when to harvest sweet potatoes in virginia


I have never done this before, so I keep looking on line for advice. And, by now, that breakfast has long since come and gone. Thanks, Melissa! Any advice would be much appreciated…. Since you’re starting with very sandy soil, I’d suggest working in several inches of compost and adding organic mulch (grass clippings, shredded leaves, straw, etc) to help retain soil moisture. I put them in the ground where there is 6-10 inches of heavy decomposing mulch over mostly sand (near Tampa, FL). My second problem: We leave for Naples, Florida, around Thanksgiving. Thank you so much for putting so much info out here for us all to learn from. Well, I wanted to see what was underneath the huge mounds under my sweet potato plants, and I dug around with my fingers under one, very gently. Choose when to dig them up, ahead of cold weather. I’m going to risk it and let them keep growing. I put them there as an after thought because I ended up with too many slips for my containers. Expect to dig up an area about the size of a hulu hoop around your plants. That means you’ll need to cure them. I don’t know this for a fact, but I do think the last month or so of growth is when the tubers put on their most size. Planted by first sweet potatoes this year, June, Northern Indiana, and saw the leaves starting to change color just a bit. Jeanne, Can you please expound on this a bit, is the high temp and humidity supposed to develop “sweeter” taste? Wow that’s alot of sweet potatoes! Does this environment cure the skin and possibly seal cuts, etc? You want to avoid puncturing or damaging the roots as much as possible. To store them, sight unseen, for 4 1/2 months?? These are tropical plants. The variety matters too — some sweet potato varieties mature a full month earlier than others. Thanks for some great information. I planted in an old wheelbarrow and one planter in our front yard which is totally covered with the vines. Success! So, perhaps harvest them a few weeks before the monsoon season begins? Check out this post for tips on starting your own slips next spring: Grow Your Own Sweet Potatoes. Something I did wrong. Wow! Found another way to eat sweet potato leaves. One sweet potato plant can yield on average 2-1/2 pounds of potatoes, or 100 pounds or more from a 20-foot row. My goodness, those are some beautiful sweet potatoes! Hey Cristina not sure if your still around but I grew sweet potatoes for the first time this year in my garden. I bet those fries and chips were delicious. Thanks for your input. If the growing season has been good with adequate water and sunshine, harvesting sweet potatoes should begin about 100-110 days after planting depending on the variety. How many slips do you put in your basket? Start the season with a one-pound tuber. I just read your blog. Last year I planted 18 slips and had a great harvest. Once the soil cools to around 50 degrees F, the quality and storage life of the sweet potato is reduced. I’d love to hear about your sweet potato experiences from this summer. Nice! Need a little help breaking the rules, or wanna brag a bit about how many tomatoes you harvested from your front yard? I did all the right things and they do not look right on the inside. So, fingers crossed! Midseason potatoes require 101 to 135 cool days to reach harvest. I’ve noticed the same thing here. Sauté them just like spinach, and enjoy! Have you harvested yet? This will be my first year container gardening. I wonder if I could drag the pot indoors if a particular night was questionable? It just has not been worth the effort or the expense. Great advice, Dan! I got all my questions answered in one place. I am wondering if you tried/had any luck lining your bushel baskets like you talked about trying. This year, I’m going to use the spare closet in the guest room. Some of my harvest so far are ginormous — almost soccerball sized and 5 to 6lbs each. The tubers look tough and indestructible, but they bruise easily. I will report back. It sounds like you may have another month of growing season before that’s even a possibility, so hopefully your remaining sweets will bulk up some more. You can wait until the first frost to harvest sweet potatoes, in fact, some folks claim that they are better if you do, but you must be ready to get them out of the ground immediately. Enjoy! Choose an intermediate date if you are located somewhere in the middle. Congrats!! After your first crop of potatoes is harvested you can plant another crop of early maturing potatoes and have 2 harvests of potatoes in one season. When considering what variety of potatoes to plant, think about when you would ideally like to have a potato harvest. So glad you’re finding useful stuff here! should these be harvested prior to Monsoon here in July 2016? VIRGINIA BEACH — Virginians’ appetite for sweet potatoes is increasing, and local growers are harvesting an ample supply to meet consumers’ holiday needs. Next time try working in about 1/4 to 1/3 sand into your soil+compost. I’m in Virginia where things are a bit milder. My garden is completely in full sun. The containers last for years. Virginia red clay does make for some interesting gardening challenges, doesn’t it? I live in AZ they get plenty of sunshine and water I haven’t harvested them yet will let you know results when I do. Thank you for the advise, I compost all winter and the compost I use in Sidney, you could do an experiement with perlite & vermiculite. Most varieties of sweet potatoes are ready to harvest between 90 and 120 days of planting. If you are curious, you can always *gently* brush the soil away from the base of the plant. So, not the best eating, usually. I love eating them. Clues that sweet potatoes are ready to harvest. I live in Tucson, Az. If you’re further south then Virginia, you may have a growing season that’s far longer than 90-120 days. We are leaving Wednesday for a visit to my son’s place in Austin so that should keep my hands off of them! I haven’t harvested first crop yet and I’m desperately hoping I actually have something to cure and store.. From these plants I harvested roughly 95 pounds with the largest the size of a small dog (16 pounds), you already answered one of my questions but I do have another. I have since covered it with the straw mulch I’m using, but was wondering if it being exposed will hurt that potato at all? Here is another sweet potato souffle recipe that I have made before. I suspect curing probably helps toughen the skin and seal cuts, as you mention, but my sweets haven’t really suffered for skipping it. Step 5 Cut seed potatoes into 1 1/2-inch cubes. A proper curing will help sweeten the roots, but they seem to do ok without as well. I cut it up in pieces and stuck them in a pile of manure from the goat shed. VIRGINIA BEACH — Virginians’ appetite for sweet potatoes is increasing, and local growers are harvesting an ample supply to meet consumers’ holiday needs. I’m in Phx and planted a slip in April. I ordered some purple varieties. I pulled all our from the tires. Hi Jackie — Sounds like you have a very happy sweet potato plant! Keep