potatoe is a wonderfully productive vegetable and is ideal as a
permanent feature of any organic vegetable garden. You can eat the
great tasting and healthy tubers as well as the leaves. Sweet potatoe
is an edible, low management ground cover for your soil in the warm
months. Our planting blog this week teaches you how to grow your own
sweet potatoes. You can also find a lot of additional information on
sweet potatoe in our web site paid member area
1. Prepare your soil
potatoe tubers will grow in a variety of well drained soils, making
them a relatively easy crop to grow for most gardens. For greater
tuber potential, its best that the top layer of your soil is soft.
They will grow well in soil with a clay base and generally will not
produce many tubers in hard packed soil, however you may be very
surprised at your tubers appearing in the most unlikely places at
times. If you are fortunate enough to have a deep layer of top soil,
tubers have been known to grow down to 7-8 feet (2 meters) deep. The
ideal ph range of 6.0-7.0.
To prepare the bed,
loosen the soil to 6-8 inches (15-18cm) depth and break up any large
clods in the soil. In planning your soil area for sweet potatoe,
allow a reasonable amount of space between plants and then
concentrate your organic matter in the soil right where you intend to
put each sweet potatoe runner. The plants will run along the ground
and take over all of your garden if you don't control them whilst
growing, so be diligent about where you want them to grow.
I know some
gardeners who use them as ground covers on banks in the home garden.
Its best to avoid planting them near fruit trees, as you will disturb
the surface fruits of the fruit trees when digging up the tubers.
Sweet potatoe, unlike most other vegetables, don't respond very well
to high levels of nitrogen in the soil. If your soil is overly
fertile, say after a green manure crop, then you will get luxuriant
vines and not many tubers. So plant them at the end of your crop
Step 2. Choose
tropical climates sweet potatoe can be grown as a perennial whilst in
more temperate climates it is an annual. A healthy sweet potatoe will
crop at the end of the warmest part of the year and take around 4-5
months to produce reasonable size tubers. Of the most common
varieties, each plant will produce approximately 4-6 tubers, so on
that basis allow about 4-6 plants per adult in your household. Allow
about a third metre (12 inches) diameter circle around each plant as
they take up quite a bit space. You can also consume the young leaves
of the plant as it grows and sends out new runners. These can be
eaten as a green vegetable and are very commonly eaten in Asia.
are many varieties of sweet potatoe to choose from and its important
you choose varieties suitable for your taste preference and use.
Varieties are listed on our plant database in our web
site paid member area.
3. Follow correct planting methods
Sweet potatoe is a
warm season crop and does not need full sun to grow. It will often
fill spaces in your garden which are too shady for other plants. Of
course, you need to be confident that if you choose a position which
is not full sun, that the soil is warm enough for plant growth. Its
essential that planting occurs after frost and that your tubers are
already grown before the frost onset. It will take from 4-5 months
for them to grow, so if you have a very short warm season, they are
not suitable for your climate. Paid members of our web site can use
our localised planting calendar to find out ideal planting months for
growing sweet potatoe for any location in Australia, USA and New
Zealand. Whilst the tubers are growing you can pick the young leaves
of the plants as vegetable greens.
sweet potatoes are planted out into the garden from a runner. These
grow prolifically and you can enhance tuber potential by planting a
runner with lots of shoots on it and planting it under the ground
standing up vertically. Each of the shoots has the potential to turn
into a tuber, so assess the depth of your loose soil and use a runner
length no longer than the depth of your soft soil.
the plant runners start to spread out from where you have planted,
the runners will attempt to root down in the soil. To enhance the
potential of the orignial planting to produce tubers, do not allow
these new runners to root. You can pull them up each month to stop
them from rooting or cut them off. If you cut them off you lessen the
potential for the plant to be used as ground cover. Make sure you
mark the spot where you started the plant so you do not disturb that
Step 4. Use these
potatoe can be grown as a perennial in warm climates, the best
cropping in both warm and temperate climates can be achieved if you
do not keep growing in the same bed each season as this will deplete
the soil and increase the potential for soil borne diseases. Itís
good to have sweet potatoe after fruting crops and there are many
companions and beneficial flowers for sweet potatoe to assist with
pest and disease resistance, as well as enhancing fertility. If you
are a paid member of our web site, you can access for sweet potatoe.
Sweet potatoes donít
need much water to spread foliage, but to enhance tuber potential you
should ensure they get medium water levels each week. Since they do
not require overly rich soil, you really donít need to bother with
liquid fertiliser if you have reasonable soil
5. Control for pests and diseases
a healthy soil is always the best protection against pests and
diseases, so this is rule number one. Our web
site paid member area
has extensive instructional content on organic and biodynamic soil
fertility practices for your vegetable and herb garden.
Sweet potatoe may be
bothered by a wide range of common pests including aphids, cut worm,
flea beetles and mites. Instructions on managing these pests on
eggplant are in our web
site paid member area.
diseases for sweet potatoe are root rot, bacterial wilt and fusarium
wilt. Crop rotation is a vital part of your gardening strategy to
reduce these types of diseases. Extensive information on organic
treatment of sweet potatoe diseases is provided in our web site paid
member area as well as rotation, companion planting and beneficial