Vegetables and Fruit forum: Sweet potatoes

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Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
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MaryE
Oct 30, 2011 8:11 PM CST
I didn't think I could grow them here. All I did was break off some sprouts, root them in water, plant them in little pots, and then moved them to my half barrels with my geraniums to fill in the blank spaces. Today I dug the geraniums out to put them in winter quarters, and discovered several small tubers on the roots of the sweet potato vines. One is about the size of a wiener. This makes me think that maybe I could grow them in my garden in a raised ridge covered with black plastic and watered by drip irrigation. Exciting!

I hope to get some sprouts from the tubers, thinking maybe they'd be acclimated to our cooler conditions.

Anybody in the north with experience growing them? Would yams grow the same way?
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Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
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bitbit
Nov 1, 2011 7:57 PM CST
I grow them in VA, so not exactly the north.

Sweet potatoes require a long season, and most of the tuber growth occurs at the end. So, it's possible small tubers are all you can get there. But it's possible you can get bigger ones in the ground.

Yams are a very different plant, though confusingly, sweet potatoes are sometimes called yams. Any type of sweet potato can be grown the same way, though different varieties are somewhat adapted to different climates.
Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
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MaryE
Nov 2, 2011 10:43 AM CST
What variety do you grow?
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Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
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bitbit
Nov 2, 2011 11:07 AM CST
I'm actually not sure. I picked up the slips at my farmer's market. Jewell is the most common commercially grown variety around here, so it's likely what I have.
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
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bitbit
Nov 2, 2011 11:13 AM CST
Here's some info from the University of Illinois about growing sweet potatoes: http://urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/sweetpotato.cfm I'm not sure how your climate compares to theirs, but if you have at least 100 days of warm weather, it looks like you should be able to grow them.
Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
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MaryE
Nov 2, 2011 2:54 PM CST
Thank you, that is a very good site. I think Georgia Jet would be the one to try here because it says "somewhat cold tolerant".
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Name: Phillip
brayton tn. (Zone 7b)
Region: United States of America Canning and food preservation Garden Ideas: Level 1
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homeshow
Feb 1, 2012 6:22 PM CST
Remember sweet potato leaves are edible. They go well in a cabbage stirfry with onions. One of my wife's favorite dishes.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Feb 1, 2012 6:36 PM CST

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I wasn't aware that you could eat the leaves. Now I feel like I wasted a lot last year.

We grew Georgia Jets last year and liked them. Thumbs up
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
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bitbit
Feb 6, 2012 1:07 PM CST
An update post-harvest... I actually got more sweet potatoes from the plants in containers than from those in the ground. I don't know how much of that was due to weather (we had a very dry summer last year) or other factors, but I'll definitely be growing them in containers next year instead of in the ground - the harvest is much easier too.

I knew the leaves were edible, but actually went all season without tasting them. I should try a stir-fry next year Thumbs up
Name: Mary
The dry side of Oregon
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MaryE
Feb 6, 2012 5:01 PM CST
Interesting that your container plants produced better. What kind of containers did you use?
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Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
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bitbit
Feb 6, 2012 5:56 PM CST
They are large plastic totes, 18 gallons.

Scooter007
Feb 11, 2012 12:53 PM CST
What exactly are sweet potato slips? Like a description? is it part of the tuber, the plant, a seed? I've read about planting slips but have no idea what they are. Is the slip term only used for sweet potatoes or is it a more general gardening term?
Baltimore County, MD (Zone 7a)
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bitbit
Feb 11, 2012 8:12 PM CST
They are little baby vines which grow off of a stored tuber. I've never heard the term slip used for other types of plants, but I also don't know another plant propagated this way.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Feb 16, 2012 10:01 AM CST
Hi, I'm kind of new to this forum, but I grow sweet potatoes every year in Wisconsin, zone 5. I've grown the Georgia Jet, Centenial, and Boregard, all with good results. I like the centenial best. I had a Georgia Jet the size of your head. Main thing I do is losten the soil very well and deep,till in lots of compost. make a mound and cover it with a plastic mulch. (I add a bit of steamed bone meal to pormote root growth) Plant the slips (around Late May here) and let them grow, they need to be watered especially if the season is dry. After the first frost in the fall I dig them. Most take about 90 to 100 days of growth. I have one left from last year's crop, which I'm going to try to spout and raise my own slips. I've watched a few U tube videos showing how to do that. Hope it works. Anyone have experience with that?
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Feb 16, 2012 10:26 PM CST
Call me crazy, but I've tried growing sweet potatoes twice here in the Michigan UP - both years were more or less the coldest summers we've ever had, so I didn't have the best results, although a couple of years ago I did get a few that were at least edible. I think the next time I'll just grow them for the leaves!

As far as starting the slips, that much I can do (it's really easy, trust me. All you need is a sweet potato and a jar of water...

Thumb of 2012-02-17/Weedwhacker/8a768d

next you can just break the sprouts off the potato and stick them in a different jar of water and they will grow roots, and they can then be planted in the ground.

I'm not sure exactly when I stuck the potatoes into the water, but the photo was taken 5/23 and it did take them a while to start sprouting, so I think it was probably mid April.

Hope this helps (and that you are more successful than I was!)
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Feb 17, 2012 10:44 AM CST
Hi Weedwhacker, love your handle, lol. so you're a Upper! Maybe if you started the plants in a hot bed, you could get an early start, then remove the frame and let them grow the rest of the season. The fresh sweet potatoes are soooo good. It might be worth the effort. I live just about 8 miles North of the Illinois border. It used to be just inside the zone 5 area, but now I'm in zone 5b with the new zone map. Thanks for the info on starting slips. From what I learned watching the u tube video's I'm thinking I should start them about Mid March. I'm going to order some too, just in case, so I don't end up with none. I can always give away the extras.
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Name: Sandy B.
Ford River, Michigan UP (Zone 4b)
(Zone 4b-maybe 5a)
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Weedwhacker
Feb 17, 2012 4:14 PM CST
I agree, mid-March would probably be a good time for you to start sprouting the potatoes -- it would be better to start too early than too late, you can always prune them back a bit if need be. I do really love sweet potatoes so will probably try it yet again... when I grew them a couple of years ago I planted them in my (unheated) hoop house, so they certainly did better than they would have in the main garden, but I think they needed about a month more of (warm) growing season than we had.

My zone supposedly changed from 4b to 5a, but not sure I agree with that... although this year would certainly support it, we've only had a couple of nights with temps slightly below zero where I am, near the north shore of L. Michigan (Escanaba area). Not much snow here either (although a different story up by L. Superior), so a good thing it hasn't been terribly cold -- one year just about every water pipe in the area froze because there was no snow and the winter was so cold! Don't tell anyone, though, because if this kind of weather keeps up everyone will want to live here!
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Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Mar 5, 2012 12:39 PM CST
Just found the most interesting article about growing sweet potatoes on the Sand Hill Preservation site. Tom

http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/pages/sweetpotato_catalo...
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Pappy
Maryville, TN (Zone 7a)
If it itches, wash it!
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pappy
Apr 6, 2012 8:57 AM CST
I live in East TN. Last year I planted some Beauregard's and they, although abundant were all hard and tasteless. They were in the ground a bit over 120 days. Don't know what the problem is/was, but I want to try another variety this season. Any suggestions are appreciated.
PappyQ
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
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tveguy3
Apr 6, 2012 10:10 AM CST
My Favorite is Centenial, although the beauregards were ok for me. Georgia Jet were good too, but were really huge, and didn't keep as well for me. One was as huge as a head of cabbage. Maybe that's cause I always add a bit of steamed bone meal when I plant them. Good luck
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great

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