Monday, October 27, 2014

CONTAINER GROWN SWEET POTATO HARVEST MONDAY


Every Monday, Daphne's Dandelions hosts "Harvest Monday" where bloggers can post their harvests.  Click her link above to see what others are harvesting and see below for what we harvested:


So last May, we PLANTED some sweet potato slips that we had ROOTED AND GROWN .  We used two large metal trashcans as containers.  After we saw how big they had gotten, we decided it was time to harvest them.  This is the one on the left side...


...and this is the one on the right side (photos on the original blog post).  For some reason, this one didn't grow as well as the other one.  Same watering schedule, same light, maybe just not as good a start to the slips?




The first thing I did was clip off all the trailing vines and toss them in the compost bin.  Then I dragged the very heavy cans over to the nearest unused raised beds.



I pulled up the vines on top of the can and immediately got a few.  Hopefully there would be more further down in the container...



...I dug out around this one and it was a beautiful, almost perfect sweet potato.  Side note, is there nothing more fun than digging for potatoes?  It's like buried treasure!



Do you know where these were?  Not in the cans...they were attached to the vines when I pulled them up from from ground!  Kind of like sweet potato carrots, ha. 



I flipped the cans into the empty raised beds and spread them out.  It was an easy way to do the sorting without making a mess in the yard or on the mulch.



One upside of the sorting method is lots of fresh and rich soil added to two of the empty raised beds.  That will be good for getting them ready for Winter sleep.
Container grown sweet potato harvesting
So above are the mostly odd shaped ones, and below are the five "best ones" that we pulled from the two containers.  We should still be able to eat the long thin ones, right?  Might be a new experience, LOL.  They must 'cure' of course, we have to do that first so that the starches turn to sugars.  

Harvesting sweet potatoes
SO...I have a few questions.  Since this was our first attempt, I will not rate it as epic fail, we did start with pretty much nothing but a couple of sprouts and gained almost 7 lbs so that's free sweet potatoes.  But my question is, what caused the odd, long shaped ones?  I'm thinking maybe the soil was too compact?  These almost perfect, "normal" shaped ones were in the upper portions of the two containers and then when I dumped them out completely the others were the oddly shaped potatoes, more like carrots. 

Is there a soil ratio recommendation?  A special combination?  Did we leave them in too long?  Not long enough?  Too much water?  Not enough deep watering?  It was successful enough that we'll definitely do it again next year but we just thought we might see what we could do differently next time around to get a better crop.

This week's vegetable harvest:  6 lb 13 oz
_________________________________

Total harvest YTD:  22 lb 9 oz

Happy Harvesting!



40 comments:

Wean said...

Did you know you can eat the leaves from those vines you binned ? this is a dual purpose vegetable. Check out You tube for recipes for sweet potato leaves.

Sue said...

I'll be watching for whatever "hints" you get regarding this. I live WAY up north and never get sweet taters bigger than a thread--no joke. Not a long enough (or hot enough) season. But--I'm going to try growing in containers next year and any ideas/tips will help. Compared to what I get out of my garden--your sweet potatoes are magnificent!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i don't know why they grew that way but i would love cooking with them. you can cut them like carrots and add them to soups and stews. cool!

Sandy said...

1st Man,

I love planting sweet potatoes and harvesting them to eat for months on end.

Your sweet potatoes are long and narrow because they need even moisture....not constant moisture. With constant moisture they can't grow through the deep clay soil. I would add all kinds of aged compost to help with the proper drainage for the potato roots the next time you plant.
We use tires with compost inside for growing potatoes.

Here's a site that may help you out regarding potato issues.
http://www.harvesttotable.com/2009/06/sweet_potato_growing_problems/

Mary Ann said...

Gosh, sweet potatoes are something I have never grown, and you will laugh... except at Thanksgiving, we never ate them. Only in the last few months have I learned to enjoy them at the dinner table, and find them so good!

Dave @ OurHappyAcres said...

I think those are great looking sweet taters! I've never grown them in containers so I can't add any info specific to that. I will say that I planted mine in rows and averaged 2 lbs per slip. And the size of the roots is all over the place too.

FionaG said...

This is very interesting and timely. I am currently trying to grow slips from a tuber sitting in a jar of water. It is the first time I have ever tried this and discovered the other day that what I thought were roots developing in the water were actually leaves. Oops, lesson one, getting the tuber the right way! Congrats on your first time, I would definitely call it a success.

Texas Rose said...

