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!