How to Gather, Cure, and Store Sweet Potatoes

Growing Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potatoes made my short list of low-maintenance crops because they are practically a set-it-and-forget-it crop!


After the risk of frost has gone, plant sweet potato slips late in the spring, and harvest them in the early fall.

The sole reason to irrigate this crop is to prevent the soil from being bone dry, as it prefers hot and sunny conditions. Put differently, this crop works well in a water-conserving garden.

They also typically don't have any pests.

In case you haven't noticed, one of my all-time favorite crops is sweet potatoes!

Georgia Jet is a delicious, orange variety that grows well in a range of soil types and climates. It is one of my favorite varieties to plant.

Because sweet potato vines generate multiple large tubers at each root junction, they also yield well when trellised to grow vertically. In the conventional garden method,

Methods for Gathering Sweet Potatoes

Harvest whenever tubers begin to form; begin monitoring in late summer. I prefer to wait until the leaves begin to turn yellow, as this signifies that I've extracted the maximum amount of fruit from the vines I've planted.


But the secret to a better, sweeter flavor is to let them frost lightly and then pick them before a strong frost. Thus, you might want to wait a little while longer to plant them and monitor the weather.

I harvest my sweet potatoes using the following two-step procedure.

First Harvesting Step
Select a day when there hasn't been any rain for a few days. This will allow you to gently brush off the tubers because the soil will be very crumbly and barely moist.

Mud should not be deposited on the tubers as this will make them more difficult to clean and store.

In order to reach the earth, you must first chop back the vines to begin the harvesting procedure. It's simpler to follow the vines and locate the tubers when sweet potatoes are grown on a trellis.

Cut off the vines, leaving a sweet potato beacon of six-inch lengths above ground.As vines attempt to take root everywhere, they spread out throughout the ground and yield a large number of little potatoes.
Methods for Gathering Sweet Potatoes

Harvest whenever tubers begin to form; begin monitoring in late summer. I prefer to wait until the leaves begin to turn yellow, as this signifies that I've extracted the maximum amount of fruit from the vines I've planted.

But the secret to a better, sweeter flavor is to let them frost lightly and then pick them before a strong frost. Thus, you might want to wait a little while longer to plant them and monitor the weather.

I harvest my sweet potatoes using the following two-step procedure.

First Harvesting Step
Select a day when there hasn't been any rain for a few days. This will allow you to gently brush off the tubers because the soil will be very crumbly and barely moist.

Mud should not be deposited on the tubers as this will make them more difficult to clean and store.

In order to reach the earth, you must first chop back the vines to begin the harvesting procedure. It's simpler to follow the vines and locate the tubers when sweet potatoes are grown on a trellis.

Cut off the vines, leaving a sweet potato beacon of six-inch lengths above ground.
The Second Harvesting Step

This is a very careful step. The tubers' skin is extremely thin and prone to harm at this point. Push the dirt away gradually and carefully to uncover the harvest treat.

Next, excavate beneath the tuber to gently lift it out by loosening the dirt surrounding it. For this phase, I prefer to use my hori hori garden knife.

Would you want a garden knife? I still own the left-handed gardening tool that my gardening coach gave me. It is in excellent condition after over a decade! (And for right-handers, check out this excellent garden knife.)

When harvesting, avoid stabbing randomly into the earth with a spade, digging fork, or hori hori knife as you run the danger of severing the tubers in half. When you find one, don't remove it because the fragile jewels will surely break in half, burying the other half.

Whole, undamaged potatoes store better than tuber fragments.

Thus, locate a tuber with care, loosen, and lift. It is much easier to grow in loose soil, so think about planting yours in an elevated bed.

After gathering your tubers, you're presumably anticipating making a sweet potato casserole right away in the kitchen. Erroneous. πŸ™

Although waiting is difficult, the curing process makes them much more delicious.
How Sweet Potatoes Are Cure

Curing is an essential procedure that helps the skins harden for best preservation and sweetens the flavor. Take your time and don't rush the procedure!

Sweet potatoes need to be cured in two steps: the first takes roughly ten days, and the second takes about six weeks.

The First Step in Healing
In order to extend their storage life, sweet potatoes undergo this initial curing phase, which repairs any damage sustained upon harvest. In order to provide you sweeter tubers, it also starts the manufacture of sugar.

The ideal environment for this phase is a room that is 85 degrees and 85% humid. How come? You lack that, don't you?

I've been using this method for years: make a few holes in plastic grocery bags, then stuff each bag with one layer of tubers. Place the bags in your warmest, sunniest window, tied shut. A sort of greenhouse effect results from this.

Take a ten-day break.

If your windows are drafty and it is cold outside, cover them with a blanket or towel to keep them warm.

Open the plastic containers containing the curing tubers after ten days. They ought to be considerably tougher to the touch and damp. Any soft ones, compost them.

Although you can boil your sweet potatoes right now, taking the next step causes them to produce even more sugar and gets them ready for even longer storage.
When may I prepare sweet potatoes that I grew?

To boil tubers at their optimal sweetness, use the above-mentioned curing procedure for at least 10 days, and then for an extra 6 weeks.

So, harvest as early as possible in October if you want to serve sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving dinner. Although the frost-kissed sweetness may not be present, the curing procedure makes them sweeter.

Tips for Sweet Potato Storage
Once cured, they can be stored under the following optimal conditions for 6–8 months:

Mesh bags or breathable containers
Chilly, about 55Β° F. Darkness
about 60% relative humidity
The post-harvest environment determines the actual length of storage. Sweet potato harvesting, curing, and storage may seem difficult and time-consuming, but once you get the hang of it, it's actually rather easy.

All it takes to persuade oneself to cultivate these homegrown, delicious orange beauties that scream "Thanksgiving" is one taste!


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