Grow Sweet Potatoes — Even in the North

This nutritious, easy-to-store crop is one of the best staples for anyone looking to be food self-sufficient.

| June/July 2011

  • large cut sweet potatoes
    Sweet potatoes are surprisingly easy to grow in different regions of North America and, if properly cured, they have quite a memorable flavor.
    PHOTO: FOTOLIA
  • green sweet potato vines
    As your plants grow, you can harvest and eat the tender sweet potato vine tips. 
    BRENNA LONG
  • cooked sweet potatoes with rosemary
    When fall arrives, take care to cure your sweet potatoes properly, and you’ll be blown away by their superb sweetness. 
    FOTOLIA
  • sweet potatoes with clear plastic mulch
    Attention Northerners: This inconspicuous clear plastic mulch is your key to growing great sweet potatoes. 
    KEN ALLAN
  • digging sweet potatoes
    Harvest time! Use a broadfork to easily dig your sweet potatoes in fall. 
    KEN ALLAN
  • Making a Sweet Potato Slip
    Making your own sweet potato slips is simple: Sprouts will grow from a tuber stood upright in a glass of water. 
    ISTOCKPHOTO
  • Kid Holding Huge Sweet Potato
    Holy sweet potato! Follow our tips, and you, too, could harvest potatoes that are as wide as a child. 
    NATE LUKE
  • Georgia Jet Sweet Potato Blossom
    A ‘Georgia Jet’ sweet potato blossom. If your ‘Georgia Jet’ is flowerless, you’ve been growing the Imposter! 
    KEN ALLAN

  • large cut sweet potatoes
  • green sweet potato vines
  • cooked sweet potatoes with rosemary
  • sweet potatoes with clear plastic mulch
  • digging sweet potatoes
  • Making a Sweet Potato Slip
  • Kid Holding Huge Sweet Potato
  • Georgia Jet Sweet Potato Blossom

An ideal staple crop for those seeking to meet most of their food needs with homegrown produce would be nutrient-dense, offer high yields, and have excellent flavor and storage qualities. A crop that fits this bill perfectly? The sweet potato.

Sweet potatoes are more nutritious and store better than any other root crop — they’re easy for home gardeners to keep for a full year. And while many people think of them as a Southern crop, you can in fact easily grow sweet potatoes in northern climates.

Unforgettable Flavor

I’ve been growing (in Canada!) and learning about sweet potatoes since the mid-1980s, when my friend, Suzanne Mason, who lives in South Carolina in the winter, brought me a half-bushel of cured sweet potatoes. They were incredibly sweet and delicious. I thought I knew sweet potatoes, but I never imagined they could be this good!

I wondered whether Suzanne’s grower in South Carolina had a secret. There must be a secret, or I wouldn’t have gone my entire life without coming across this superb flavor.



I now know that the matter is a bit more complicated than one simple secret. There are five facts about sweet potatoes that may seem like they’re secrets — because a sweet potato rarely makes the trip from field to dinner table without one or more of these facts being ignored — but none of them is optional if you want truly great sweet potatoes. Each ’tater truth by itself, if neglected, is sufficient to reduce flavor.

Five Facts for Fabulous Sweet Potatoes

1. Sweet potatoes are alive and they breathe. Never store them in a sealed plastic bag — the gases from their respiration will build up and the potatoes will eventually poison themselves. Paper bags or boxes are good for storage, or throw plastic tarps loosely over your crates of sweet potatoes. In fact, as long as you take care with the curing process (see fact No. 4) and store them at about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, you don’t need to cover sweet potatoes at all during storage (unless rodents could access them).

sweeteanniey
10/2/2017 9:31:24 PM

So..do you leave the clear plastic down the whole growing season?


sweeteanniey
10/2/2017 9:31:20 PM

So..do you leave the clear plastic down the whole growing season?


sweeteanniey
10/2/2017 9:31:16 PM

So..do you leave the clear plastic down the whole growing season?






Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters