How to grow Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes, once reserved for warmer climates, are now finding their place in UK gardens with the emergence of hardier varieties. With a warm, sheltered spot and a bit of attention, growing sweet potatoes becomes a feasible endeavor, yielding a harvest of nutritious tubers to savor.

Planting Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are best grown from ‘slips’. These can be ordered from mail-order companies in spring. Upon arrival, plant slips in small pots, ensuring the compost remains consistently moist. Encourage rooting by covering the pots with a propagator until slips establish themselves.

Alternatively, you can grow a sweet potatoes from a shop bought sweet potato. Prepare them by removing any anti-sprouting agents through gentle cleaning. Place the tubers in sand within a propagator until shoots emerge. Once shoots reach approximately 3 inches in length, separate them from the tuber and pot them as you would slips.

Growing and care

For optimal growth, sweet potatoes thrive indoors within the controlled environment of a greenhouse or polytunnel. Transplant slips into large tubs or garden borders, ensuring ample space for root expansion. Maintain consistent watering and feed with a high-potassium fertilizer every couple of weeks to support robust growth.

If cultivating sweet potatoes outdoors, select a warm, sheltered location protected from frost to prevent damage to tender plants.

Harvesting

Sweet potatoes take around 4-5 months to grow in the UK climate. They are ready to harvest when the foliage starts to yellow. Exercise care during harvest to avoid bruising tubers, gently digging them up for immediate use. Unlike traditional potatoes, sweet potatoes don’t store well, so eat them soon after harvest for optimal freshness and flavor.