How to Grow Sweet Potatoes: A Prepper’s Guide

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes: A Prepper’s Guide

How to Grow Sweet Potatoes

Introduction

Sweet potatoes are not only delicious, but they are also a great addition to any prepper’s garden. They are easy to grow, packed with nutrition, and can be stored for long periods of time. In this article, we will explore the process of growing sweet potatoes from start to finish, so you can enjoy this tasty root vegetable all year round.

Choosing a Variety

When it comes to choosing a sweet potato variety, there are a few options to consider. Some varieties are better suited for certain climates, while others may produce larger or smaller tubers. Here are a few popular sweet potato varieties:

– Beauregard: This variety is known for its high yield and tasty, orange flesh. It is resistant to a variety of diseases and is suitable for both cooler and warmer climates.

– Georgia Jet: If you live in a colder region, Georgia Jet is a great choice. It matures quickly and produces small to medium-sized tubers with deep orange flesh.

– Covington: Covington is a popular choice for its sweet flavor and high yield. It is resistant to diseases and performs well in a variety of climates.

Preparing the Soil

Sweet potatoes prefer loose, well-draining soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.5. Before planting, it’s important to prepare the soil to provide the best growing conditions for your sweet potatoes. Here are the steps to prepare the soil:

1. Clear the area: Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting area.

2. Loosen the soil: Using a garden fork or tiller, loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches. This will allow the sweet potato roots to grow deep and develop healthy tubers.

3. Amend the soil: Add organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to enrich the soil and improve its fertility.

4. Level the soil: Smooth out the soil surface, ensuring it is even and free of lumps.

Planting Sweet Potatoes

Now that you have prepared the soil, it’s time to plant your sweet potatoes. Follow these steps to ensure successful planting:

1. Slips or tubers: Sweet potatoes can be grown from slips or tubers. Slips are small plants that have been grown from sprouted sweet potatoes, while tubers are the actual sweet potatoes themselves. You can purchase slips or use sprouted sweet potatoes to grow your own.

2. Planting slips: If you are using slips, dig a hole deep enough to cover the roots and lower part of the stem. Plant each slip about 12-18 inches apart, with rows spaced 3-4 feet apart.

3. Planting tubers: If you are using tubers, plant them in shallow trenches, about 2-3 inches deep. Space the tubers 12-18 inches apart, with rows spaced 3-4 feet apart.

4. Cover and water: Once the slips or tubers are in place, gently cover them with soil and water thoroughly. Keep the soil evenly moist throughout the growing season.

Caring for Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes require regular care to ensure healthy growth and a bountiful harvest. Here are some tips for caring for your sweet potato plants:

– Watering: Sweet potatoes need consistent moisture, especially during the first few weeks. Water deeply whenever the top inch of soil feels dry, but be careful not to overwater. Overwatering can lead to diseases and rot.

– Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or wood chips, around the plants to conserve moisture, suppress weed growth, and maintain even soil temperature.

– Fertilizing: Sweet potatoes are heavy feeders and benefit from regular fertilization. Use a balanced organic fertilizer or compost tea every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.

– Pruning: Sweet potato plants tend to vine and spread. To prevent overcrowding, prune back the vines occasionally, especially if they start to overwhelm neighboring plants.

Harvesting and Storing

Sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start to yellow and die back, typically around 100-140 days after planting. To harvest your sweet potatoes, follow these steps:

1. Loosen the soil: Before harvesting, gently loosen the soil around the plants using a garden fork or shovel. Be careful not to damage the tubers.

2. Lift the tubers: Carefully lift the tubers from the soil, taking care not to bruise or cut them.

3. Cure the sweet potatoes: After harvesting, allow the sweet potatoes to air-dry for a few hours. Then, transfer them to a warm, humid location (around 85°F and 85% humidity) for about 10 days. This process, known as curing, helps sweet potatoes develop their sweetness and improves their shelf life.

4. Storage: Once cured, sweet potatoes can be stored in a cool, dark place for several months. Avoid storing them in the refrigerator, as the cold temperatures can alter their flavor and texture.

My 2 Cents

Growing sweet potatoes can be a satisfying and rewarding experience for any prepper. Not only are they easy to grow, but they offer a reliable source of nutritious food. Remember to choose the right variety for your climate, prepare the soil properly, and provide regular care to ensure a bountiful harvest. Preparing and storing sweet potatoes correctly will allow you to enjoy this tasty root vegetable for months to come. So why not give it a try and add sweet potatoes to your prepper’s garden? Happy growing!