Tuesday I bought 9 Beauregard sweet potato plants from a local store. I haven’t grown sweet potatoes in a very long time. This afternoon I started digging the bed for the plants. Sweet potatoes like a hot sunny place, so I decided to put them in a location that is already taken.
The plants in the spot that I picked are hundreds of double daylilies and a lot of peppermint. I dug all that up with a garden fork. I had a heaping wheelbarrow load of daylilies to take off. The mint I removed filled a laundry basket. Later I dried some of the mint. The rest went into the compost.
The bed ended up being 9 feet long and 8 feet across (or thereabouts, those figures are rounded out). Below is a picture of the dug bed.
After that I made three high ridges in the soil. The ridges are a traditional way to plant sweet potatoes. The piled up dirt allows the roots room to develop in those areas and perhaps the potatoes won’t be hard to dig up later. Believe me, digging potatoes of any kind is a hunt. I do not want to slice my produce by accident while trying to find them. So piling the dirt rather encourages that plant to put it there. That doesn’t mean the plant will cooperate.
At this point, a person can plant the sweet potato plants in the top of the ridges spaced at around 12-18 inches. Keep the area weeded until the vines shade out weeds.
Instead of planting at this point, I cover sweet potato beds with black plastic. This time I used black-lined clear plastic. This isn’t a plastic that can be bought, I lined it myself because I did not have a large sheet of black plastic, I used 4 black garbage bags. I use black plastic for its heat absorbing properties, to keep the weeds down, and to keep the ridges from being compacted from too much rain and from me trying to weed the area.
I placed the plastic over the bed and secured the edges. After that I planted the 9 plants, 3 per ridge. I slipped the water hose into some of the holes and watered the area just to get it damp. I’ll water the plants just until they are established. Sweet potatoes like hot dry weather and will not need much water. After all that, I tightened the plastic and secured the edges with brick. I don’t want much sag in the plastic. I want the furrows to be open to encourage the potatoes to develop in the furrows outside of the dirt as well as in the ridges.
Below is photo of finished sweet potato bed.
When I planted the sweet potatoes, I sprayed the plants and the hole with water mixed with liquid kelp that I buy from Gardens Alive. The little hand pump shown in the image is an invaluable tool for the small garden. I filled it 3 times today to spray the liquid kelp/water mixture on all of the plants in the garden as well as all of the other plants that I transplanted today.
Edited to add: Harvest sweet potatoes before the vines are damaged by frost. Carefully dig with a garden fork while trying not to damage the potatoes. Lay the sweet potatoes on the ground for a few hours to cure. Then cure them in an airy warm (85-90 F.) place for 10-15 days. After that, store sweet potatoes in an area that is around 50F. (but not less than 50F.) with moderately high (75-80%) humidity.