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Growing sweet potatoes

After eating the sweet potato and veggie chili from this site, I have developed a new found love of sweet potatoes.  So I planted some this year, first time ever.

I feel kind of silly that I don't know this...but they grow underground, right?  If so, how do I know when to pick them?  I Googled around but couldn't find anything too helpful. 

Thanks for you help on this!  :)

We've got some in the ground, too (and some blue potatoes, can't wait).

Sweet potatoes do grow underground, however you may see part of one peeking through the soil at some point during the growing season.  Depending on the variety, they should be pulled from the soil 100-140 days after planting.  Usually, you can stick your fingers in the soil and feel around for a potato and can expose the area immediately around them to see how big they are.  Go ahead and pull that one up, because packing soil around it will only make it rot.  There will be a lot of potatoes per plant.  When we decide to pull everybody up, we'll use a pitch fork and carefully dig in the soil around the plant, get all of the soil loose and then pick through with our fingers.

Make sure you pull everything up before the first frost.  And the cool thing about sweet potatoes is, if you miss one or two in the soil, next year you'll be surprised with a plant.

Good luck with them, there's something really gratifying about pulling potatoes up from the earth.  I love it.

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Thanks, Nutdragon!  Ok, they have only been planted for about 60 days.  I was concerned because my tomatoes and green peppers were starting to yield.  But I've got a bit longer to wait.

If one plant yields many potatoes, do they freeze well? 

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Not really; I've had good luck freezing shreds and a mash (for soups and such), but not anything larger.  I got on a mission to see why you're not supposed to freeze potatoes a while back and did a lot of experimenting.  To make a long story short, there's too much water in them and when it freezes it screws with the integrity if the potato.  There's a thread on here about this from 100 years ago (OK, maybe last fall sometime); I'll look for it and post if I can find.

When you pull them up, put them in the sun for a day then move them to a warm (80 deg) shady place for a week to cure the skins.  If you do that, the potatoes will be fine for a few months.  So unless you've got a dozen plants, you'll probably be able to eat them in time.

There is a great book called The Vegetable Gardener's Bible by Edward C Smith that has guided us through every garden we've ever had.  Good luck!

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Thanks nutdragon,
I too am growing them for the first time this year...and from what you posted...I think I "ruined" a few by feeling them and trying to see how big they are. I planted mine in late march, but the freeze we had in early april might have slowed things down a bit. I think they have another few weeks to go....

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i despise waiting for the garden to grow. this year we're growing hot peppers, sweet peppers, basil, eggplant (i say aubergine), zucchini, spinach, romaine lettuce, some other type of lettuce, swiss chard, tomatoes, and one or two pumpkins came up from last year. maybe i'll have to send some to you guys.  ;)

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i despise waiting for the garden to grow. this year we're growing hot peppers, sweet peppers, basil, eggplant (i say aubergine), zucchini, spinach, romaine lettuce, some other type of lettuce, swiss chard, tomatoes, and one or two pumpkins came up from last year. maybe i'll have to send some to you guys.  ;)

I'll take some of all of the above, please!  ;D

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okay deuceO!!! i love to share!  ;D

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Thanks nutdragon,
I too am growing them for the first time this year...and from what you posted...I think I "ruined" a few by feeling them and trying to see how big they are. I planted mine in late march, but the freeze we had in early april might have slowed things down a bit. I think they have another few weeks to go....

You may be OK; the problem with sweet potatoes (and tubers in general) is until their skins have seen sunlight, they're very fragile, so if you accidentally nicked the flesh and then buried it back, you could have invited all sorts of baddies into the potato.  If you didn't nick it or if the bad guys don't find it, there won't be a problem.  Either way, unless something really bad happens, it would only mess with the potatoes that you exposed.

Since we're on the subject, I thought I'd show you guys our heirloom zucchini that I plucked this morning.

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aww, their so pretty! what are you going to make with them?

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aww, their so pretty! what are you going to make with them?

Thanks!  I don't know yet.  I made a bunch of curried zucchini soup yesterday with the batch that we get from our CSA, but these are too pretty to puree...  I was thinking about cutting one of them in wedges like an orange and doing something, perhaps bake it?  for a really cool presentation.  I need to figure something out.  I also have green beans coming out of my ears.  We had a bunch in our CSA box, plus I just realized that there are a bunch ready to be pulled from our garden.  and I'm supposed to pick up this weeks box tonight.  egads.

I love this time of year.
Happy gardening!

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Thanks, you too!  :)

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