Sweet Potato

Varieties of Sweet Potatos

BOTANICAL NAME:Ipomoea batatas
COMMON NAMES: Sweet Potato
FAMILY: Convolulaceae
ORIGIN: Central America or South America

This is a trailing vine, it is a vigorous grower with attractive lobed leaves and pink morning-glory type flowers. Sweet potatoes do well in both sandy and loamy soils with a pH of 5.2-6.7. The area should be frost-free for at least five months with warm days and nights. Planting sweet potatoes in a different area of the garden each year will reduce disease. Harvest when the tops turn yellow or before the plants are damaged by frost, as this can make them vulnerable to rot.

Food: young leaves and tips can be steamed as a spinach substitute, the tubers are delicious baked, made into soup, used as chips and added to curries.
Orchard groundcover: sweet potatoes can be a useful groundcover in frost-free permaculture orchards. However, if you live in an area with an abundance of wildlife this is unlikely to be successful as bandicoots, brush turkeys and wallabies will all eat them.

Recommended planting time: Wait for the beginning of the warm weather to plant. Tubers should have begun to sprout before planting. Planting too early into a cold, wet soil will cause them to rot.
Planting depth: Plant 7 cm deep.
Plant spacing: Plant the tubers or slips 20 cm apart.
Growing details: The tubers can be planted directly in the soil but it is better to produce sprouts or 'slips' that are then planted. To start your own slips, place the tubers on a raised bed or in a box in a warm, sheltered spot. Cover the tubers with 5 cm of damp sand and when the shoots are 15 cm long, they are cut from the parent plant and planted out immediately. Plants raised from tip cuttings generally store better and are relatively free of disease.

Tubers are ready to harvest when the vines die back in late autumn. Excavate carefully to avoid damaging the skin, start a fair way back from the leaf stem. Tubers can be stored for many months in a cool, dry place.