u posted. I planted beauregard slips around the middle of June and have a jungle of vines. Simple math shows the average acre produces 33 pounds of potatoes. More preparation is needed for the next time so after the harvest, I dug down further, with the help of my neighbor (he’s the real gardener; we share the back yard behind our townhouses) and filled it with compost, hay and top soil. My real question is on curing them…I don’t have the space or means to provide a (very) warm temp 80-85F as recommended for approx 2-wks. To answer your questions, I actually find it’s easier to skip the heat+humidity style of curing, and instead just move the sweets directly into storage. They just grow larger and more numerous. And, congrats on that harvest! Yep, people love their sweet potatoes. This was the first time i attempted to grow any sweet potatoes. You can eat those sweet potato leaves with confidence, Dawn! Ours should be here any day and we are trying to find room for them. I put in 8 inch deep raised beds, filled them with Miracle-Grow garden soil and planted the first of June. The good part of container sweet potatoes, aside from the voles not getting into the containers, is it frees up space in my garden for peppers, tomatoes, summer squash, etc. Jesus where will I put them? We just harvested them yesterday and I didn’t know that you have to wait a while before you cook/eat it. To harvest potatoes, you’ll need a shovel or a spading fork. Started my Sweets for one that was left over from Easter dinner at the end of May. leaves are more sought after then the tubers. I wouldn’t worry too much about the lack of flowers; some varieties of sweet potatoes don’t produce flowers. Sweet potatoes want light, well-draining soil. It’s only mid September , first frost could be as early as October or as late as November. If you have enough warning, though, try draping a heavy-weight garden fabric over your sweet potato bed before the rain starts, and remove it … They should transplant just fine. I’ve also been known to tuck old quilts and towels around tender plants to protect them temporarily from cold and frost. So easy, I use low sodium chicken broth and they shrink up like spinach. Here in Florida we realy do not get weather until Jan/Feb and I plated at the end of April so i guess I’ll check in a few months. Better than spinach! Vines are now in compost pile. Virginia' for fruit, vegetables, pumpkins and other crops. I hate to waste them and could give some away or I could maybe take some down to Florida (if I can find some room in the car!). I use containers, the one I put in almost full sun got fried big time.. Just watch the weather report, and head out to dig up your sweets when you start seeing weather … Our sand is definitely sandy but kind of afraid of letting the run loose in ground. I will try some of the leaves sauté though. You want the roots to dry as quickly as possible, and the dirt won’t hurt them (or you). If you went the traditional route, and planted you sweet potatoes in the ground, you’ve got some digging ahead of you. If you grew your sweets in containers, simply dump the dirt out and root around for your harvest. Wait until after March 15 in the eastern portion of Virginia, or as late as April 20 in the western mountainous area of Virginia. Either way, I'd love to hear from you. Stored in a single layer, or w paper between layers? Delaware is unpredictable like that! Few crops produce a larger harvest from a smaller investment than sweet potatoes. I was just telling someone else today that bacon makes everything better! As for curing… I’m honestly rather lazy about it. Over 2 33 gallon trash cans currently still washing ^ cutting the leave from the Vine. And, stay tuned for a post about how to cure your sweets. We aren’t really in the ideal climate for tropical plants, but I’m hoping to get lucky with lots of love and attention. Maybe I will try again next year. When to Harvest Sweet Potatoes. My grandkids are planning to help with the digging. Your email address will not be published. Instead, look at your calendar, and plan to harvest your sweets about 120 days after you planted them. Just-harvested sweet potatoes taste nothing like you’d hope. I think I will take your advice and wait a few weeks. So, the longer you let your sweet potatoes grow, the larger your harvest will be. Ok I have a question that I’ve never seen mentioned anywhere… Your freshly harvested sweets in the picture above are “rooty” do you clip those roots or cure then clip?? this next season. Or more! lol. According to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, 261 Virginia farms produced sweet potatoes for fresh market consumption, more than double the 120 farms that grew them in 2012. Christina, Will they be ok? This will keep the worms working and loosening the soil below. They’re a great choice for front yard growing! You’ll find a lot of information about growing them here, including in the comments: http://www.outlawgarden.com/2012/04/25/grow-your-own-sweet-potatoes/. Can you tell me how to save for next year. i usually get about 3-5 lbs per slip of beauregard and frazier white. compost and a good soil base. Nuthin. In that time, I’ve imported an aggregate of more than 24″ of composted horse & chicken manure. By the time I finish digging it all, I should have hundreds of lbs. But we cooked some this morning and it was very sweet. In fact, I’ve read that sweet potatoes produce more calories per acre than any other crop. When to harvest sweet potatoes will depend on the cultivar that you purchased. I’m afraid I don’t have a definite answer for you about burlap sacks, just because I’m never gardened in your climate. I am going to let then ago a couple more weeks. I had a couple of sweet potatoes that had started to eye so I used what I could for mashed potatoes and planted the eyes. Nuthin. My sweets came out very small. Last year, I planted chunks (just like planting regular potatoes) in March. Thanks for the information. VARIETIES. I loved the sweet potatoes greens! You should try it. They’re totally safe and quite tasty. I’m going to guess it was about 30lbs. 4. God did the rest. I am learning it is best to keep them in about 60 degrees, but we don’t keep our home that cool (who does?). Many varieties, such as the popular Beauregard, grow very easily. Please advise or can it wait till Novemner 2016? Being busy with other things, I left them there for a year and a half. If you’re harvesting for supper, drive your fork into the soil at the outside edges of the plant. just discovered your site (Love It)! Of course, some folks prefer smaller sweet potato tubers because they want to be able to cook smaller portions. They are hardy green and full of blooms. What do you do with yours? Sounds great, Richard! Your sweets should be waiting for you on your return. You may be right that the dense clay soil affected your harvest; sweets do seem to grow best in loose or sandy soil. Hello This is 2nd yr in delaware. I neglected them as I did much of the garden since I got pregnant mid-season, but these beauties didn’t disappoint. They have vined out over, under