Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes – Introduction

The higher amounts (1.5 times) of vitamin C and higher calories in sweet potatoes than the ordinary garden potato makes it interesting. 

Warmer climates are well known for growing sweet potatoes. But now you can also grow its hardier cultivars in the UK with protection in a cold environment. 

You can boil it, roast it and even cut it into chips. Even you can also use its shoots as a substitute for spinach.

Sowing

You can grow plants from two different types

  • First, you can use mail order cutting
  • Second, you can take plants that are overwintered in a frost-free windowsill or greenhouse 

You can also use the tubers bought from the market to grow the plants. But you need to be careful because sometimes these tubers are not as robust as you expect. Moreover, you must clean these tubers before planting the sweet potatoes because they are often treated with anti-sprouting agents. 

Here are some instructions to sow the tubers

  • Make sure you have placed the tubers in an airy cupboard, warm propagator or moist vermiculite. It will encourage sprouting. 
  • Use the sharp knife to remove the shoots when they are 2-3 inches long. 
  • Add cutting compost into small pots and pot these shoots into them.
  • Root the plants in a warm propagator
  • Use the same process for the shoot cutting from overwintered plants. 

Growing

Outdoor growing

The drained free and moisture-retentive soil suits best the sweet potatoes. Besides, Sweet potatoes love the sunny and sheltered positions. 

  • Make sure the soil is ready according to the plant’s requirements. 
  • Choose a sunny windowsill or frost-free greenhouse to grow plants from late May until early June.
  • Cover the plants with black polythene to offer warmer soil to plants. Besides, black polythene also suppresses the growth of weeds. Spread the polythene over the earth before planting from late March to April.
  • ‘Harden off’ the plants before you plant them outdoors.  
  • Cover the plants with fleece or cloches 

Indoors growing: 

You can also grow the sweet potatoes in the glasshouse border, growing bags in large tubs in the glasshouse. You can also transplant these plants when they have a lot of roots. 

Trellis, canes or strings are used to train the foliages. You can use any good growing material for them. 

  • Ensure that the temperature of the sweet potatoes is 21-26°C
  • Water the plants well.
  • Keep the plants in the greenhouse. 
  • Feed the plants with high potash fertilizer every week
  • Overwinter plants in frost-free windowsill or greenhouse 

Planting 

By far, the best way to grow sweet potatoes is from cuttings, known as slips. You can purchase it from late April onwards through mail order. 

  • Place multipurpose compost in the pots.
  • Pot them immediately once they arrived 
  • Use tepid water to keep the compost moist. 
  • Use clear plastic bags to cover the pots. You can also put them in an unheated propagator till the formation of roots.  

Prefer tubers: 

Tubers are not suitable to grow sweet potatoes outdoors. 

  • Clean the plants before planting before they are treated with anti-sprouting agents 
  • Place tubers in the sand, perlite, or vermiculite in a warm propagator 
  • Remove the 2-3 inches long shoots using a sharp knife.
  • Pot the shoots into small pots
  • Root the plants in a warm propagator 

Harvesting

Four to five months after planting is enough to harvest the sweet potatoes. Yellow leaves that die back in autumn or late summer indicates that it’s time to harvest the sweet potatoes. 

Avoid damaging the fresh tubers by lifting them with great care. However, if any tuber gets damaged by chance, use it immediately without any delay.  

You can boil them, roast them and even make chips from them. 

They are hard to store, so it’s better to use them fresh. However, you can freeze them if you have boiled or blanched them beforehand. 

Even you can cook its leaves and shoots like spinach. 

sweet potatoes

Common problems

Glasshouse red spider or two-spotted mite

Here’re some symptoms that indicate the appearance of a two-spotted mite

  • Mottled Leaves 
  • Webbed leaves with a lot of mites on them
  • Premature falling of leaves 

Remedy

  • Mist the plants regularly
  • Control the mites biologically

Whitefly

Small white flies suck the sap from the plants, excreting sticky honeydew over them. It results in the development of sooty mould over the plants.   

Remedy

Use sticky traps or biological control in the greenhouse.

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09/01/2021 | Vegetables | 0 Comments

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