Who knew you could grow sweet potatoes in such a small space, and with so much production!

grow sweet potatoes
The sweet potato crate at the end of July…yes – it is under there somewhere!

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. 

grow sweet potatoes
The sweet potato harvest as we uncovered from the crate

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 FacebookTwitter or Instagram. This article may contain affiliate links.

20 thoughts on “A Harvest Beyond Belief! An Amazing Way To Grow Sweet Potatoes

  • November 13, 2017 at 10:25 am
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    Can you grow purple potatoes this same way?

  • November 12, 2017 at 6:37 pm
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    Still trying to understand the slips – do you cut the “slip” off the piece of potatoe that is in the water then put those in another container of water until they root then just lay them on the soil. I just don’t seem to grasp the “slip” idea.

  • November 10, 2017 at 11:20 am
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    We live in Tennessee which has a very long growing season and get get very hot during the summer. What month should I plant? Do these plants need partial shade if it does get extremely hot?

    • November 10, 2017 at 2:10 pm
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      Sweet potatoes love hot weather. Plant 3-4 weeks after the last frost and no they do not need partial shade. Hope this helps!

  • October 31, 2017 at 9:49 pm
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    Thank you for the article. I have a couple of questions. When you planted the crate did you put a few inches of soil in the bottom first and how many slips did you put in the crate. This would be a great solution to my vole problem if I put hardware cloth underneath the crate.

    • November 1, 2017 at 7:52 am
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      Hi Sherry We put the crate right on top of the ground and put a mixture of straw, shredded leaves, soil and compost in the bottom of the crate. We actually only had 5 slips that we put in the crate and as they began to grow, we continued to add the organic mixture listed above to keep the soil about 2 inches below the top leaves. I think hardware cloth at the bottom would work to keep the voles out, but it definitely would be important to keep adding soil to prevent the potatoes from trying to penetrate the ground below the hardware cloth. Hope that helps.

      • November 1, 2017 at 6:28 pm
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        Thanks so much. That does help.

  • October 26, 2017 at 1:33 am
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    I love baked sweet potatoes dollopped with butter that has been whipped with maple syrup and cinnamon. You won’t believe how good that is! I make extra. It keeps well in the fridge.
    Two sticks of room temp butter
    1/4 cup genuine maple syrup
    1/2 tsp cinnamon
    Salt to taste, if desired

  • October 23, 2017 at 9:24 am
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    Can you grow these in England? Its damp, cold and dull here so I am guessing that we can’t. You probably need warm or even hot temperatures to grow sweet potatoes?

    • October 23, 2017 at 4:04 pm
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      To grow sweet potatoes, the temperatures would have to remain warm and sunny for a few months. Our average temperatures in the summer are usually in the low 80’s and lasts 2-3 months. I would think it would be difficult to grow in cold and damp areas.

      • October 24, 2017 at 5:32 am
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        Oh gosh no way do our temperatures hit the low 80s (over 26C) in England! Maybe for one week or so if we have a heatwave but never for 2-3 months. haha. So maybe no sweet potatoes for us 😉 I think our sweet potatoes are all imported from USA and other hot countries.

  • October 22, 2017 at 5:10 pm
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    I’m a bit confused, do you continue adding soil as the plants grow?

    • October 23, 2017 at 4:05 pm
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      Ethel – yes, as they grow, you continue to add soil to about 1 inch below the plant. You do this until you fill the crate. As the vine grows, new sweet potatoes form on the vines under the soil.

  • October 22, 2017 at 3:00 pm
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    Jim and Mary – just wanted to let you know I’ve been growing them the same way for a few years, but you need to be aware that the greens are incredibly tasty and nutritious! Mix with salad greens fresh or lightly sauté or steam like spinach.
    Steve in Kansas City

    • October 23, 2017 at 4:05 pm
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      Thank you so much for letting us know about the greens! They sound delicious!

  • October 22, 2017 at 9:56 am
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    This is my third year at growing my sweet potatoes in conditioned straw bales which are much like your crates and the bounty has been like yours. Last year we grew so so many that we are still eating them this fall and we even shared with family, friends and food pantries. Harvesting is easy on the back ♥

    • October 23, 2017 at 4:06 pm
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      We have had great success with other plants in straw bales as well, but haven’t tried sweet potatoes in them yet. Do you add dirt inside the straw bales to help them grow?

  • October 22, 2017 at 9:12 am
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    This sounds like a learning project I can use with my great nieces, who have limited space at home. What is the best way to store that many pounds of potatoes with out them going bad.

    • October 23, 2017 at 4:07 pm
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      We store them in a cool, dark place such as a root cellar or a cool basement. They will last for months!

  • October 22, 2017 at 8:43 am
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    HI Jim & Mary,
    When we use to live in the desert area of So. Calif sweet potatoes and yams grew like weeds. Actually kinda got tired of them. Now that we have relocated to the cooler climates of Utah we may try them again…..But if you ever get a chance maybe you post some of your favorite recipes on sweet potatoes and yams. Hmmm yam pie is great!

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