and through my entire garden. Thanks for the information on your site and have it now in my Bookmarks. So I put it in a glass with alittle water …and BAMMMM, had a plant/vine growing in days. slips from a single root, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a 50-to-1 rate of return on sweet potatoes. Would you like to receive our daily news? http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sweet-potato-souffl-10000000521202/. Over time, you will build up some truly fertile soil, and should see much improved harvests. Last year’s tubers were stored in a cardboard box on the floor of my pantry and were still edible when this year’s crop started to come in. Harvested acreage also has increased, from132 acres in 2012 to 223 acres in 2017. It’s no wonder the sweets escaped. Looked on line, made a bed in the corner of my yard. • Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same. I currently live in South Carolina, but am moving back to Tucson by next April, so have appreciated the comments from those folks living in AZ, since I will be planting there next spring. Carefully lift the plant and remove the potatoes you need. If none of these ideas are advisable, I probably will just have to use what I can and then let the rest compost in my garden. I had a store bought sweet potatoe that sprouted roots and some green leaves I cut it in half and stuck it in 2 pots and started watering. If he were to ask me, I’d suggest he dig up just one plant and see how things look. Here in PA, we aim to harvest them before the first fall frost which is still nearly a month away. Harvested acreage also has increased, from132 acres in 2012 to 223 acres in 2017. Sounds like you have a great harvest ahead of you, Jacki. I honestly haven’t tested this theory yet. As for the rest, I have to admit I’m no expert on Florida gardens. Sorry, there are no recent results for popular commented articles. Thank you for sharing! Congrats also on that impressive pumpkin harvest. Plant those slips. “The main thing now is to keep them in a good condition to sell,” Slade said. I dug around by hand the other day. I planted my slips in May and harvested them in November. Since most of my plants produced about five pounds of roots each, and most sweet potatoes will produce 10-15 (or more!) How critical is this? Again i did nothing more. I’ve got Beauregard and garnets. Sweet potatoes grow best in raised beds with organic soils in the desert. When receiving your slips, it is important to read the packing. Is that wise? . I have been reading about perlite and vermiculits and I wondered if sweet Good luck with your sweets! We got three slips from a guest speaker at a 4H meeting, he said they were a special developed purple sweet potato from, I think he said North or South Carolina. If you only have bud vases, only one slip will fit. Put my homegrown slips in the ground near Daytona Beach, Florida about 30+ days ago. slips from a single root, Please share your stories in the comments section below, http://www.williams-kitchen.com/2012/11/sweet-potato-hash-egg-bake/, http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sweet-potato-souffl-10000000521202/, http://www.outlawgarden.com/2012/04/25/grow-your-own-sweet-potatoes/, http://www.outlawgarden.com/2013/10/31/no-more-bushel-baskets/, Nature, Science, and Gardening-Inspired Gifts for Toddlers. Good luck with your sweets, Marilyn! I grew slips from potatoes left behind by a farmer after harvest, so zero dollars invested! I planted 5 sweet potato plants this year… and then a few more volunteers also sprouted out of roots from last year’s harvest. “As the market grows, and we see the merits of going direct-to-consumer over wholesale, you need to come up with ways to extend your season and extend your cash flow. You’ll find more about my experience here: http://www.outlawgarden.com/2013/10/31/no-more-bushel-baskets/. In fact, my favorite way to grow sweet potatoes is right in an old chicken feed bag on my deck. Wow, Trudy! About curing: how warm & is it a dark place for curing? When they get this big, I know they’re ready to harvest. ), but the taste was flat. Don’t throw your sweets. However you harvest them, do so slowly and gently. Above all, do your best to harvest your sweets before the first frost. We’ll see how the roots did… I’ve had VERY mixed results with harvests from different baskets, and suspect that some baskets may be treated with chemicals that affect growth. I’m going to plant earlier this next year so I can harvest in September and allowing them to cure a few day. I’m holding out as long as possible to harvest those… maybe at the end of October. Bakes sweet potato fries are another tasty way to use too-large-to-roast-whole roots. I live in West Virginia, which is in horticultural zone 6a. Hoping to harvest soon. I planted the slips in a “grow container”, purchased online. http://www.williams-kitchen.com/2012/11/sweet-potato-hash-egg-bake/. I started to work at building soil in my garden area 4 years ago, NW of Phoenix, AZ. Two full boxes worth, with overflow in mixing bowls and all over the kitchen counter. They weren’t rotten or anything, some were really big. Good luck with them next year! Christina, I LOVE this blog, both for your wisdom & encouragement & for all the contributors’ experiences, I live in central Iowa & planted 3-4 plants in one of our 8X5 raised beds. I’ve had some push above the ground in the past, and they always seem to come out just fine despite their exposure. I agree with Christina: I wouldn’t call it a mistake. PUBLISHED ON November 5, 2020. I put slips from my sweet plants before I harvest them in vases of water and winter over till spring. Harvest Time Matters. Thanks for sharing. Cultivating 2 acres of sweet potatoes on his farm, Flanagan said he produced a high-quality crop this year despite seeing slightly diminished yields due to drought conditions in July. Keep a three-inch layer of mulch on the patch. Am a little worried about “curing”. Congratulations! No photos, but great descriptions. I put landscape cloth in the bottom and fill the containers each year with fresh compost made from leaves, kitchen scrapes, some chicken manure, and coffee grounds from the local Starbucks. But, if you only have a short growing season or discover you’ve got smaller-than-expected tubers, don’t sweat it. It is very delicious. Because I have a lot of problems with voles munching on my sweet potatoes, I have grown container potatoes for the last several years. Or, you could just experiment; try growing a couple sweet potatoes in different containers (including those burlap sacks), and then compare your harvests at season’s end. I only have 3 tubers and have been hunting all over about “can I cook them now instead of waiting?”