Back at the end of April, right after we got Beds #2 and 3 built, I purchased a dozen sweet potato slips from Strawberry Hill Farms. I hadn’t grown sweet potatoes before, so I was surprised when I was handed a bouquet of cut vines wrapped in a wet paper towel.
I planted the twelve slips in close quarters next to the onions because I wanted to maximize my yield per square foot of space. Soon the sweet potatoes took off and I had to say goodbye to the onions because the sweet potato vines completely covered them up. I tried to be diligent about picking up vines that were heading out of the bed and throwing them back inside to safety where they wouldn’t get run over by the lawn mower, but eventually they were so huge I had to just let them go.
Last weekend, as we were approaching our average fall frost date of October 15, I decided it would be a good time to pull up the sweets. I had gotten confused with regular potatoes and was thinking that a frost would damage the roots, but as it turns out Root Cellaring actually recommends letting the vines go through a frost because the sweet potatoes bulk up the most in their last few weeks of growth. Either way, no harm done, because as I soon found out, we had plenty of sweets to go around.
The twelve sweet potato slips yielded 25 pounds of sweet potatoes. Having never grown them before, to me this is a TON of sweet potatoes. A hill of sweet potatoes averages 2 pounds of marketable sweets, so this yield was right on. Hooray for successful sweet potato growing!
So I have 25 pounds of sweet potatoes. Now what? Root Cellaring recommends curing sweet potatoes for 10-14 days at 80-85F and 90% humidity to help the skins toughen and heal any cuts from harvesting. It’s been unseasonably warm recently, so I’ve just left the sweet potatoes to cure on old window screens on the front porch like I did with the garlic in the spring. I realize this is not ideal curing conditions, but it’s close enough for the amount of effort I’m able to commit right now.
Sweet potatoes can be wrapped individually in newspaper and then piled into baskets for storage. Ideal storage conditions are 50-60F and 80-85% humidity.
Last year I bought a bunch of sweet potatoes around November when they were cheap, wrapped them in newspaper or store flyers, and put them in the root cellar portion of our basement (which has yet to be turned into an actual root cellar, but I like to dream). The basement temperature drops to the 40s and 50s in the heart of winter and is generally pretty dry when it’s cold. So again, this isn’t textbook ideal storage conditions, but I had a whole pile of sweet potatoes stored for months and they did just fine. And actually, one did go bad, but because they were all wrapped separately it didn’t affect any of the other ones. So it’s a good storage system all around.
I’ve already used up 4-5 pounds, I’d guess, so I don’t think it’s going to take me as long to get through them as I might have thought. Any great sweet potato recipe suggestions?