Plant Type
Sunlight Amount

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Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are undergoing a renaissance. Once a sticky, frumpy food eaten only at Thanksgiving, a renewed appreciation for this root vegetable's powerful nutritional value has made it popular once again. Go ahead and mash sweet potatoes with maple syrup or use them in a marshmallow-studded casserole, but also try baking them like regular potatoes or cutting them into strips, tossing it with oil, and roasting at a high heat for sweet potato oven fries.

The fleshy roots of sweet potato are often mistakenly called yams, which are a different tropical root crop. Sweet potatoes require a long, warm growing season to mature -- which is why they've been a Southern favorite. Plant slips (sprouts) of sweet potatoes after spring weather has warmed and all danger of frost has passed. In cool-summer areas, plant the slips through slits in black plastic mulch, which will warm the soil and speed development.

genus name
  • Ipomoea batatas
light
  • Sun
plant type
  • Vegetable
height
  • 1 to 3 feet
width
  • 12-48 inches wide
propagation
harvest tips
  • Harvest sweet potato vines 90 to 110 days after planting, or after the vines have been lightly frosted. With a garden fork, carefully dig the vines and separate the roots. Cure harvested sweet potatoes in high humidity at 80° to 90°F for one or two weeks. Move the roots to a dry location at 55° to 60°F for storage. Flavor will improve after several weeks of storage as starches in the roots convert to sugar.

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