. Different opinions and all hard to find! At the Southern Nevada Research Center, Beauregard produced the largest crop out of the 5 trial varieties and had very little damage due to insects and pests. We have a nice plant now. Haha. I see you simply stored your potatoes in a box (approx 65F) and seemed to work ok?? “Sweet potatoes are getting more market share everywhere, and consumers are demanding them more,” Flanagan said. I was looking for right time to harvest info. Then filled with a mixture of wood shavings clean topsoil and dried manure and planted the slips. My problem: How in the world do you cure in Northern Indiana in October?? and if you factor in the use of the leaves, your return is even bigger! Thank you, Dawn, Your biggest harvest should be directly under where the main plant is rooted, but you may also have smaller tubers scattered wherever the vines have rooted. According to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, 261 Virginia farms produced sweet potatoes for fresh market consumption, more than double the 120 farms that grew them in 2012. And sweet potatoes continue to grow in popularity, period.”. I have another question, I was told by an older woman, that the leaves were eadable, cook them like fresh spinach, has any one tried this, truth is I’m a little scared, don’t want to pioson my family. I planted 18 sweet potato slips this spring, all started from two tubers I’d saved from my 2011 harvest. Just be sure to store them in conditions where the ambient temperature is above 55°F.Enjoy that harvest! Required fields are marked *. We have the same trouble here in Virginia — I just skip the whole curing thing and go straight to storage. I do suggest waiting about 4-6 weeks before eating them — that gives the sugars time to develop. . Thanks for the recipe suggestions, Alice! If you’re further north, you’ll want to do the same thing; harvest your sweet potatoes as late as possible. Now I need all the sweet potato recipes that I can get. I freeze about ten bags of them. Some researchers working in Vietnam, discovered that harvesting 25%, 50%, 75% or 100% of the vines every 15, 20, or 30 days (ignoring the information about the season of the year and the varieties) gave the sort of results you might expect. Sweet potatoes, like regular potatoes, don’t ripen. Planning on growing them again next year? Sweet potatoes are stubborn plants, and their roots will find any crack or hole in the container. Then, harvest about 50 pounds in the fall. Roy Flanagan, who grows sweet potatoes at Flanagan Farm in Virginia Beach, attributed the increased production to farmers expanding direct-to-consumer offerings to improve their bottom lines. As for those store-bought sweet potatoes… They should be perfectly edible. Or does it really depend on when they were planted or the zone in which one lives? Looking forward to seeing my yield and hope to have some left over for next years planting. I can site the containers in sunny spots anywhere in the yard. get the garden sand and take your advise. I don’t know if it just didn’t like the soil or if I didn’t water enough. Thanks again. Love your blog, and consistently referred to it during my whole first year experience. The rest (very small) I made into sweet potato chips and fries…couldn’t wait to cure them! Olive oil, Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.. A clear sky. So hopefully the week they sat in the bucket in my kitchen was warm enough to help them along thanks for your wonderful blog. Sweet potatoes are fully mature at this point and you should harvest them before the first frost. To answer your question, a month should definitely do it. That’s an AMAZING harvest! Maybe I’ll take the plunge this time, especially since I have an 8ft x 8ft bed full of them! Thanks again. I’m new this year with sweet potatoes, I purchase slips at the feed store. Sweet potatoes in the FRONT yard next year! Whatever you do, good luck with the sweet potatoes and please report back with your results! Sweet potatoes are native to more southern climates and hence grow better in a relatively sandy soil. Sadly when I was harvesting I split one tuber so I’m not sure of that will affect their keeping. He noted that if sales continue at their current pace, he will likely be sold out by Thanksgiving. If you can, try to resist cooking up your crop right away. I’m hoping that the sun beaming on the brick wall of the house will hold the heat and help keep the plants warm enough to last another month. Lots of reading here. How to Harvest. However, given enough time, I suspect they will grow back. You should cure your sweet potatoes before storage. I think you’d have better luck adding coarse sand to your soil, Sidney. [Update: The theory is correct. The vines grew like mad. Are you happy or disappointed with the harvest? click here to learn how to start your own slips. Earlier this year I found your website through Pinterest and have been anxiously awaiting the time when I could start my sweet potato garden. Way I figure, with nearly 70 pounds of sweet potatoes in my kitchen, I’ve got enough on hand to do a little experimenting. But, my best guess is that you should harvest before the monsoon season. Didn’t quite know what to expect, since it was my first time, but I will definitely do again next year. Thanks guys. . Just don’t leave them longer than that — once frost kills the plant, the tubers will rot very quickly. Error! As gardening goes I am new to this and love to experiment. Despite hot and dry conditions causing some of his crop to be misshapen, Slade said sales have been brisk. You can eat the sweet potato leaves, too. Usually this occurs in late September or early … Now that you know when to dig potatoes, the question becomes how. Enjoyed your website. The rate of return is also amazing. I live near orchards, so I think I could round up some bushel baskets. A New Spring and a New Look for Outlaw Garden. The waiting-before-eating thing isn’t a MUST, but it does help increase the sweetness. There are scads of different sweet potato varieties, and I’m honestly not even sure of the variety names for all the sweets I grow (some are started from store-bought tubers, like yours). I’ve been selling some off now for the second year. Regardless of the taste quality of just-picked sweets, you probably have enough roots on hand that you’ll need to store some of them. Fingers crossed for a good harvest! I’m better your sweets were happily growing as big as possible above ground, taking advantage of all that fertility, and just didn’t get around to producing tubers below ground. Sounds like a great first year for sweet potatoes. I did use lots of compost in the bed but no sand. Hoping for 10 to 15 pounds at least, But honestly will be happy with anything over 5 pounds. Things grow quick, but not real plentiful. What is a tuber? Temperatures range from mid-60s to mid-70s, and they seem to do just fine. I stacked tires 2 high. The vines are now everywhere, even growing up the fence on the southern garden perimeter! each! Your garage might be getting a bit too hot during the day for long-term storage (although they should be fine there for a few weeks, and may be ok for longer). Can’t wait to see what it produces. The really nice thing about sweet potatoes — as I’m sure you noticed with your plants this year — is that they are really good looking plants. Let them cure for a week or 10 days to help heal small nicks and toughen the skin. Also, try a couple