Harvest Monday, October 24, 2016 – Containers Sweet Potatoes: Okinawan & Ginseng Red

RAIN, finally.

Rained Friday and Saturday, on and off (mostly on) softly and steadily, not enough to end the drought but good enough to give the grounds a decent soaking. Lawn looks greener already, trees, shrubs and annuals are happy so are my veggies.

Harvested my container grown Okinawan sweet Potatoes.


Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

Got a total of 4½ pounds from 1 plant. It may not seem like much but for me it is a success. You see Okinawan SP is a late variety that requires 130-140 days to form edible tubers. In the Hudson Valley where I live we do not have that many growing days.

This actually is my 3rd attempt at growing Okinawan Sweet Potatoes. The first was July 2014 when I planted 2 slips in containers and all I harvested were a few pencil-size tubers. Last year I planted 2 slips in the garden mid-May and actually harvested a few good size tubers, 2 pounds total, click here and scroll down for photo.

This year I decided to grow the Okinawan SP in container and also start earlier to see if I will get a better yield. Planted 1 slip in a 15 gallons black (for better heat absorption, SP loves heat) plastic container late April. The container spent the days on my sunny driveway and the nights in the garage. This ritual continued until around mid-May when the weather was warm enough for the SP to remain outdoor (day and night) on the south side of the house where it received full sun.


Container Okinawan Sweet Potato plant just before harvest, 10/18/16.

After cutting away all the vines I dug around carefully and removed the loosened potting mix and fine roots. Surprise! I encountered the tuber in the photo below. Kept digging as the tuber was buried deep into the potting mix. Whew, glad I got it out in one piece. Check out the length of this baby (15 inches) in the first photo.


I then turned the container over and below is what appeared. Yes, more tubers, not as large as the one in the above photo but still good edible sizes.


Had to carefully untangle the roots so as not to break too many of the tubers.


Harvested a total of 4½ pounds. The tuber at the top weighed 2 pounds.

Next year I will again plant 1 slip in a container and also 1 maybe 2 in the garden for comparison.I will also choose a much deeper container and hopefully I will get straighter and less root tangled tubers.

I read that adding phosphate to the soil will increase the size and yield so am going to amend the soil with rock phosphate.

∗ ∗ ∗

Also experimented with growing Ginseng Red Sweet Potato in container. This is my first experience growing Ginseng Red SP so had no idea what to expect. And,

Thinking: Ginseng Red SP being a semi-bush plant would make a great ornamental plant in a container. The leaves are very attractive (edible also) and at the end of the season harvest the tubers for food, an all around winner.


Container Ginseng Red Sweet Potatoes just before harvest, 10/18/16.

Had one very large tuber, a few good size tubers and many pencil-sized tubers. Guessing those pencil-sized tubers would size up if the container was larger. Will repeat again next year using a larger container.


Container Ginseng Red Sweet Potatoes

Harvested a total of 3½ pounds from 1 slip. Tuber on the left weighed 1¾ pounds.

The photo below is also of Ginseng Red SP that was planted in the ground at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden. The tubers had more room to grow so were much larger and more uniform in size compared to my container grown tubers.


Ginseng Red Sweet Potatoes from Locust Grove

Next year I am going to again plant 1 slip in a larger container and 1, maybe more, in the ground for comparison.

Am curing both the Okinawan and Ginseng Red SP.

Understand the flavor of the Ginseng Red will improve if kept for 6 week. They will be a special treat at the Thanksgiving table.

∗ ∗ ∗

Goji Berries mystery solved.

The Goji shrub was full of unripened berries and I was so looking forward to a bountiful harvest of those red beauties. Then one day, while watering, noticed there were very few berries on the shrub, what happened? Couple days later when I approached the garden a flock of birds flew out of the Goji shrub, aha, birds, they were the thieves. Next year I will need to net the plant to save the berries.

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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 Monday

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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21 Responses to Harvest Monday, October 24, 2016 – Containers Sweet Potatoes: Okinawan & Ginseng Red

  1. You grow so many interesting things Norma. I need to get to a bigger nursery here to find something out of the ordinary to put in my veggie patch.
    Have a wonderful week.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  2. Angie@Angie's Recipes says:

    I don’t think I have ever seen or had a Okinawan sweet potato…are they floury or waxy? Sorry about your goji plant.

