Sweet potatoes are an easy crop to grow in containers, as long as you select a variety bred specifically for short season cultivation. Furthermore, once the weather warms and frost has passed, sweet potatoes can easily be harvested.
Location, Location, Location
Sweet potatoes require plenty of sunlight for optimal growth. That means placing them where they’ll get at least 6-8 hours of direct sun daily. Furthermore, make sure the soil has adequate moisture levels – test by sticking your finger into it up to the second knuckle; if dry, add water.
To achieve optimal results, plant your sweet potato tubers in either a container with drainage holes or through the ground in a raised bed. For best results, ensure the container is at least 12″ deep and 2 feet across per plant.
Compost and a balanced vegetable fertilizer can be beneficial to soil health, and testing the soil for nutrients is an excellent way to determine what your soil requires and plan your fertilization accordingly.
If you’re unsure of your soil’s N-P-K balance or if there are signs that something in your garden needs fixing, consulting with a local extension agency is recommended. They can perform a soil test and give an accurate estimation for how much fertilizer to add for each crop.
Sweet potatoes prefer well-draining soil that contains plenty of organic matter. Compost can be added to the ground prior to planting, not only improving its capacity to retain water but also providing extra nutrients for your plants.
When planting sweet potato vines, cover the soil with plastic mulch or another material that keeps it warm and moist. This prevents the vines from setting down too many roots which will take energy away from tuber formation and protects them against cold or damp weather.
Slips, Slips, Slips
When planting a new potato plant, you’ll need some sweet potato slips. These are the shoots that sprout from a tuber and form new potatoes; you can find these at most garden centers and nurseries.
Sweet potatoes can be sprouted in a jar with some water or using soilless potting media. Either way, keep the jar on a sunny window sill to see if any slips start to sprout. Once they do, you can separate them and plant them accordingly.
Finding the ideal sweet potato slips can be a simple but time-consuming task. This project is ideal for indoor gardeners or those with limited space to work in.
Depending on your location, it may be best to wait until fall before planting sweet potato crops. Many people choose to start their sweet potato crops inside and then transplant them outside when temperatures are suitable. Furthermore, some sources indicate that scurf – an infectious fungus disease – is sometimes an issue in certain areas, so make sure your plants use certified disease-free slips when setting them into the ground.