Thursday, May 31, 2007

I Yam What I Yam; I Yam a Sweet Potato!

One of the things I included on my 2007 Garden To Do List that I compiled in late February was to grow some "new vegetables and fruits that I haven't grown before." I have accomplished this by planting Blueberries, Horseradish and Sweet Potatoes.

I didn't start my own Sweet Potato slips, but I was able to find some "Beauregard" plants at the garden center.

Beauregard is the common orange flesh variety that we find at the grocery store. Some people call it the Louisiana Sweet Potato.

In researching how to plant sweet potatoes, I kept reading that you should plant them in high ridges 12 inches apart and in rows 3 feet apart. I plant in raised beds instead of rows. Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening doesn't mention sweet potatoes, but his principle would suggest that I could plant them 12 inches apart in all directions, so that is what I did.

I planted them in one of my 4 X 4 beds. I don't really know what their growth habit is so maybe this isn't enough space. I added sand to the bed when I planted them so the roots could have loose soil to grow in, and I think I should mulch this bed as well.

This is a new vegetable for me, so we'll see how it goes. Have you grown sweet potatoes before? I would love any advice that you are willing to share.

Oh yeah, one more thing brought on by my trying to be clever with the title - Is a Sweet Potato different from a Yam? When I research that question I get very conflicting answers. Some say they are distinctly different and some say they are the same but the term "yam" should be reserved for the orange fleshed sweet potatoes. What do you think? If you have a strong opinion either way, I'd love to hear from you. Maybe by harvest time, we can get this straightened out.



I've never grown any kinds of sweet potato before but I consider the orange ones to be more yam-like. I like to buy White Sweet Potatoes (that are more yellowish on the inside) so that's what I'd call a real sweet potato.

Good luck, sorry I can't offer any advice. I do have blueberry bushes though so if you have any questions about them, maybe I could help.

Central FLA Gardener

some advice on sweet potatoes...
1) lots of sand, they need very loose soil
2) mulching is a good idea
3) swt potatoes only produce where they root, which they will naturally every foot or so, as they grow. you can speed this up by digging a little groove in your soil under a vine, and covering the vine with the dirt from the groove, basically burying a small segment of the vine.
4) sweets take up as much room as you give them. they make a nice, low-maintenance ground cover. your spacing is a bit close, but as you'll see, it doesn't really matter -- they'll take over that bed in no time.
5) three months at least till harvest -- the ground will mound up when they're ready.


The Louisiana Sweet potatoes such as Beauregard are excellent. Just developed is an improved Louisiana potato called "Evangeline". It is very new , but gets rave reviews. They will be in my gargen come spring!!!!

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