Who knew you could grow sweet potatoes in such a small space, and with so much production!
We love sweet potatoes. Over the past few years, they have become one of the staples of our diet. They are an incredible source of vitamins and nutrients, and a much healthier option than a traditional potato.
We have dabbled with growing them in our garden before, but with limited success. So this year, we decided to try to grow sweet potatoes the same way we grow our regular potatoes.
For the last 5 years, we have grown our traditional potatoes in crates. (See: Growing Potatoes Vertically) Growing vertically eliminates the tedious and constant work of hilling and weeding. You simply plant your seed crop in a wooden crate, and add a good soil mix over the top as they grow. Over the last few years, we have found that an equal mixture of soil, compost, straw and shredded leaves work perfectly. The soil mix is light, easy to work with, and allows plenty of easy growth space for the potatoes.
When the season is complete, you harvest by simply removing the crate, dump out the soil, and easily pick up the potatoes. For our standard potato crop, it has worked beautifully, We can usually harvest 25 to 40 pounds of regular potatoes per crate, from about 5 pounds of seed potatoes. So we decided to give it a try with sweet potatoes.
An Amazing Way To Grow Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are a bit different because you plant “slips” in place of seed potatoes. A slip is an “eye” on a sweet potato that has sprouted. It can be grown by placing a cut sweet potato in water. You let the slips grow 4 to 6 inches long, and then cut each slip below the leaf line and place in water or potting soil for it to root. A few weeks later, it is ready to transplant.
Mary created our slips from a single sweet potato that she cut and submerged half-way in a jar using toothpicks to hold it up. Once our slips had rooted, we transplanted them into the bottom of a homemade 2′ x 3′ crate we assembled out of some left-over rough-sawn pine. Our sweet potatoes went in the garden around the first of June.
The sweet potatoes performed well in the crates early on. In fact, by the first of August, the vines had spilled up and over the crate and began filling our entire back garden wall. It became quite the conversation piece for visitors.
But the real surprise came this past week at harvest time! From that single crate of just a few tiny slips, we were able to grow 80 sweet potatoes, weighing in at well over 100 total pounds. And a handful of them could easily have been mistaken for large gourds!
And the taste? Well, we baked 2 for dinner last night, and they simply exploded with flavor! The great thing about sweet potatoes is that they keep well. So hopefully, we can be enjoying these well into next year.
Here’s to a great crop of sweet potatoes in your garden next year! – Jim and Mary. If you would like to receive our DIY, Gardening and Recipe articles each week, sign up via email at the bottom of this post. You can also like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.