Eat greens all season, then harvest a tastey and nutritious tuber that stores well. What's not to love about this plant? And indeed, it's been a staple of many cultures for a long time.
Even from (organic!) store bought sweet potatoes, you can start slips (baby vines) to plant. Start 6 weeks before last frost: take one end of the sweet potato off, and suspend it in a glass of water with toothpicks or what have you. Keep the water level up, and the slips should start to grow. Once they are about 2-3", cut them off at the base, and put these tiny slips in water. They will start growing roots. Once they have a 2-3" root system, plant the slips in soil and let them establish. By now it should be warm enough out to transplant into your garden. Be aware they can sprawl quite impressively, so be sure to account for them in your layout!
- You must cure sweet potatoes or they will not have that delicious, sweet taste.
- Curing the potatoes allows a second skin to form over scratches and bruises that occur when digging up the potatoes.
- To cure, keep the roots in a warm place (about 80°F/27°C) at high humidity (about 90%) for 10 to 14 days. A table outside in a shady spot works well. For best curing, make sure that the potatoes are not touching one another.
- After curing, throw out any bruised potatoes, and then wrap each one in newspaper and pack them carefully in a wooden box or basket. Store the sweet potatoes in a root cellar, basement, or other place with a temperature of at least 55°F/13°C.
- If stored at a temperature range of 55–60°F (13–15.5°C) with high humidity, the tubers should last for about 6 months. When removing the potatoes from storage, remember to be gentle; do not dig around or else you will bruise the potatoes.
In 1930, the Ball Blue Book advised that “some of the best varieties for canning are the Nancy Hall, Triumph and Southern Queen.