  3. Having tried to grow the Okinawa SP myself, I think your results are amazing! Mine planted in the ground didn’t do nearly that well, even with our long season. Too bad about the goji berries. I lost all our gooseberries this year to something, probably deer. I plan on netting them too.

  4. Margaret says:

    That’s an amazing harvest from one plant! I didn’t have as good a success with my sweet potatoes, but it was much better then the previous year (I think – haven’t done the proper comparison yet). Every year is a learning experience and I intend to give them another go next year, tweaking my methods. Great tip on the phosphate btw – I’ll have to remember that for next year.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Margaret,
      With sweet potato, I will only grow one plant in a container as the tubers need room to size up. Regular potatoes on the other hand I will grow 3 plants in the same size container,

  5. Hello Norma! Those are some really ornate potatoes. How fun they grew in these topsy turvy ways. Of course those little pesky birds stole your goji berries, that is a pity. I do hope that you have access to a good Asian market to get some during this winter. I love drinking Chinese date and goji berry tea, how about you? Take care

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Bam,
      Giving the SP a deeper container next year and hoping the tubers will grow straight. NYC Chinatown is only a 2 hours train ride away from where I live and I can get goji berries but only dried not fresh. Never made Chinese date and goji berry tea, do you have a recipe?

      • Glad to hear that you have a China town relatively close to where you live. Chinese date and goji berry tea is just as easy as it sounds. Boil water, about 6 dried Chinese dates, 1 heaping tablespoon of dried goji berries. Rinse once with hot water and pitch, like you do with all tea and then steep for about 5 minutes and enjoy. Sometimes I also add about 4-5 dried rose buds as well. Take care Norma!

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello Bam,
        Thanks, easy enough for me to do.

  6. Whenever I come on your blog I’m inspired to look for a garden where I could plant things. It sounds like an adventure. I think that I’ll look for a piece of land I could rent in Berlin for a small garden 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Marta,
      You do not need a piece of land to grow veggies, many crops can be grown successfully in containers in a sunny (even partially sunny) location. Send me a note if you have questions or need additional information.

  7. Lrong says:

    Very interesting shapes… 🙂

  8. ChgoJohn says:

    You continue to amaze, Norma. You have patience, which is a must when experimenting in the garden, and it shows. It will be interesting to see just how much larger the tubers are next year when you use a deeper container. As for the birds, it’s always something, isn’t it? If you conquer the bugs, the slugs, and squirrels, there are still the birds trying to steal as much of your harvest as possible. Makes it all a challenge and that much more rewarding when you do pick something.

  9. Traveller at heart says:

    Hi Norma,

    I have followed your blog for some months but I was a silent reader till now.

    Your sweet potatoes are a good size. Do you feed the sweet potatoe plants. If so, when and with what?

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello CLeong,
      Thanks for following by blog and for taking the time to leave a comment. Before planting my sweet potato slips I amend the soil with peat moss and cow manure. In the early stages of growth, I fertilize with fish emulsion fertilizer maybe once or twice and that’s it until harvest time.

  10. Sophie33 says:

    Your multiple sweet potato grows did go succesfully! Well done! Our crop,grew in a big container,…not much of succes because the earth was too thick. They were Yummy though!
    I just made my first E-Book, called Healthy Vegan Christmas. You can get it if you subscribe to my blog! Enjoy!

  11. KK Low says:

    Hi Norma, I read with great interest on your sweet potato harvest. I am wondering how do you cure the sweet potatoes given the outside temperature is cold where you live after the harvest. I am growing sweet potatoes for the first time in my garden, several purple kind, yet to harvest them. I live in East Central Iowa where the weather is quite similar to yours with short growing season. How late/cold do you wait before harvesting the tubers? I read that any temperature that’s below 50 deg will result in fungi and causes the tubers to rot during storage, not sure how true that is? Thanks!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello KK,
      Thanks for visiting. I harvest my sweet potatoes before the first frost, which is around mid-October. After carefully removing the soil, I place them in a newspaper-lined plastic bin then cover SP with clean kitchen towel, place bin with SP in my utility room to cure. One of my garden friend cure hers in her kitchen. Hope I helped. Write again if you have additional questions.

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