Sweet potatoes have nothing in common with regular potatoes. Although orangish sweet potatoes are the most common, sweet potatoes can also be pale, yellowish, or purple.
Sweet potatoes grow slowly and are sown in the springtime since they need four months of hot weather to create full-size potatoes. Bush variants are also available for tiny yards.
So what is the best soil for growing sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes grow well on earth that is well-drained, soft, sandy loam and silt loam. Thick, dense soils create a lot of low-quality plants, whereas impoverished, thin sandy soils generate a lot of high-quality roots.
Sweet potato planting instructions
Sweet potatoes can thrive in poor soil, although distorted roots in thick clay or lengthy and stringy stems in sandy soil can form. Make more extended, broad, 10-inch-high ridges 3 1/2 feet away to make a perfect habitat. (A 10-foot row yields 8–10 pounds of tubers.)
Put in a lot of manure while minimizing nitrogen-rich fertilizers, which result in luxuriant vines and constricted tubes. Cover the elevated rows with plastic in the north to hold the soil hot and stimulate vigorous growth.
It is ideal for sowing root cuttings, also known as slips, accessible from greenhouses and mail-order vendors. Save some roots from the harvest for the following year’s gardening.
Put the roots inside a container of damp sand, sawdust, or crushed leaves in a sunny setting about six weeks before it’s ready to sow sweet potatoes outside in your region (75 to 80 degrees).
When the sprouts attain Six to Nine inches in length, clip them off the roots. Cut and discard the lowest inch of every slip, as this part might host disease germs.
Sweet potatoes take 90 to 170 days to develop and are particularly cold sensitive. Sow in broad sun 3 to 4 weeks since the last cold has passed, and the earth has softened.
Create 6 inches deep, 12 inches spaced holes. Bury plant slips up to the upper leaves, softly yet firmly pushing the soil down and water thoroughly.
Best Soil for Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato ground should be light and rich in organic materials. In the yard, fill each planting hole with well-aged manure and afterwards, plant slips 12-18″ away, covering the stems with soil up to the first set of foliage.
Load the sacks with Container Mix, next pour a shovelful of manure and roughly half a glass of powdered organic fertilizer if planting sweet potatoes inside Grow Bags.
Sweet potato crops are susceptible to cold. Therefore, they must not be put outside until the ground temperature has reached approximately 60 degrees Fahrenheit and night temperature rises above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place black plastic over the plantation area for a few weeks before sowing to heat the ground slowly.
Sweet potato slips that have just been planted must be covered from the chilly spring evenings. Tent the plants using garden cloth during the first three weeks after sowing to decrease stress and accelerate early development.
Also Read: How Much Sunlight Do Green Beans Need?
Consistency of the Soil
You get clay soil if the ground in your yard holds together readily and can be molded into forms (like clay). Clay soil seems to have tiny particles and holds water since it drains gradually.
Clay is a thick soil because its granules are exceptionally closely packed. Sweet potato tubers develop underground. Thus, clay soil makes it difficult for them to grow.
To provide organic substances to clay soil, put in some fertilizer or old manure.
This loosens the ground, allowing it to drain more quickly. Compost will indeed enrich the soil with nutrients.
If the soil type is loam (not clay) and heavier than you prefer, apply some sand to soften it up. Careful not to mix sand with clay soil. You could receive tough ground, which will be challenging to deal with!
Sweet potatoes, potatoes, turnips, or other vegetables with deep roots or tubers thrive considerably better in soft soils. Such vegetables may proliferate in loose soil because thick clumps of the earth do not hamper them.
If your soil type is highly sandy, it’ll still drain quickly — perhaps too quickly. This can result in water deficits for just about any crops you attempt to cultivate, regardless of how often you water them.
If the soil is lightweight, crumbles readily, and dries up rapidly, it is probably sandy soil.
Sifting the sand improves its consistency irrespective of the nature of soil you got in your yard. Debris can be eliminated with a soil sifter.
The best soil for sweet potatoes in containers
The first step in setting up a pot of sweet potato plants is to select an appropriate pot. Avoid plastic or metal pots; instead, use clay or whiskey barrels.
Make sure the container has four or maybe more holes in the bottom. Sweet potatoes in pots demand well-draining, sandy soils to which manure should be added. Place your potato slip 12 inches (31 centimeters) away.
Nurture the planted sweet potato beginning indoors for at least 12 weeks until transplanting it outdoors, at least four weeks after the last cold. Water the cultivated sweet potato every week or as necessary, depending on the level of rain. Please do not overwater!
Also Read: Best Soil for Growing Leeks
Best soil mix for sweet potatoes
It is crucial to use a decent soil mix when growing in pots. It is best to use a potting mix that has been modified with manure, sand, and a potash-rich fertilizer.
