Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sweet Potato Harvest

It took us a while to find sweet potato starts this year, but we finally found some at Bloomingfood's, thanks to a tip from another gardening friend.  [Thank you!!]    While I was calling around, I discovered that May's Greenhouse will put you on an order list, so if you're in the Bloomington, Indiana area and want sweet potatoes, call May's in March and get on their list.  They'll save sweet potato starts for you when they come in. 

We had good luck with our starts this year and ended up with a really nice harvest.     You want to harvest sweet potatoes before the frost.   They like cool nights - and I hear tell that they get sweeter with cooler weather, but any frost will nip the vines and once the vines are frozen, they'll start to rot and then the potatoes rot quickly, too.  

So, cover them for light frosts, and harvest before a hard frost.   If you happen to get caught by a surprise freeze, then take any frozen vines off right away.  That will prevent rot from getting to the roots for a while. 

We planted our starts well after the last frost date in May, in a 4' x 8' raised bed full of sand and chicken dirt.   The potatoes loved it and we had gorgeous vines all summer.

When it's time to harvest, cut off all the vines so you can see what you're doing and then brush the soil away from the roots so you can see what's what.

What you can see is just the beginning of what's under there.   There are potatoes in the center of that cluster that go down quite a bit deeper.

Lift them out carefully - the potatoes crack easily if you twist them.   

Look how big some of these clumps got!  That's Eric's hand lifting this clump out.

Just brush the soil off and let them dry.

In the end we got a half a big wheelbarrow full of sweet potatoes of all sizes.

We brushed them off again, then loaded them in boxes and put them in the back room to sit until we eat them.  


1 comment:

  1. So. Very. Jealous! Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite crops and this year, our crop was non-existent. Last year, we got sweet potatoes as big as footballs. Go figure!


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