Here’s a video of our sweet potato harvest from a few years ago when we lived in Kentucky and sweet potatoes grew like weeds. Now, in our relatively cool Michigan summers, we have to coax them along … but they’re worth every bit of babying we can give them! 🙂
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes grow best in a sunny, hot location.
Form your garden row into a 10-inch-high ridge. We cover our ridges with black plastic because it not only keeps the soil warm which helps the sweet potatoes to grow, but it also keeps the weeds down.
Using a stick or something similar (I use a piece of rebar), poke a deep hole in the soil and place your sweet potato slip into the hole. For a couple days, water them well and protect from too much sun until they get established.
Now all you have to do is wait for harvest!
When Do I Harvest Sweet Potatoes?
Sweet potatoes can be dug as soon as they are big enough to eat. Be sure to dig them before the first frost as they are very sensitive to cold.
If you get an unexpected frost, cut the vines off at soil level first thing in the morning and dig your tubers within a day or two.
How to Harvest Sweet Potatoes
It’s best to dig sweet potatoes when the soil is dry.
Clip off vines with pruning clippers.
Using a pitchfork, a spading fork, or a shovel (a pitchfork works best for clay soil, a shovel for sandy, and a spading fork for in between), dig gently around the outside of the hill. Push dirt away and lift sweet potatoes out of the ground using hands or a tool.
Handle the sweet potatoes carefully as they bruise easily.
Any tubers that have been damaged should be used immediately after curing as they won’t keep as long as the others.
How to Cure Sweet Potatoes
All sweet potatoes should be cured before eating them since curing develops their natural sweetness and uncured sweet potatoes don’t taste very good. Curing also helps them to store well.
Gently brush off excess dirt. Do not wash sweet potatoes.
Handling them carefully, place dry tubers to cure in a warm, room with good ventilation out of direct sunlight for 10 to 14 days. A temperature of 85 degrees is perfect. Place them single layer if possible.
How to Store Sweet Potatoes
When the tubers have cured, transfer them to a cool, dry, well-ventilated storage area, like an unheated basement.
We store ours in these stackable crates because they allow for good air ventilation and are heavy duty enough to handle several pounds of sweet potatoes.
They should keep for 6 to 8 months in these conditions – so you can enjoy these luscious jewels all winter!
How to Eat Sweet Potatoes : )
Looking for some healthy sweet potato recipes? I gotcha covered.
Interested in Growing Your Own Sweet Potato Slips?
Several readers have emailed and asked why our sweet potatoes look different. We grow a variety called “Nancy Hall”. They’re lighter in color and smaller than many other varieties, but, when it comes to flavor, they are by far our favorite!
And a few asked what the white things in the background are. They’re row covers protecting our winter garden from the impending cold weather.