Congratulations on your first sweet potato harvest! They look great.
Which container yielded more?
I was wondering if those oddly-shaped ones that were growing outside the container could be due to the clay soil. Whatever shape they are, they’ll taste delicious!

Casa Mariposa said...

I grow sweet potatoes in containers, too, and I think your harvest is the norm. My spuds have been on my counter for a few weeks but will be curing soon. Your potatoes look great! But the best part will be eating them. I save mine for Thanksgiving. :o)

Myrna said...

Ok, how do I cure them? I just planted the vines for some green in my flower pots. Did dig out a few potatoes and thought I would just let the dry awhile and then eat them. Ours are skinny and funny looking also. Only one plant in each pot. Yours look great to me. I don't think they are really a Northern veggie, HaHa.

Margaret said...

I would say that your harvest was anything but a fail - lovely sweet potatoes! I'm thinking that I will try growing some next year - it will be a first for me too.

donna baker said...

Thank you for showing people that container gardening is easy and no weeding. Just put in as much compost and peat moss as your pocket book can afford. I used an old baby swimming pool I had to grow pumpkins. One of my friends grew lots of tomatoes in a bale of straw. I was shocked by that.

Practical Parsimony said...

The soil needs to be non-compacting, sandy for the sweet potatoes to grow uniformly. I think part of the packing is because the container is so deep. Try planting in 12" deep containers that are as large in diameter as you like. You will get larger and more uniform potatoes.

I may have missed this, but what variety did you plant?

This Friday, I plan to buy 80 lbs of sweet potatoes from the sweet potato farm for $20. I love them and cook about two dozen at a time. The 80 lbs will last me until next July. I lose so few that the $0.25/lb is affordable.

Colleen said...

Maybe your soil got too compacted. maybe mixing sand with peat moss may help in keeping your soil loose.

For those interested in how to cure sweet potatoes, I did find this link of which may help. http://www.andysgarden.com/documents/SweetPotatoes.pdf
Seeing your sweet potatoe crop is making me hungry for some sweet 0potato fries. Yum Yum.

Texas Rose said...

I LOVE sweet potato fries. I found this recipe for a possible use of part of your bounty. It was posted on the same day as this harvest post: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2014/10/sweet-potato-fries/

Janice said...

I'm in a cooler climate, my experiences may be slightly different than yours due to that one little fact. I have never attempted sweet potatoes in a container garden. One bad experience of yukon gold potatoes which rotted in a container garden intimidated me away. I plant sweet potatoes in hills. Usually 16 foot long rows and 2 feet wide. Mixing in straw will also keep the soil from compacting. It's not too late to mix any composting material in with your soil left over from this planting and allow it to compost wonderfully all winter long and be ready for another planting. I would certainly agree with the other comments that the soil became compacted.
All root vegetables need a nice soft, loose, deep soil to truly grow big and hardy. Carrots are a real accomplishment for me. I still eat the gnarly looking ones but, gloat about the purdy ones :)
Congrats! You grew your own food.

Daphne Gould said...

I get mongo sweet potatoes and small piddly sweet potatoes all from the same plant. I've never grown them in containers though and we live in the north, so things are different. Last year I had my Purple get really long and only 1.5" wide. This year they are fat but shorter. I haven't a clue what made them act differently. I did water more consistently this summer, but it might be something else.

Brenda said...

This was my first time planting sweet potatoes also. I grew mine in raised beds that look exactly like yours. Harvested some very large ones, along with some skinny ones, and my soil was definitely not compacted. Hubby says he'll just make chips with the skinny ones.
Next year I won't use a garden fork to dig them up...nicked one too many of them )))

The Compostshop Wormery said...

I think what you got was probably the 'norm' for home grown ones, we only ever see the big ones in the shops but who knows how many skinny gnarly ones the growers get as well, but can't sell. My harvest last year looked exactly the same, a couple of decent sized ones and lots of skinny ones. At least the skinny ones are quite easy to peal, made lots of lovely sweet potato and bacon soup with them. Mine were grown in home made garden compost, but I did find they dried out quite quickly, so maybe that is the key, more water!

1st Man said...

Dang, I didn't know that!!! Seriously? I will look up some recipes, for the NEXT time of course, ha. Thanks for the tip!

1st Man said...

well thank you....maybe it's just a climate thing. I do know they LOVE heat. In fact, these were sort of slow at first and I thought it wouldn't work, until it got unbearably hot and they went crazy. I think with some better soil we might get even better next time.

1st Man said...

They are curing now but you're right, we thought they might make a really unusual ingredient due to their shape and size. We'll post whatever we do with them.