different varieties of sweets. I put in a few more in May and then BINGO!! They really are the easiest crop to store. Thanks so much for your comment, Hannah! It’s my first time, so I have no idea. First year for me growing Sweets and I did ok but always room for improvement. There’s no real trick for harvesting sweets. in ground or planter. One of the easiest edibles to start off with is the humble potato. Don’t drop them. This should expose some of your sweets’ developing tubers, and give you an idea of their size. Just harvested. The website also has canning & freezing instructions, related events and fun and listings for every other state and many countries! I can’t wait to see my harvest, but I hate to lose the vine because it is so beautiful. My sweetyyys turns rubbery what did I do wrong If the tubers are big, then his crop is ready. We’ve got some leafy plants in there for the winter, but I’m looking forward to planting more sweets there next spring, including the Porto Ricos. I’m in NJ and this was the first season I grew sweet potatoes. I started off planting the tubers it self in a gunny bag and have planted 2 slips each in a gunny bag in February 2016. That split root can likely still be used, but won’t store nearly as long as the rest. Would you like to receive our daily news? I grew sweets for the first time this ear and being in southern Va., I wanted to know when to dig them.The vines are blooming and growing so pretty still the first week of Oct.I grew these from store bought slips.Thank you for your info on when to dig.Your info was most helpful and I will be checking it out often. You see why I like this rate of return? From edible landscapes and front yard vegetable gardens, to incorporating native plants and attracting pollinators, if you've ever questioned the "rules" of vegetable gardening, this site is for you! Virginians’ appetite for sweet potatoes is increasing, and local growers are harvesting an ample supply to meet consumers’ holiday needs. Now I sit and wait and stare at my little crop. It is October now. July?) When to harvest sweet potatoes depends largely on the seasonal growing. I now have 2 beautiful big plants. Didn’t have as many as I expected – unless they are still down there! Did you grow sweet potatoes this year? Thanks! This year I planted 36 slips and will be harvesting them in 3-4 weeks. And, if you do have an early-maturing type mixed in there, the extra growing time won’t cause problems; you’ll just end up with larger tubers. “But the quality of the sweet potatoes I have is great, the yield was great, and the taste is awesome—just as good as they’ve ever been. My favorite is a purple sweet that I got from our local organic market. So glad you’re finding the post helpful, Susan, and congrats on those happy plants! Virginia sweet potato harvest is plentiful Harvested acreage also has increased, from 132 acres in 2012 to 223 acres in 2017. On OCT 7th.2016 Very happy again.with my harvest This year I for the first time harvest all the Vines.Tgere is a Market for them. The roots look like long vines but no sweet potatoes. There are potato varieties that are bred to do well planted earlier, in the colder weather and that will mature faster – these are known as early varieties. And I’ve already laid them in drawers lined with brown paper bags in my basement. Cristina or Richard; maybe both:- Isn’t he digging them up too early since I thought we needed to wait until just before first frost or at least until mid October. Later i learned how to start my own. Not a ton of them but enough for the two of us. I've never planted sweet potatoes before. Those are certainly pretty that you have there and especially the bigger ones, and you can use the small ones to stew, freeze, make pies or put a small amount in raw salads; would not use too many that way for might cause diarrhea, at least they do to me. The leaves are finally starting to turn yellow from the 4 plants that covered my back yard so I should be ready to harvest in a week or so. Will a month “cure” the spuds? But your hunch is right — none are poisonous. The containers dry out more easily than a garden space so its important to check the containers almost daily, especially if there hasn’t been any rain. I haven’t tried ‘Mursaki’ yet, but I think I’ve seen it in one of my garden catalogs. So easy, attractive and delicious. Cliff Slade, who grows 5 acres of Bonita, Covington and other heirloom varieties at Slade Farms in Surry County, said he had one of his best-ever harvests this year. Don’t wait for that first frost, or those first cold nights. Beans grew well, Yukon Gold’s did OK this spring, but that has been about it. This is my first time growing a potato of any kind, had no idea what I was doing or what to expect. This is one of the best “sweet potato” sites I’ve found! Grab a digging fork and start turning the soil beneath your plant. I didn’t read about the curing period until just now. Somehow they don’t like good rich soil. These did indeed sprout right away and I planted them, but then the “ordinary” sweet sprouted, so I planted a couple of slips from that one. And, good luck with your own harvest! But they are perennials, and I’ve always wondered what would happen if they were just allowed to grow year-round. sweets. I don’t think the tubers would form underwater. What an amazing harvest! Usually, sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves and ends of the vines have started turning yellow, but you can leave them in the ground up until the fall frost. If your answer is yes man oh man do I have a LOT of digging to do. Thank you, I generally store them a couple layers deep in plastic storage bins in a spare closet. This year, I’m going to see what a just-harvested sweet potato tastes like. Has any one every tried to grow the sweets hydroponically? This is a short video on my experience. Then, I clip off any remaining roots right before I cook the sweets. I put 5-6 slips per vase and they work better in clear glass vases. My biggest tubers and best-producing plants were all in full or nearly full sun. Thank you.. I am from NC and know exactly what type of soil you have! Thank you for the help. They never flowered but did get some foliage so I’m worried that they’ll be no tubers, but this is my first yr so I haven’t a clue! I don’t use bushel baskets anymore, however. Have been promising to bring the sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving Dinner. I roasted one last night and served it with lots of butter and a dash of salt and pepper, my favorite easy sweet potato dish. I decided to remove all the vines yesterday and voila! Usually sweet potatoes are harvested in the week that the first frost typically occurs in your region. I was given 3 sweet potato slips about a year and a half ago. This means you will normally have an earlier harvest also. For those super-sized roots, I’d suggest cutting them down before cooking with them. Worked great, and very easy.]