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.

Sweet Potato Overview

Genus Name Ipomoea batatas
Common Name Sweet Potato
Plant Type Vegetable
Light Sun
Height 1 to 3 feet
Width 12 to 48 inches
Propagation Leaf Cuttings, Stem Cuttings

Harvesting Sweet Potato

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 degrees F for one or two weeks. Move the roots to a dry location at 55 to 60 degrees F for storage. Flavor will improve after several weeks of storage as starches in the roots convert to sugar.

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