How To Grow Sweet Potatoes In A Container
A lack of acreage should never discourage you from growing your own vegetables. We know that we can grow some vegetables in hanging baskets on our deck, and that straw and hay bales make fantastic growing vessels for herbs, tomatoes, and other vegetables. But did you know you can also grow sweet potatoes in containers? Follow these steps and next fall you will be able to harvest your own crop for your favorite sweet potato recipes.
Pick the Proper Variety
Select a variety of sweet potato that is best suited for growing in containers. The bush-type Porto Rico produces good yields of medium-sized potatoes, which are great for baking. Sweet potatoes are known for their habit of sprawling, but this type has short and compact vines. Vardaman, named after a famous sweet potato town in Mississippi, is also ideal for its bush habit and reined in vines.
A Word of Caution
Sweet potato slips can be purchased from online garden sources, local garden centers or hardware stores. While tempting, it is not always a good idea to rely on sprouts grown from store-bought sweet potatoes. Many of the sweet potatoes have been treated to reduce sprouts, and you won't know the specific type of sweet potato you have purchased.
Choose the Right Container
As an experienced gardener, you know that all containers are not created equal. Containers created specifically for potatoes, such as this Garden Vegetable Grow Bag, are easy to work with and are quite inexpensive compared to plastic or ceramic. These bags are designed specifically to provide aeration to the roots, adequate drainage and even side pockets to sneak a small spud here and there. When your sweet potatoes are ready to harvest, you simply lift the bag and dump the contents into a wheelbarrow making the harvest extremely easy. The Grow Bags are reusable and can be stored away for the next season. You can also use other containers such as whiskey barrels or clay containers; just make sure they are wide and deep with adequate aeration and drainage.
Select the Right Spot
Sweet potatoes are ideal for growing in the South because they love to be warm at all times. After the threat of frost is gone, choose a spot for your container that gets full sun throughout the day. Sweet potatoes also like to remain moist, but don't like to sit in water. With a container garden, you are able to control the amount of water to prevent dehydration, and ensure proper drainage to prevent root rot.
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Use the Right Soil
Use a container mix amended with compost, sand and a fertilizer high in potash is ideal. Place about four inches of soil in your container, place your sweet potato slips on top, then add about three more inches of soil to secure them. As the stems grow upward, continue to add more of you soil mix until the level reaches the top of the container. Sweet potatoes are usually ready to harvest four to five months after planting.