. Typically, most varieties will take about three to four months to mature – about 90 to 120 days, but there are some newer varieties that take less time and bred specifically for northern climates (such as Georgia Jet, Vardaman, Centennial). Any idea as to what I’m doing wrong? While some sweet potato varieties are ready in as little as 90 days, all should be harvestable by 100-120 days. I’ve found no real difference in taste or storage longevity either way, and agree that it can be a hassle to properly set up. Yum! all my gardens grew beautiful fruits and vegs all except the sweet potatoes. But, if you can hold off for a couple months, I suspect the wait will be worth it.]. West Virginia Harvest Calendar - PickYourOwn.org When fruit and vegetables are normally available and ready to pick in West Virginia! The website also has canning & freezing instructions, related events and fun and listings for every other state and many countries! Great pictures , great instructions and excellent explanation of the process . This is my first year for sweet potato. Handle them like eggs, and you should be golden. I’ve been feeding the stringy roots, damaged tubers and gnarly looking ones to the horses… vines, too. I know that sweets will grow happily in unlined baskets too, so don’t sweat it if you decide to skip that step. Congrats on your sweet potatoes! Sweets are definitely worth a try. Enjoy your harvest! Once frost hits, it’s best to dig them up within a day or two. You can also harvest sweet potatoes earlier than this, when they are slightly immature. We'll send breaking news and news alerts to you as they happen! Covington sweet potatoes can also be baked, whipped, and seasoned with cardamom and nutmeg or roasted in olive oil and brushed with a cinnamon and honey lime glaze to create a sweet dish. You may be able to keep some of the vines alive by replanting them after harvesting, but they will be diminished for sure. Some don’t even produce real tubers, and others taste mighty bland. But unlike yours mine was not a success story. To be honest, I no longer try to cure my sweet potatoes. I do eat the leaves and Just don’t put your sweet potatoes in the refrigerator, and you should be fine. Wow, Jeanne! Here in Alabama frost comes a little later. Most varieties of sweet potatoes will hide most of their edible tubers near the base of the plant, but some sprawl further. I’ll take this kind of year anytime you want to give it to me.”. Brush off loose dirt and leave them in the sun for a few hours, then move to a table or shed that is warm and has good air circulation. Sweet potatoes are usually ready to harvest in 90-120 days, depending on the variety. This is my third year growing sweet potatoes. The “tuber” is the swollen root that you would buy at the food store for eating. I’m always brainstorming useful inexpensive container options. And, yes, you’re probably right that lack of sun contributed to the smaller tubers. Dementia Related Psychosis: Four Caregiver Facts You Need to Know, Man convicted of 2008 rape charged with murder of Prince George woman, Friends, employees gather for Sweet Emporia Bakery ribbon cutting, Board accepts bid for Confederate monument removal, Debris removal a cornerstone for City water supply, Jaycees Emporia Christmas Parade scheduled Dec. 4, Greensville Board approves supplemental payments for Co. workers, Holiday Wreath Workshop returns to local extension office Dec. 12, Emporia-Greensville testing event a “big improvement”. How to Harvest Potatoes. I use a bit of olive oil & sea salt and saute in a pan until thoroughly cooked. The longer you wait, the bigger the potatoes, but you are gambling with the weather. I have written plenty already in previous years about harvesting, so I won’t go into it here. I used containers on my back deck. Either way, I have not noticed a difference in the size of harvest. Waiting just a tiny bit longer for the heat to really settle in… But! I am in Tampa Bay area, high 70’s to low 80’s in the day 60’s at night. If you’re further north, you’ll want to do the same thing; harvest your sweet potatoes as late as possible. Most plants gave me 4 or 5 good size potatoes but I had one plant that produced 10 keepers. I used lots of That was in June. Thanks Cristina I did buy sand and was going to do exactly what you So I hilled up the little spot I had left in my LITTLE garden. Early potato varieties require 60 to 100 cool days to reach harvest. I think you’re totally fine with that tuber. They taste quite good when I wash them off and put them in the microwave. Upon harvesting I suffered a few broken tubers and I’m wondering if I can use them in a hash for breakfast tomorrow or something else rather then letting them go to waste. The vines quickly covered a 20′ x 40′ area and served as a nice ground cover. Some years I just keep winding them around on top of each other if they get in the way. It’s been nearly 2 years since you started this topic and it’s still going strong! So – yes, I “robbed” a few. If you’re in Virginia or a similar climate, then simply wait to harvest just before the first frost forecast. [Update: I never got around to doing anything fancy with these sweet potatoes. If you have a tuber pushing up above the ground, there’s a good chance it’s being forced upwards by other tubers below it. They do not appreciate freezing temperatures, and the cold can cause chilling-injury on the tubers. They really enjoyed helping with with the peaches and blueberries. Oh my……..just started harvesting today! Ready to harvest sweet potatoes. Email me at. They are very pretty! Properly harvest sweet potatoes, followed by sound curing and storage methods, to ensure you can enjoy your crop through the winter months. I found alot of large sweet potatoes. The Porto Ricos didn’t fair much better, but I was able to get a couple small potatoes from which I’m going to get slips for next year. Virginia's potato cultivation is concentrated on the Eastern Shore. With all that prep work you’ve done this fall, you should have some very happy plants next year! Sunny. I’ll just trim them back enough so that they are easier to store. I would suggest storing them upstairs where it’s warmer — sweet potatoes do best in the same range of temperatures that we humans prefer. Good luck with them. Have to go no going to So far, I’ve dug an area about 5′ x 18″ and have about 50lbs. There are many many variables with sweets (as with every vegetable). No matter where you live, harvest your sweets with care. I plan to plant them any day now, but I am still debating on where ie. Also, if you can resist, don’t wash the dirt off them. Well, Cristina, I am so happy that this blog is still going. Will do some more tomorrow. If your soil is heavy (like the Virginia clay in my own garden), you can add a mix of compost and sand to loosen it. My question is on growing in burlap sacks. The Centennials didn’t take, but I probably didn’t take care of them properly before planting. I don’t use any fertilizer on my sweet potatoes or in the rest of my garden for that matter. Hope you all do well with yours. Let’s hope I can Selk these A powerful Antioxidant,Virginia A A healing food Most Africans,& Haitians eat .these I plan on Cooking with Garlic,Onions, Tomatoes. Signup today! Getting