The jars and also other pots ought to have good drainage at the base, irrespective of the sort of potting medium you employ. Plants might be subject to fungal infections that induce root rot if they do not have adequate drainage.
If your potted plants include saucer or dripping trays, remove any extra water that has gathered, especially if you have a habit of overwatering your plants. Some plants, like succulents, require fast-draining soils and excellent drainage to thrive.
Also Read: Watering Sweet Potatoes: How Often?
Growing Sweet Potatoes in a Garden
Select a sunny location in your yard with a well-drained loam. Plants can be started using cuttings or slips.
Cuttings: Plant soft tip cuttings in suitable ground 40-50 cm away, 5-7 cm thick, and 100 cm across rows.
Slips: Place the slip inside a box of damp soil in a sunny location. When shoots sprout, trim them and soak them in fresh water for a few days before sowing.
For leaf harvest, fertilize weekly, but no extra fertilizer is required for tuber harvesting. When the foliage becomes yellow, gently pull up the tubers in the winter season.
Growing Sweet Potatoes in a Pot
Pick a good pot that is at best 500 mm broad and deep, then place it in a warm location. Cover with high-quality soil mix: plant cuttings/slip and thoroughly water.
Water on a routine basis throughout the summer to guarantee large tubers. No fertilizer is required for leaf harvesting, and no other manure is needed for tuber harvesting. When the foliage turns yellow in winter, slowly pull up the tubers.
The sweet potato roots have sensitive skin, which is often injured during the harvesting process. Avoid bruising the bases with a spade, fork, and other harvesting equipment. The peel will be damaged even if the tubers are placed into a harvest basket.
The optimal time to pick sweet potatoes among gardeners is before or soon after the initial fall freeze. So when sweet potato foliage appears yellow, it indicates that development has ceased and the roots have grown. This is an excellent season for harvesting.
Tips to Remember
Sweet potatoes require warm ground that is not very rich.
Sweet potatoes are typically produced via “slips,” which are cuttings. Although gardeners might want to make this themselves, these may be bought from a reliable producer.
There are several excellent sweet potato types to try; these vary widely in body and skin color and adaptability to different producing environments.
Sweet potato crops are susceptible to freezing and can only be sown once the temperature range has risen above 60°F. It is a plant that thrives on well-drained, low-fertility soils.
Prevent packed, thick clay grounds that can deprive roots of the oxygen and water plants require. Excessive nitrogen causes roots to develop lengthy and slender instead of fat, so avoid using fertilizer or manure before planting.
However, a healthy harvest of sweet potatoes would require One pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer every 100 sq feet; for the optimal outcomes, apply fertilizers depending on the findings of recent soil analysis.
The appropriate mulch creates a significant impact.
Dig the dirt at least 6 – 8 inches thick if possible—to prep the site for sowing. Although it is feasible to cultivate sweet potatoes without using plastic wrap, we have discovered that putting black plastic tightly against the ground yields better outcomes.
It can improve soil temperatures surrounding new plants, enabling a quicker start, especially beneficial in cold environments. Nevertheless, black plastic mulch saves water and controls weeds in all places.
In sections Three to Six feet away, arrange the slips Nine to Twelve inches off each other. A slip can often contain numerous nodes which will develop roots or branches.
At least 2 or 3 nodes should be buried in the ground, with the growth point remaining above the surface. The slips don’t need to feature healthy-looking foliage; even the most scraggly-looking slips can yield enormous, robust plants.
The conditions of transplantation have a significant influence on the outcome.
To prevent desiccating small slips with tiny roots, put them on an overcast or rainy day, and hydrate the slips shortly after sowing.
If the slips come when the climate is not suitable for transplantation, you can keep them for another week or longer by putting the wrapped slips in a large pot, lightly covering them with potting mix, & watering frequently. When you’re set to plant, untangle the slips, then plant them one at a time.
Sweet Potato Storage and Safeguarding
Cure sweet potato tubers (dry and tough) for 15 days following collection. Please place them in a warmer (about 80°F) location away from direct sunshine.
Curing can aid in the healing of scratches and wounds and the hardening of the flesh. Curing improves the taste of the tuber as well. Sweet potatoes may be stored for four to six months at 55° to 60°F in a dry, cold, well-ventilated area.
Sweet potatoes should be stored unwashed. When storing the tubers, please put them in newspapers; do not let tubers overlap, or they will decay. Sweet potatoes should not be refrigerated or held at settings under 50°F (10°C). Sweet potatoes could be stored in the freezer, canned, or dried.
How to Maintain Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes may be encouraged to grow on trellises or wires stretched between solid poles.
Weeds should be kept away from small plants. To suppress weeds and decrease soil moisture loss, mulch over plants with loose straws or shredded, dry leaves.
To prevent damaging roots, remove weeds by hands or plow shallowly. The developing sweet potato plant’s leaves will ultimately block out young weeds.