Harvest Monday, November 16, 2015 – Growing Sweet Potatoes In Container Update

Throughout the year I had made quite a few promises to post updates about my many garden ventures/experiments. Today’s post is  keeping one of the promises.

2015-1011_1138 IMG_3831sweet potato

Purple Sweet Potatoes grown in container from one (1) slip

Some of you may remember the photo below (the purple sweet potato slip I planted on April 18, 2015 in a container for my daughter, Kathy, and wrote about on 4/20/15. Click on link to read post).

growing purple sweet potato in container (07374)

A single Purple Sweet Potato slip planted on April 18, 2015 in a 6.87 gallon (26 liter) container .

April is way too early to plant sweet potatoes outdoors in the Northeast which means  bringing the container into my garage every night until around late-May when the nighttime temperature is warm enough and stabilized.

My daughter came for her plant around mid-May. All she had to do is give the sweet potato plant full sun, water, watch it grow and harvest before frost.

The photo below shows what that single sweet potato slip looked like on October 11, 2015  just prior to harvest.

Prior to harvest

Prior to harvest

Look at all those beautiful sweet potato leaves. It’s a shame my daughter did not harvest the leaves and cook them. (The 2 containers on the right rear are her fig trees, she picked 200+ figs from the 2 trees.)

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All that’s left after all the sweet potato vines were cut off.

Sweet potato plant was dumped out into the wheel barrow. Bump on the right caused the container to split open.

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Dumped out plant reveals a ton of roots.

Photo below shows what caused the bump.

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Sweet Potato peeking where the container split open.

Yep, there was a sweet potato tuber trying to escape. It grew and pushed and split the container.

Clearing away the soil & potatoes are revealed.

Clearing away the potting mix & sweet potatoes are revealed.

Large clump with the thick stem still attached

Large clump of sweet potatoes with the thick stem still attached

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Final harvest.

All of the sweet potatoes in the above photo are grown from the one potato slip.

Total harvest over 9 lbs, 5 ozs

All cleaned, weighed & ready for curing. Total harvest 9 lbs, 5 ozs

Freshly dug sweet potatoes are not sweet. They should be cured to turn their starches into sugar, curing also heals the cuts and nicks in the skin. Ideally, sweet potato should be cured at 80-85°F at 80-90% humidity for about 10 days.

Personally, I place my cleaned sweet potatoes in a newspaper lined container, cover container with a clean dish towel and place container in my utility room. Since I do not have the ideal environment, my sweet potatoes take longer to cure, 2-3 weeks. I do check occasionally and remove any that show signs of decay. Once cured I store them in the basement where the temperature is about 60°F.

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Two of the 4 large straight ones.

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This strangely shaped monster weighed 4 lbs 5 ounces.

What caused the above sweet potato to grow like that?

CONCLUSION: Growing sweet potatoes in container is doable.
You will need large straight-sided (prefer) container/tub
Fill container/tub with a good potting mix and/or compost. Add some peat moss as sweet potatoes prefer a low pH. Grows best with soil pH between 5.0 to 6.0.
Only one slip in each container. Give the plant full sun and do not allow soil to dry out.
Harvest before frost.

WONDERING: Since purple sweet potatoes is a short season variety (90 days) would planting the slip in May instead of April give the same result?

NOTE: My very organized and methodical daughter took all the photos (except the 2nd one) and made the notes.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Mondays

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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28 Responses to Harvest Monday, November 16, 2015 – Growing Sweet Potatoes In Container Update

  1. Sophie33 says:

    That is a big achievement, waw! And look at that cool pink color! This is the way to go. All of our small sweet potato harvest , there was nearly none. the small sweet potatoes were only 1 finger thick. i think there was not enough sunshine & full sun, to be honest. Maybe, I will grow them like you,in a container & can place them out on our full-sunschine entailed garden! 🙂

  2. I am so jealous!! Those red sweet potatoes are amazing!

  3. That is amazing Norma! And proof you can grow sweet potatoes in many areas if you give them the long, warm growing conditions they need. That fig harvest is impressive too.

  4. I never knew you had to cure sweet potatoes – so interesting and love that you can grow then in a container.
    Have a beautiful week Norma.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  5. ChgoJohn says:

    I cannot believe that you were able to harvest to many sweet potatoes from a single container. I also didn’t know that you needed to cure the tubers in order for them to become sweet. You never fail to teach me something, Norma. Thank you.

  6. Margaret says:

    Wow – that was a much better haul than I had! I’m definitely going to try again next year, however, and this time I WILL remember to keep the container well watered! How big was the tub that you used?

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Margaret,
      The tub is 6.87 gallons (26 liter), about 15 inches in diameter and about 12.5 inches tall. Did you plant a short season variety?

      • Margaret says:

        I have no idea, Norma – I used potatoes from the grocery store as we don’t have ready access to sweet potato seed unless we order huge quantities are pay a LOT for shipping. The one good thing is that they were locally grown, so I’m assuming that if the local farmers can grow them, so can I!

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Margaret,
        I agree, if the SP was locally grown then you should be able to grow them in your garden.

  7. Wow! I grew sweet potatoes in Florida once and didn’t check soon enough and they were the size of Volkswagens. That’s a wonderful bucket of sweet potatoes!

  8. Hi, Norma- What a great post! So cool to see the transformation from the single slip at the beginning of the season to the step-by-step harvest at the end– a beautiful demonstration of the concept of “yield”. Your descriptions and information are perfectly complemented by Kathy’s photos– great job to both of you! And no sign of chipmunk or voles chewing on those sweet potatoes!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Susan,
      Thanks, compliments from you means a lot to me I will forward your happy read comment to Kathy. It was a fun post to write. The advantage of growing crops in containers – no chipmunk or voles damage.

  9. Nancy Davis says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog on the sweet potato in a container. I have never tried it but would like to!! Thanks for the information on how you did it! Nancy

  10. Saskia (1=2) says:

    That’s really impressive Norma. Had no idea you could grow sweet potatoes in a container, and SO many from a single slip! Also didn’t know they needed to be cured first. Love that your daughter was involved in this post 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Saskia,
      I knew one could grow sweet potatoes in container but did not expect such an impressive harvest. Will be conducting more containers experiments in the future.

  11. hotlyspiced says:

    What a fantastic harvest from just one slip. I didn’t realise sweet potatoes needed to be cured. What do you do if you can’t get those 10 days of humidity happening? I also didn’t know they could be grown in a container! Great post – I’ve learned a lot xx

  12. Karen says:

    I didn’t know about curing the sweet potatoes but it makes sense. Apples have to turn from starch to sugar over a period of time to be sweet enough to pick.

  13. sue marquis bishop says:

    Very impressive Norma!

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