Sweet Potato /Ipomoea Batatas/
Sweet potato is a hardy and productive perennial with long stems that scramble over the ground or twine into other plants for support. Where the stems lay along the soil they will root at the nodes and form multiple tubers.
The tubers are delicious and come in a wide variety of colours and textures.
Tubers are delicious in soups, roasted, steamed or fried as sweet potato chips.
Tender tips and young leaves are cooked as spinach.
Look out for different colour varieties as well as clumping varieties grown for their tender leaves.
Tropical and subtropics. Cooler climates should be frost-free for at least five months with warm days and nights.
An easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained, fertile soil.
Sunny or part shade position.
Plants tend towards woodiness and disease if grown in the same soil year after year so harvest the complete crop and rotate plantings to new soil yearly.
Plant in mounds and allow vine to climb a trellis for higher yields and for ease of harvest.
Plant 3-4 crops yearly, a month apart, from early Spring to ensure an ongoing supply of sweet potato. Leaving them in the ground for too long only invites the bandicoots.
Plant from stem cuttings in Spring once the soil has warmed up.
Cut a 20cm piece of stem and remove all the leaves except the small ones at the tip. Bury the cutting in the soil or a pot leaving the top with a couple of nodes above the soil. Space plants about 30cm apart and water well.
Sweet potato can also be propagated from ‘slips’ that shoot from the tubers.
Plant a tuber in a pot in Spring and wait until it shoots.
Multiple slips growing from the tuber are removed when about 10cm long and then planted out.
Risks and weed potential
Sweet potato is an invasive grower but does not have weed potential.
Harvesting & Processing
You can start removing young tubers of a good size from 4 months and mature tubers for storage when the tops turn yellow in Winter.
Tubers are lifted from the soil with a garden fork.
Avoid putting the fork through the tubers by digging a little away from the tuber and lifting.
Store unblemished tubers in a cool dark place secure from rats!