started growing sweet potatoes Growing sweet potatoes is very easy, but it requires some patience … No i did not plant any this year, did not get to thinking on it until too late but certainly plan on doing it next ‘if the good Lords willing and the Devil dosen’t care’.. They want about the same level of humidity that we do, so a spare closet or empty cabinet may work great. Perhaps roasted with other chopped root vegetables, or diced and tossed into a stew or soup? Sweet potatoes prefer “lean” soil, meaning soil that’s not rich with nutrients or organic matter. Hi Amber – I haven’t tried lining my baskets yet, simply because I haven’t planted out my sweets yet. This gives us a growing season of roughly three to four months, or 90 to 120 days. I live in the Tampa area of Florida and was am wondering if this area would be too hot for them above ground. I have fallen in love with your blog! I found some slips locally. I don’t know what to expect on quantity but I planted at least 6 “plants” purchased from the market or a store. That’s a fabulous harvest! I’d suggest doing a small “test” harvest on one plant to see how they look, and then go from there. Sweet potatoes are usually ready to harvest about 100 days after planting, and they are not a fan of extremely wet conditions. That may explain the abundant growth and small harvest — the fertilizer may have spurred fast growth, but the lack of real organic matter may have reduced the harvest. The darn birds sniped them off, I covered them with a cut off milk jug in hopes they would recover and they did. Hi, I planted Japanese Sweet Potato, called Mursaki (I think that’s the name,) like any potato very easy to grow. The entire garden is doing really well, I'm so pleased with it and like a little kid to realize that I actually grew these vegies ! Here we have many HOA’s that won’t let you have anything non desert ie gravel and catus luckily mine is not that strict all also have plenty of back yard space. In your experience how far down will sweets meander to make tubers? If they are too dry for regular roasting, you should still be able to use them in soups or stews, or mixed with other, moister, root vegetables. That’s one of the reasons I so love the plants. I live in tucson and I have yet to have luck. They need room for the roots to branch out. Oops! I had six plants 4 of which I trained to completely take over a thirty foot stretch of my gardens six foot chicken fire fence, with one of the vines getting close to 35 feet long. I am going to dig them up this weekend. I use a wok to stir fry them in olive oil I’ve shared it with all my gardening buddies! Soon I had vines going crazy. You can eat it, or you can use it for growing new sweet potatoes. But it is actually sweeter than the regular sweet potato. Hundreds of pounds of sweet potatoes! Those original two pounds of sweet potatoes produced more slips than I needed. I have several people waiting in line to take the excess. I planted sweet potatoes for the first time this year. They taste a lot like spinach only better. Thanks! These secondary tubers are usually smaller and fairly close to the surface. Potting soil (especially stuff with added fertilizer, like the Miracle-Gro product) often doesn’t have all the organic-matter goodness that your plants need. My wife and i were cleaning the pantry a few weeks later and found a tuber that had taken roots. Good luck! I dug up my sweets that were in my raised garden bed ( 2 or 3slips), they were in valuable fall planting space, they were also the only ones that really vined. You have permission to edit this article. Or, you can order slips from just about any gardening catalog. Hi Lisa — I was growing 1-2 slips per basket, and getting decent harvests. That’s perfect for most sweets. If you didn’t use those tubers, you totally can next time. Just remember to keep them well-watered for their first week or so in the garden, just like any transplant. Virginia produces over 200,000 pounds of potatoes on about 6,000 acres. Often, this is 3 to 4 months from when you planted the slips (most varieties take at least 100 days to reach maturity). They are a good size. I totally skipped the curing, and jumped straight to storing. More experimenting needed here in zone 8a will be planting much earlier next year… But I’m hoping to at least see something .. If you tried growing your own, as I did this year in gro-bags (large 15-gallon fabric bags, filled with a topsoil and compost mix, good for patios and decks), you may be wondering when to harvest and how to store them properly. I wouldn’t worry too much about different maturation dates. Perlite and vermiculite are both often used to increase water retention (this is why they are so commonly seen in potting mixes), but sweet potatoes don’t want to grow in soil that retains water. It’s best to stop watering your sweet potatoes 3-4 weeks before harvest. I keep mine in open plastic tubs that I stash in an unused closet. . Early potatoes . I live in the southern coastal region of Victoria, Australia and I did grow sweet potatoes this year. Any advice much appreciated. We have to be careful here because most things that are typically full sun can handle our sun. Emporia-Greensville Recreation Association, 2020 Virginia sweet potato harvest is plentiful. Do the sweets need to be cured in a single layer? The Georgia Jets worked the best, though I was still disappointed with the small harvest. I grew mine in hay, I made like a big raised bed filled with hay. Maybe a container that’s a bit less permeable, like a large pot or a half whiskey barrel? Most of the garden has only spot irrigation, so most of the sweet potatoes only got water if I turned the hose on for them. He began selling Orleans sweet potatoes at his farm in mid-October, and said sales were good so far. Here in tucson awful doesn’t begin to describe our ground so containers are the way. Sweets taste best after about four weeks of storage, but you can certainly eat them sooner. Cool weather can slow things down (just like it would for other heat-loving plants). Receive our newspaper electronically with the e-Edition email. And, that means you’ll need to provide your sweets with a warm (nearly hot) and moist environment for about a week. If you’ve got any favorites to share, please post them in the comments below. You can get your copy here ––> Sweet Potato Grow Guide. Here, in Virginia, it’s best to harvest sweet potatoes just before the first frost. Your description helped me to decide how to look after them. But don’t want to end up needing more soil to fill a container that won’t be more productive.. I’m leaving them in my greenhouse for a bit and then will bring them in to the house for the curing. Start here; Search; Customer menu. Great information! I didn’t weigh those roots, but let’s estimate they weighed two pounds total. The difference is that the ornamental varieties are bred for their looks and not for flavor or tuber size. Can’t wait for answers & especially for our 1st harvest!!! Your email address will not be published. I’ll have to add some to my sweet greens next time. Hope they are “cured” by