Sweet Extraction

Sometimes I feel like everything in my garden is an experiment.  Even if I have grown something before, I’m always tweaking the way that I do things and what should be a sure thing turns into an experiment.  Of course when you are growing something for the first time it’s all one big semi-educated guess.

That’s exactly what my sweet potatoes were this summer.

I followed some advice I had gotten from another AZ gardener and purchased some organic sweet potatoes from the store, cut them into pieces and placed them half submerged in water.  Most of them rotted and turned into a really foul smelling mess.  But about a third of them actually rooted and started forming shoots or slips.  I removed a couple of these and put them in water.  Some survived, others did not.  I ended up with three plants going in the ground, back in mid-April, early May… I think.  I probably should keep track of that better in the future.

In any case, I had seen some things poking out of the ground and some visible mounds in the soil, so this morning I went to check it out.


I began pulling up the vines and cutting them off, it took a while, there were a lot of them and they were LONG!  Some of them were probably in the 20 ft range.  Massive.  But once I cut them back enough I saw a couple of good areas like this where there was something just poking it’s way out.


So I pulled them up and then dug through the area, at first by hand, and then with a pitch fork.  I was REALLY pleased with the way my soil is looking.  Lots of great stuff going on down there!  I was really happy about that.

One plant yielded most of the sweet potatoes, which ended up being over 11 pounds by the time they were all extracted.  The largest one was 2 lbs 10 oz and a good shape.  We watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets the other night and a couple of the sweet potatoes made me think of this scene.  Fortunately none of mine squealed on me, that would have been… slightly disturbing.


I did notice that the areas that were heavily mulched seemed to prevent the sweet potato vines from rooting.  In those areas the vines were just vines.  In the areas were there was exposed dirt the vines tried to root in.  I actually got a couple of small potatoes from some of these spots, but not much.  I’ll have to think about how I will use that information next year.

I did take some video of the whole experience.  I might put that all together and add it later, but for now, that’s about it.  In all I would say it was a success!


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10 Responses to Sweet Extraction

  1. Congratulations! Up here in New England, when we plant them we have to cover them with a clear plastic in order to keep them warm enough. My daughter has rows full of them and is getting ready to dig them, put them in the hoop house to cure, and then bring in for winter enjoyment.

  2. Fagertun says:

    Thrilling to read about you growing sweet potatoes. It is definately not a vedgetable for my garden in Norway. I have to rely on my supermarket to get me some imported ones for my cooking…
    I do grow vedgetables myself though, but only the really tough ones 😉

    • Norway! Wow, that would be a drastically different climate than our desert. Sounds like you would be looking for exactly the opposite in a veggie than I am. I don’t have to worry too much about the cold. We do grow year round but we rarely go below freezing in even January.

  3. Well done. I’d love to grow sweet potato but I’m thinking the North of England may not be the optimum climate for them 🙂

  4. Tania says:

    I have no problem growing sweet potatoes here, but they definitely aren’t as big as yours! Maybe I don’t leave them in the ground long enough 🙂

  5. That’s a pretty impressive harvest!
    I got my mother to bring an orange sweet potato over from Australia when she came on holiday as the ones you get here are white, stringy and tasteless. I just left it lying around and slips started to grow – I’ve already planted one and am waiting for the rest to get bigger. I’m hoping to use it as a groundcover to help kill the grass in the beds (also to eat of course!). Hope mine are as successful as yours.

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