I was supposed to plant my purple sweet potatoes in the middle of May, so they will have 4 very hot months to grow. But because we were visiting family in Israel at that time, I didn’t get the slips in the ground until the end of June. If you want to see how my first journey with sweet potatoes started, read this post.
So I tried to keep the potatoes in the ground as long as I could, but this past week, I felt it was time to harvest them.
The weather got much cooler, you can smell Fall in the air, and some of the leaves started to lose their color.
And, again, someone decided to munch on many of the leaves in one side of the bed.
Also, the vines started to flower.
I am not sure this is a bad thing. I should have researched more how to know when the right time to harvest sweet potatoes is, but time is hard to come by in here those days, so I went with my gut feeling; it was harvest time.
I also needed the real estate to plant the rest of my Winter Garden.
Harvesting Sweet Potatoes…
I started by pulling the vines…
I ended up with this pile. Of course I threw it in the compost, and guess what? My husband was telling me a couple of days later that the vines started rooting and growing in the compost pile! They just don’t want to die…
Anyway, this is how the bed looked like after I pulled all the vines.
I piled the straw to one side….
And started digging. At the beginning, I only found a few of those. Looking back now, I think those could have probably been a nice sized potatoes if they had more time to grow.
Those are the first real potatoes I found. I was so excited! Such an awesome color they have, don’t you think?
And this is my total harvest. I know it is not a lot, and I am sure that for the amount of slips I planted and the size of the bed, I should have gotten more. But for my first time growing sweet potatoes it’s not too bad.
This picture was taken a couple of days after the harvest. The potatoes’ color became a darker shade of purple.
Here is another one.
Then, a couple of days later, I was moving the soil in the same bed while sowing some new seeds, when I found this guy….
This one is the biggest one I’ve got! I was immediately thinking to myself that maybe I didnt do a very good job digging. Anyway, new seeds were already in so it was too late. I hope I didn’t miss any potatoes.
Here are the lessons I learned from this experience:
1. Start growing slips early. Sometimes things go wrong and the potato does not sprout. If I start early, I’ll have time to deal with problems better or just start another potato. Next year I am thinking to start at the beginning of February.
2. Don’t plant late. Sweet potatoes need 4 hot month to grow. Here in NC it gets pretty hot in the middle of May. I planted my potatoes too late and I think some of them could have been larger if they had more time in the ground. So I would say, for us here in NC those four month will be the middle of May to the middle of September.
3. Cover the crop with some kind of net. Apparently someone around here really likes the leaves. Maybe the squirrels or rabbits or the deer. Not sure.
4. I, on the other hand, did NOT like the taste of the leaves. In my first post, I mentioned hearing that you can eat the leaves of the sweet potatoes vines just like you would spinach. Well, I tried them and they were bitter and hard. So I don’t recommend it.
5. Lastly, dig well. Take your time and turn every inch of soil. You don’t want to miss any.
I can’t wait to taste them. I will now let them cure for two weeks and then try to cook a few.
We’ll see how sweet they are…
Anyone else harvested sweet potatoes this summer?