Sweet potatoes are grown by planting slips, which are leafy shoots about 8-12” long that sprout from roots harvested the previous season. I have them in two boxy raised beds now (one of them is 2 feet by 4 feet, the other one is about 3 feet by 5 feet), but I have put them in the ground before. Use a trowel or shovel to open a space for planting and insert each slip into a hole so only the top 2 or 3 inches of stem and foliage are above ground. Youve been a great help getting back into gardening this year. Great to hear this, Steve. A 5-10-5 or similar fertilizer can be used at the rate of about 3 pounds for 100 square feet of soil area. In the spring, I plant corn one foot apart, and then in August after the corn harvest, I plant a potato at the base of each corn stalk — so, also one foot apart. To help increase their sweetness, place harvested sweet potatoes in a dark, warm room for at least two weeks before eating. Water often enough to keep the planting media moist but not soggy. Brush off loose dirt and leave them in the sun for a few hours, then move to a table or shed that is warm and has good air circulation. If you live in San Diego and only need a few slips you may be able to buy at City Farmer’s Nursery, 3110 Euclid Ave., San Diego CA 92105; phone 619-284-6358. Remembering during the right time to catch the right season. Did you have any success growing your potatoes? I’m going to follow some of the great suggestions stated in the article using Purple or “Blue” potatoes (type 2 diabetes thing). What ive learned this year is that consistent picking and consistent water seem to be the key to bountiful harvest. What follows are my personal notes on what I’ve learned about when and how to grow potatoes in Southern California, after having grown them for many years in different yards in the region. Many meals almost everything on the plate is from the garden, and that is an incredible good feeling. See my post, “Growing vegetables under fruit trees.”). However, once the plant foliage is significantly damaged by frost, the potato tubers aren’t going to grow any larger. Scatter it evenly over the surface of the bed and mix it into the soil 6-10 inches deep. Thomas Produce in Atwater, California to see their sweet potato harvest and packing operations, there were multiple sweet potato packinghouses located all within a few blocks of each other. One question – have you have better results here in zones 9/10 with a specific variety? Most nurseries in other states cannot ship slips to California because of pest quarantine regulations. Maybe for home gardeners it’s not as important as for farmers who grow acres of the same crop in the same location year after year after year. In 2017, the farm grew 4 varieties: Murasaki, Bonita, Covington and Diane. The seed potato with half-inch eyes just emerges faster, that’s all. Regarding the potato selection. No need to cut them up either, but if you do you get more plants from fewer seed potatoes. Notify me via e-mail if anyone answers my comment. what are your thoughts on using the bags vs ground? See how easy it is to grow delicious sweet potatoes with expert tips and guides. It’s about 3ft deep with soil, and the box is 4’x4’ (it has greenhouse attachments too) . Good to hear that you believe that it is ok, I was concerned about doing it again. )or vegetable (tomatoes, peas, peppers, squash) and many more crops - is ready to harvest in your local area, then this page is for you. Learn more: www.cdfa.ca.gov/healthysoilsweek #HealthySoilsWeek2020 #HSW2020 ... See MoreSee Less, Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Linked InShare by Email, Copyright - Master Gardener Association of San Diego County. (Sometimes, potato plants flower before their foliage begins to yellow.) Required fields are marked *. Mostly, I don’t do it because it’s more work, but also the plants seem more vigorous when they come from whole potatoes. Potato plants about two months after planting. Potatoes, on the other hand, can nearly grow without you paying attention, and harvesting them is fun like digging for treasure. I’ve been wanting to have a go at potatoes but have hesitated for two reasons – 1. At the beginning of each of my drip lines I have a shut-off valve so I can quit watering the whole row of potatoes once the plants are full sized and the leaves are starting to yellow. Also check out ... UC websites for the Vegetable Research and Information Center (http://vric.ucdavis.edu) and Integrated Pest Management (www.IPM.ucdavis.edu). What type of soil and fertiliser do you recommend? A slightly acidic soil (pH 5.5-6.5) will help suppress pox, a bacterial root disease. Cured roots can be stored in a dry, dark, well-ventilated space at about 60°F for up to several months. Water the bed before planting to moisten and settle the soil. It plagues my yard too. Instead of soil, you can always add compost or mulch too. When to Plant Sweet Potatoes. Compared to potatoes, most other staples can be laborious to get from the ground to your dinner plate. Fall Harvest. As your plants grow, you can harvest and eat the tender sweet potato vine tips. Some gardeners claim to have great success using this method. But yields don’t seem to suffer since the plants are big enough by then to cope with it. In other words, don’t keep it saturated. Gently lift each clump of roots from the soil and lay them on the surface in the sun for 2-3 hours until the skin is thoroughly dry. Learn more: www.cdfa.ca.gov/healthysoilsweek #healthysoilsweek2020 #hsw2020Learn with us during Healthy Soils Week, Nov. 30 – Dec. 4! I tried rooting a rose stem in a potato in soil in a cup (something I read somewhere and my son had given me a old rose that had scent). Storing cured sweet potatoes for 6-8 weeks will increase their sweetness. The sweet potato is a vining plant grown for its thick, starchy roots. Slips that have some roots when planted will produce fewer new roots which will result in a smaller number of large sweet potatoes. Later this summer I’m going to grow some potatoes in five-gallon pots just to re-experience it. I can relate to the gopher struggle. When to harvest sweet potatoes will depend on the cultivar that you purchased. Potatoes sure grow well when the soil has lots of compost so I would choose that, or a fertilizer that includes a lot of compost, to add to the container soil. For sure! This year ive been moving some things onto drip lines and have been using an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the watering of all the different plants. Water often enough to keep the soil around new slips moist, then gradually reduce irrigation frequency as the vines become established. The lesson is that for fall potatoes you need to get the plants going in August or early September so they have enough time to grow and mature tubers before a cold December night. I hope this helps. Who knew – I will look for yellow leaves in the fall. Immediately transplant the slips into a prepared bed. Remove all weeds when they are small. It is very hard to grow sweet potatoes in Europe. (photo courtesy of WikiCommons) By Hunter McBrayer Whether fried, baked, candied or in pies and casseroles, I love sweet potatoes. Young tender leaves can be used as a substitute for spinach or chard, in soups and stews, or stir fried as a vegetable. I started in small containers with sandy loamy soil then moved to a large on the ground planter with thick wire on the bottom. Had great enjoyment growing and eating my first potatoes. Potatoes, on the other hand, can nearly grow without you paying attention, and harvesting them is fun like digging for treasure. It’s easy to tell when tomatoes and peppers are ripe, but those hidden wonders developing under the ground don’t scream "harvest … At first, I wasn’t sure this would saturate a big enough area in my sandy loam soil, but it works just fine. I’m in Vista, on about 1/3 acre with a yard full of decomposed granite. That’s my sense, anyway. This is a good use for roots damaged during harvest. Thanks for the really informative article. Your email address will not be published. Raised beds are ideal for growing sweet potatoes because the soil drains better and warms faster in spring. The easiest way to cure roots is to carefully lay them (do not toss or drop) in nursery flats or shallow boxes. Over the course of the plants’ three to four months of life, it’s usually necessary to hill up a little dirt or mulch around the base because the potatoes develop there and you don’t want them to be exposed to the sun. If a portable heater, incandescent light bulb or other electrical device is used to heat an enclosed space, check the temperature with a thermometer and take precautions to prevent any flammable material from overheating and catching fire. Gophers are notorious in southern California and they seem to be able to smell potatoes a mile away. But coming from cold country we have always assumed potatoes don’t grow here. There are two types of sweet potatoes: one with yellow skin and dry, whitish flesh and a darker skinned potato with moist, sweet orange flesh. To side dress, scatter the fertilizer evenly along both sides of a row 6-8 inches from the plants (under a drip line or soaker hose if used for irrigation) then mix it into the surface soil and water well. The only difference is that in their early stages they need little water compared to when the plants are big and the tubers underground are growing. Or you can buy a potato at the grocery store, go home and stick it in the ground and thereby have turned it into a seed potato.). I live in Los Angeles and am also planting them in a 5-gallon container bag. I want to grow potatoes. And as you recommended, I will plant then even if they don’t have any eyes. To produce slips, select medium-sized roots that are well shaped, smooth and free of injury. Sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start to turn yellow. I’ve read that rotation is necessary. The plant grows best when the soil is warm (about 70°F) and the maximum day temperature is 85-95°F. I’ve also always been told to rotate, but I stopped deliberately rotating (potatoes and every other crop) a handful of years ago and I haven’t seen any difference. Learn with us during Healthy Soils Week, Nov. 30 – Dec. 4! Even better! A good rule of thumb is to watch for the first signs of yellowing leaves. This week will be full of virtual activities, at-home projects, and LIVE talks. I live in Redlands CA, and they don’t call it RED lands for nothing… very high in clay. Curing and storing freshly harvested sweet potatoes for 1-2 months will let some starch in the roots turn into sugar and improve their flavor. The skin on freshly dug sweet potatoes is very thin and easily bruised. I’ve had great success with red and white potatoes, but only moderate with russet. Susie, we have clay soil also. (What’s a “seed” potato? I just watched the Amazing Race, where they traveled through Peru, and it reminded me of how much I like to grow potatoes.