The Q&A Archives: Planting Sweet Potatoes

Question: I ordered sweet potatoes from you, and do not know how to plant them! They came bundled together in moss, which I removed, but the directions for planting were very vague. I'm a total garden beginner. How deep do I bury these "twiglets", (some have a few leaves on one end, the rest do not). Your note said bury up to but not covering the "bulb"; I see no bulb (as I know it), on either end! What is the care and feeding of these plants?

Answer: This vegetable is the thickened root of a trailing tropical vine closely related to the morning glory. It requires lots of space; well-drained sandy loam soil, and a long growing season. Mark off rows 3 feet apart and ditch between them to form planting ridges 6-9 inches high. Set shoots with roots 5-6 inches deep so that only stem tips and leaves are exposed. Plants should be spaced 14-16 inches apart. Mulch between the plants to help hold soil moisture and suppress weeds. Provide one-inch of water per week, until two weeks before harvesting (to let the tubers dry out a bit). Harvest as soon as the leaves begin to yellow, or after the first frost. Dig carefully to avoid cutting or bruising the flesh and allow the tubers to dry in the sun for several hours. Then move them to a well ventilated spot and keep at 85F - 90F degrees for 10-15 days. After they are cured, store at around 55F degrees. Properly cured and stored, they will keep for several months.

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