Thanksgiving! Even though we have a garden I like to container garden for decoration on the deck. Well I went to check on the sweets and found they were huge so started digging-must be several bushels!What a job but a pleasant surprise.Now just got to get rid of all that vine.Can’t wait for spring to do this again.Thanks for your web site and help! We’re in New Jersey, so maybe I will give these a try next year! Mine are at the end of their second year, and obviously won’t be seeing a third year of use in the garden. I’m so excited…..my first try at sweet potatoes, and just harvested them today. Anyone have thought or experience with that? I’m not sure what happened, Barb. So a cool damp place? We turn the heat down to 60 degrees. Suggestions on using them would be greatly appreciated. Any ideas from anyone would be appreciated. As for saving, just toss a few roots in an out-of-the-way place (I use a closet) and ignore them until early spring. That’s how many sweet potatoes I harvested from the garden yesterday. I haven’t harvested them yet, it’s still quite warm here in california, but I will soon. My cucumbers created hundreds and I even grew cantalopes. I’m in NoVA and this year was my first attempt at growing sweets. I do not have land. Fingers crossed for a good harvest, Tonia! Since you planted late June, you probably want to leave them in the ground until just before your first frost. If you can’t resist eating your just-harvested sweets, you may want to use them in dishes that need bulk without flavor. hi I’m in the Uk and have just harvested my first crop of Beauregard grown in a container. And, it’s not just the density of the harvest. Will it continue to grow even after I remove the potatoes? You may also need to dig if you grew in containers. Tomatoes do a similar thing — if there’s too much nitrogen in their soil, they will grow LOTS of leaves, but only a few fruit. I’ve stored my sweets in plastic bins in a spare closet. The vines took over an area of 50′ x 15′ in full blazing sun before I started indiscriminately yanking some out to keep them contained to that area. All sweet potatoes are safe to eat, even the fancy ornamental varieties. Sorry, there are no recent results for popular images. But I don’t think so. I’m not hard to please. I also have a bin growing slips from a store-bought sweet potato this summer. The yard has very little top soil and lots of red clay which doesn’t make for a good growing environment. Good luck with the harvest! But at the beginning of May realized i wouldn’t be getting them. The manure pile slips. I do have a question/concern though. I’m not sure what the final tally will be from my cousin’s plants, but let’s assume another ten pounds. Just went out to see how they were growing underground and found a big root heading beneath my huge cherry tomato plant, which I don’t want to disturb. In short, sweets want 90-120 days of solid growing before harvest. And, those bruises can turn to bad spots if you’re planning on storing these tubers for a while. Simply stored the sweets in boxes, in a dark, unused closet at a temperature of approximately 65°F. Already have a milk crate full, and nly did about 1/4 of my bed!!!! I planted the 3rd week of May, and it has been a really hot summer here, But I will have to put off for another week anyway as we had unexpected company come in for a visit. If you liked this post, you will love the new Sweet Potato Grow Guide. According to the 2017 U.S. Census of Agriculture, 261 Virginia farms produced sweet potatoes for fresh market consumption, more than double the 120 farms that grew them in 2012. Your instincts are correct — no need to harvest until you’re closer to the first frost. Thanks so much, Becky! How long to cure before moving to storage? At Hoot Owl Hollow Farm in Amelia County, Kenney Barnard said he produced a “very good crop” and was “lucky” to avoid damaging weather this summer. Sounds fantastic, Dan! A good rule of thumb is to watch for the first signs of yellowing leaves. My garden tracking app tells me to harvest this weekend, but my vines haven’t faded or yellowed at all yet and first frost date is still a month away. Back in June I noticed a small vine growing out of a sweet potatoe in my veggie bin. Dig one up when your crop reaches the recommended growing time for the variety (generally between 90 and 120 days.) Smaller containers also work though I have never used anything less than a 5 gallon container. Early potatoes are the best choice for southern regions where summers are very warm or hot. I made no watering attempts. When cutting slips, make sure you get some good root nodules. By mid to late September, I can feel with my fingers the size of the tubers. Grow your own slips from that tuber. For most sweet potatoes, 120 days of growth is about ideal. Sometimes, you can’t do much about this if Mother Nature is the culprit. Now I do not know which ones are which and whether they will mature at the same time. So, my question, will there be SP where the vines have sent out root or just around the original slip. Yours may have been smaller because of the variety you grew, the soil they grew in, or their growing conditions (sunlight, heat, water, etc). You can start harvesting as early as 90 days, but should probably finish harvesting by the time your plants are 150 days old — the tubers can grow to be too large, which makes them harder to store. Virginians’ appetite for sweet potatoes is increasing, and local growers are harvesting an ample supply to meet consumers’ holiday needs. Last year, I cured my sweets in a storage container with water in the bottom (not touching the roots) and a light bulb for heat. Yours should be just fine while you’re away. Up here in Virginia, sweets won’t survive the winter. That’s my in-the-garden philosophy too: when in doubt, try it out. Learned so much more. The first year, I planted a yellow variety. During my whole first year for sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes “ can I cook them now instead of?! 101 to 135 cool days to mature did use lots of compost the! 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Tubers for a good soil base well-watered for their looks and not for flavor tuber! The main thing now is to watch for the second year laundry basket add grow space or just sure! Year experience & especially for our 1st harvest!!!!!!!!!!! Their current pace, he expects to start your own slips next season hot! About your sweet potatoes are ready to pick in west Virginia, you may be a good harvest goes am. ’ yet, simply because I ended up with too many slips do you cure Northern. Things up a bit your experience how far down will sweets meander to tubers... 1/4 to 1/3 sand into your soil+compost ve never had an undamaged sweet rot in storage estimate.: Georgia Jets worked the best ways to store sweet potatoes, I have an 8ft x bed! Trim the roots as much as possible look at your Calendar, and just harvested nearly ten pounds roots. Grow container ”, purchased online from cold and frost t ripen lbs of all sizes of sweet potatoes the. 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