we have been eating so many of our sweet potatoes this winter, both baked as warm, delicious snacks, or made into my delicious sweet potato ginger soup.
this fall, we had a sweet potato yield of about 12o pounds. this is more than we expected since, frankly, we didn’t really know what to expect because this was our first time growing them.
the recommended planting dates for sweet potatoes in our region are may 15-june 15 and our plants went in the ground on june 11, 2013. the 100+ plants were given to us by my father, and jason planted them 3-6″ deep in two of our raised beds. each plant was 12″ apart within rows, and 36-42″ apart between rows.
within a few months, the vines went crazy and flourished. we had a small issue with a groundhog who was trying to munch on the vines, but jason dealt with that effectively.
since the average number of days until maturity for sweet potatoes is 105-135 days, we decided to wait until the later end of that spectrum, hoping for larger potatoes. i harvested the first half of the sweet potatoes in mid-october and jason and i harvested the other half together at the very end of october.
since the first frost of fall was on october 22, we cut all of the sweet potato vines off at the ground the night before to make sure that the frost wouldn’t run into the ground and damage the potatoes. this meant that the potatoes sat in the ground for about a week without their vines, which is not a cause for alarm. still, the sooner you harvest the potatoes after cutting off their vines, the better.
i harvested the first half on a harvest day, according to blum’s farmer’s and planter’s almanac. i also encountered a black widow while i dug up the vines, and learned later that black widows love sweet potato vines more than many other hiding spots. be aware while digging up your potatoes of all kinds!
neither day that we harvested was sunny, so we did not leave them outside in the sun to cure. instead, we wiped as much dirt off of them as possible, sorted them by size (keeping the tiny potatoes for bolt to eat as treats), and stored them in our guest bedroom/farm room.
we’ve stacked them in multi-tiered, open-air crates to help with the curing and drying process. currently, 3 months later, most of the potatoes continue to store well and we intentionally choose the iffy ones to use first when cooking and baking.
we are proud of our first sweet potato crop and in 2014 we plan to plant even more sweet potato plants than last year! this year, when may comes, we’ll be ready to get those plants in the ground even earlier!