1st Man said...

That was a great link, saved it as a favorite. Thank you! I used bagged soil since it was in a container so no clay. It still might have been the soil being to tight. That link says it should be a very loose soil. I like you idea of the aged compost. And watering might have been too frequent as well. Live and learn but I guess not too bad for the first time out.

1st Man said...

Oh my, aren't they good? We like them roasted in the oven with a little olive oil and salt/pepper. We also like them mashed. Very good too. Never too late, right?

1st Man said...

2 lbs per slip. Hmm, we had 4 slips (3 were really strong, one a bit weak) so I guess we were inline with that. Thank you for the comments! Much appreciated!

1st Man said...

Thanks! I had a post where we did our rooting. We tried something a bit different, just putting them sliced, in a pan of water about one inch deep. Not sure if it took longer, sure seemed to but then they finally started rooting and sprouting. Good luck on yours!!!

1st Man said...

Thanks!! The container with the more vines produced the most. There were some thin ones that popped out of the ground and the clay soil, but so did some in the containers. I guess even though it was bagged soil mixes it was still too heavy.

1st Man said...

Well that's good to know. Thanks!! Can't wait to eat them. We'll definitely post whatever we do. Thanks!!

1st Man said...

Curing, from what I've read up on, is to keep them in a warm place. It requires a warm and humid environment for a a couple of weeks. Ideally they say, it should be about 80 degrees or so. They LOVE heat, so it might not be a norther plant too much but hey, you never know!!

1st Man said...

Thank you!!! We think this was successful enough that we definitely want to do it again next year and do it better.

1st Man said...

Well, how nice you are! Thank YOU! I love container gardening, I think peat moss is a great idea to mix in. And compost of course. Pumpkins in one of those pools? That's a great idea!

1st Man said...

Thank you!!! I will check that out. I believe they were "Jewel" variety??

Wow, 80 lbs? For $20? Holy cow, that's a great deal!! Where do you store them until July?

1st Man said...

Thanks, I was wondering about sand. Sand and peat might be a good combo. Thanks for the link, great info there!!!

Yum, sweet potato fries are so good....

1st Man said...

Thank you for the link, I always like finding new recipes.

1st Man said...

Aww, thanks!!! Very nice of you to say. You know carrots are something I've never tried. I don't even think when my grandfather gardening he grew carrots. I will have to try that. I loved digging for the potatoes, I put pulling up carrots is fun too!!

1st Man said...

Plants are fickle things aren't they? And I bet the narrow ones taste just as good as the big ones huh? I realize container growing might limit me a bit but for now it's fun learning. Thanks for the info!!

1st Man said...

MMMM, chips!!! We may have an empty raised be or two next season, might have to try that. Thanks for the tip!! And yes, I know what you mean about nicking them. Did that a couple of times at first. ;-)

1st Man said...

Well, first of all, thanks for stopping by and commenting!! Glad to hear that we might have had the norm. Thanks for the tips will definitely keep that tin mind. And wow, sweet potato and bacon soup? Um yeah!!!!

Susu Sullivan said...

Is there a reason you did the method of filling the container with dirt and then planting them instead of the 'reverse' method of:
- place 6 inches of soil blend in container
- place sprouted potatoes
- top with about 6 inches more soil
- dampen soil
- as stems grow (before leaves develop too much) keep adding soil until they reach the top of the container

See what I mean? I cam across your planting post as I'm trying to find the best way possible to grow our sweet potatoes and this will be our first time too! The method I described above is something I saw others do with white potatoes, which we won't be planting. Thanks for doing this and posting about it, though, as it's very helpful information to start with!

1st Man said...

Hello! Thanks for stopping by. Everything I had read said sweet potatoes grow differently than potatoes. They are not from the same family as regular white potatoes. White potatoes have stems that put out roots and new leaves at the top. As dirt goes up and they get covered, the grow more buds that become potatoes. Sweet potatoes seem to grow down, putting out buds as the roots get longer and deeper. Potato plants can have their foliage covered up but the sweet potatoes (I believe) need to grow and spread. Now we have heavy clay soil in our ground so we had to use containers. We just plopped the "slips" in the soil and as they grow the just work their way down and make potatoes.

But you might do some googling to make sure, we chose that method because of the containers we used.

Good luck and please keep us posted. I'm thinking of starting some more this year but I have to get our regular raised beds set up. Might just put some in a raised bed and see what happens. be warned, they put out a BUNCH of vines and leaves. Pretty, but very prolific.

Thanks again!!