Growing Sweet Potatoes in Containers

I don’t know about you, but I am so excited to get this growing season underway! The best part about gardening is that there is usually more than one way to grow something. Not only do sweet potatoes grow well directly in the ground, but they also can grow in large containers or bags. This is great for those who don’t have a large space to grow,  but still want to join the Dane County Sweet Potato Project in growing sweet potatoes for the community. Below, I will explain different ways to grow sweet potatoes besides in the ground:

  1. Bags.  From large burlap coffee sacks to reusable grocery bags, there are many inexpensive bags to grow sweet potatoes in. These types of bags have little holes in them to keep roots aerated. One thing to keep in mind when using this method is to water your plant more often and keep the soil moist because the water runs through the holes and can become dry quickly if left for a few days. Mulching the top of the soil is also helpful to retain soil moisture.
  2. Large Pots or Earthboxes. Large pots or a store-bought or homemade Earthbox could be a great addition to a patio for easy planting of sweet potatoes. When growing in hard sided containers make sure there is holes for proper drainage. Check out University of Maryland-Extension for more information: Here

     

Pros of Container Gardening:

  • Great for small spaces
  • Good to use when soil in ground is not good quality
  • Can be inexpensive
  • Easy

Cons of Container Gardening:

  • Soil can dry out faster (may need to water everyday)
  • Can have a smaller harvest or smaller potatoes
  • Plant can become root-bound

I hope this information opens your eyes to new and different ways of gardening. Happy Gardening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

1000 Pounds – Goodman Youth Grow Local Farm

Almost 1000 pounds! That’s how much sweet potatoes were harvested on Oct. 3rd at the Goodman Youth Grow Local Farm in Madison. Master Gardener Volunteers and youth farm interns worked with 100 elementary students from Kennedy & Van Hise Elementary Schools to harvest the sweet potatoes that were delivered to local food pantries.

Farmworks truckload harvest kids harvest row ygl_farm

Harvesting Soon

Most of our Beauregard sweet potato plants have reached the 100-day mark in their growing season so it’s time to consider harvesting procedures:

  • Due to the shorter growing season in our region, allow the plants to mature as long as possible before harvest.
  • Harvest should occur shortly before or directly after the first frost kills the vines. Roots continue to grow until vine die-off and are only susceptible when soil temperatures drop below 50 degrees; use a soil or meat thermometer to check.
  • After vine die-off, immediately remove the top growth to prevent decay from spreading the roots.
  • Dig about 1-2 feet from the base of the plant with a spade/pitch fork or shovel to uncover the your delicious, nutritious treasure.
  • Take care not to damage the roots as sweet potatoes lack the thick, protective layer like standard potato tubers. Sweet potatoes need to undergo the curing process to develop a thicker skin.
  • Resist temptation to clean the sweet potatoes before drying & curing as they may be damaged and become infected.

Watch for an updates soon about curing and donating ½ of your harvest!

Answers to Some Common Questions

We’ve been getting a significant number of signups and already have almost 6,000 slips requested!

Here are some of the common questions we’ve been hearing from people interested in the Sweet Potato Project.

Why sweet potatoes?
They are high in nutrition and can last a long time when properly cured and stored.

Do sweet potatoes grow in Wisconsin?
You bet.  The Beauregard variety is a fast maturing plant, best suited to the Wisconsin growing season.

Will you be providing the slips?
Yes.  We have ordered several thousand slips and they will be available for planting June 2014.

Do I get to keep the potatoes I grow?
You keep half and donate the other half to a local food pantry.

How big are the plants?
Sweet potatoes are vines and will spread out so you’ll need at least a 3 foot square area per plant.

How many pounds of sweet potatoes does a plant produce?
Roughly 3-5 pounds, but this can vary dramatically based on growing conditions.

Will you be providing directions on how to grow sweet potatoes?
You bet.  The UW extension and other organizations will be offering sweet potato growing workshops this spring.  The classes will be offered a number of times and we’ll post the schedule once we have it.

Now Taking Orders!

sweet_potatoesHey, we are trying to get a sense for how many sweet potato slips to order in January.  If you are interested in growing sweet potatoes next summer, please fill out our form here.

The slips will be free.  We just ask that you donate half of the potatoes you grow next summer to a local food pantry.  Thanks!