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Information and discussion for successfully cultivating potatoes, the world's fourth largest crop.

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Old September 15, 2021   #1
GoDawgs
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Default Sweet (Potato) Success This Year!

This year I tried growing sweet potatoes under a trellis made from a length of field fence and it worked like a charm. The vines were up and out of the way and by limiting the length of the vines, most of the plant's energy went into making tubers. The only worky part, which I didn't consider work, was the continual threading of vines onto and through the trellis as they don't have tendrils to climb like beans and cukes do.

The variety is "Jewel", a nematode resistant variety that Pickles bought at a Publix store back in 2016 and all the sweets since then have descended from that one potato!

Two days ago I cut the vines off the trellis.



This morning after taking down the trellis fencing we dug the potatoes.



The clumps of sweets around the slip were nicely sized this year, probably from keeping the length of the vines in check so most of the plants' energy could go into the tubers. There were also some smaller potatoes away from the main clump.



They dried a bit in the sun.



Then they got sorted by size and put in baskets. That’s when I weighed them. 53 pounds from 11 hills!



The next part of the process is curing them for 10-14 days. If you ate one of those sweets now they’d be bland and very starchy. Curing converts the starch to sugar so they’re nice and sweet. Sweets need 80-90 degrees and high humidity during the process and I don't have a temp/humidity controlled warehouse.
The process I use for small scale curing was found online and it works very well.

The baskets will go into black plastic trash bags with some holes ripped a little on the top. They will stay in the hot garden shed during the curing. It will easily be warm enough in there. The sweets give off moisture as they cure and the bag will keep a lot of that in to fulfill the humidity requirement. The holes will let out the excess moisture so the potatoes don’t rot.

For us, the trellis system is the way to go. It's a great space saver and has produced the best crop I've ever grown. And once the sweet potato ridge is made and the slips are planted, I think there's enough room down each side to grow something else in that bed too. We'll see next spring!
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Old September 16, 2021   #2
ScottinAtlanta
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You have stimulated my waning interest in sweet potatoes. Well done.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #3
JRinPA
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I didn't pull this year's sweet potatoes yet. But that looks great. Maybe I try that next year. Is that a soft net trellis?
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #4
GoDawgs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRinPA View Post
I didn't pull this year's sweet potatoes yet. But that looks great. Maybe I try that next year. Is that a soft net trellis?

No, that's field fence, the kind with the 6x6" mesh. I drive t-posts into the ground and then tie 8' poles to them for the height. A few brads driven into the poles at an angle let me hang up the fencing one high or two high and then I tie it to the posts with baling twine. This is a more clear photo of the two high:


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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #5
JRinPA
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Default Sweet potato disaster here!

Our plot at the comm garden was not successful. Well, box #1, the 9x5, was not. The 4x4 is still unchecked. I plan to dig it today.

The 9x5 had 1/2" hardware cloth tacked onto the bottom, and also about 15" high above the boards. A fortress impenetrable by voles.

YEAH RIGHT! The damage was biblical. May as well call that bed Jericho.

I think they climbed right up the vines. I found two current nests, 6 newborns and 5 with hair and eyes open. Two other nesting/bedding areas. The sweet potatoes were mostly split or eaten away.

I planted Lehigh potatoes in that same bed, as an afterthought, one foot along the long edge where the black plastic did not cover. Those did great and were only eaten a little. Those voles love their sweet potatoes.

I'm thinking next year, a setup like yours with a trellis, but maybe with fabric pots elevated. Maybe bench legs from EMT so they can't be climbed. It will be a pain to water, though.

Question - what makes sweet potatoes split? Too dry, then too wet, just uneven watering?
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #6
JRinPA
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That last pic, I count about 10 leaves per sections between posts. How many slips was that in each section?r
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