell me I can wash them before bringing them in to cure???

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Re: Considering sweet potatoes...

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