By Guest Author Julio Phillips
Sweet potatoes are a staple food in many countries around the world. They’re a starchy and nutritious root vegetable that can be eaten raw or cooked and are used in pies, breads, and other snacks and pastries.
Believe it or not, sweet potatoes are not actually potatoes, they’re the roots (tubers, technically) of a plant in the Morning Glory family. They’re also not the same as Yams, contrary to the signs hanging above them in many grocery stores. One thing is for certain, and that is sweet potatoes should be a regular part of your diet as they’re loaded with Vitamins A, B, C, D, and many other vitamins and antioxidants.
Sweet potatoes grown below USDA Zone 8 are a perennial crop. Above Zone 8, they’re grown as warm season annuals. If you’re growing sweet potatoes in containers, treat them as an annual regardless of where you live. If you want to learn more about how to grow sweet potatoes, check out this comprehensive guide by Farm & Animals.
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Growing Sweet Potatoes in Containers
If you’d like to grow sweet potatoes at home but don’t have enough room in your garden, or no garden at all, you can grow sweet potatoes in large containers in your yard, or on your deck, porch or patio.
Here are the steps to grow sweet potatoes in containers:
Choose a sweet potato variety for container growing
Selection of the proper sweet potato variety for container growing is important – if you choose a variety for field growing you’ll be overwhelmed with the vines. The two most common container-grown varieties are Vardaman and Porto Rico (aka Puerto Rico or Porto Rica). Sweet potatoes don’t grow from seeds, they’re planted from transplants or slips, which you can get from your local farmer’s market, plant nursery, or online.
Use a properly sized container
You can use plastic or ceramic buckets, pots, or grow bags of at least 30-gallon size, with at least 4 holes in the bottom for drainage (sweet potatoes will rot if waterlogged). If you bought a tree recently and still have the container it arrived in, that container should be perfect. The rule of thumb is the more soil you provide, the more sweet potatoes you’ll have, as the tubers really like to spread out.
Use high quality potting soil
It’s a best practice to not use soil from your backyard for growing anything in containers. Use a high-grade potting soil instead. Yard soil may contain heavy clay, too much sand, may be compacted and abused from years of applied lawn chemicals, or contain pollutants in urban settings. If the potting soil also includes fertilizer, you shouldn’t need to add any additional fertilizer. If there is no fertilizer included, use an all-purpose organic garden fertilizer for vegetables. Do not use a high nitrogen fertilizer as this will create a massive vine and very few sweet potatoes.
Give them enough sunlight
One of the most important things to keep in mind when growing sweet potatoes in containers is that they need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. But they don’t do well in scorching afternoon heat, so they can benefit from late afternoon shade. Position your containers if possible to take advantage of shade from trees, walls, porch coverings, etc.
Give them proper water
Water sweet potatoes need to be watered once or twice daily, depending on your weather. Potting soil should be kept damp but not saturated – the rule of thumb is to water slowly and then stop when water is draining from the bottom of the pot. Watering slowly ensures that the potting soil takes up the water and isn’t letting it run through.
When to harvest sweet potatoes in containers
Check the time to harvest provided with your sweet potato purchase – most container-grown sweet potatoes are ready in roughly 120 days. You’ll know that your plant is ready to harvest when its leaves start turning yellow.
To harvest container-grown sweet potatoes, follow these steps:
- Your plant will be pretty big by harvest time, so trim the foliage at the soil surface. Then, carefully remove the sweet potato tubers from the pot by tipping it on its side. It’s important you do not scratch the potatoes with any tools, as damaging the skin may cause the sweet potato to rot in storage.
- Shake off any soil clinging to the sweet potato, but do not brush it off with your hand or any garden tool. Once again, you don’t want to damage the skin.
- Your sweet potatoes need to “cure” to make them sweet. This requires 10-14 days. Lay them in a warm, well ventilated area that’s protected from animals,indoors or outside. Once they cure, knock the dried soil from the sweet potato.
- Store your sweet potatoes in a potato bin or similar container that receives air in a cool room, such as a garage or basement.
Author’s Bio: Julio Phillips is a successful blogger who has gained thousands of readers across the world because of his blogs on home improvement. Julio utilizes his blog to educate readers and often submits guest posts to other websites.
this article was firstly published by https://www.bigblogofgardening.com