I have been eyeing my rambunctious sweet potato vines in the family garden with trepidation all growing season. As you may recall I received the half dead-looking cuttings in mid-May. My wonderful son actually opened the box and did a very gardenerly thing-- promptly stuck them in water.
After a couple days I potted them up and stuck them under my grow lights, the temps still in that freezing range nearly every day. Then, before I could plant them, temperature shot into the upper 90s. I think I planted them June 2.
So today with temperatures hovering in the mid 50s for a week, lots of rain, it seems daily, and the ground temperatures creeping down, down, into what I know is that sudden decent into winter, on DAY 121; I dug our sweat potato crop.
I didn't expect much.
I planted Georgia Jet. I had to hunt to find them for purchase, and ended up getting them from Jung's.
I tried them with another gardener a year ago, and was not around when they were harvested and I don't think the other gardener left them for the requisite recommended 120 days. She reported they weren't much.
My goal was 50 pounds from the 15 slips we planted. Today, I harvested two heaping full 3-gallon pails. There were many tubers in each hill. They scratched easily, an errant fingernail easily leaving a mark, resulting in my decision to dry them dirty and wash later.
I only cut a couple in half with errant digging.
Rodents of some sort feasted on a couple closer to the grass edge of the row. I think there were some tuber they may have eaten entirely; a couple other where they hollowed out to the midline. The vines on the grass end were the heaviest, but did not produce the most tubers, although they did produce a couple of the biggest.
In a couple spots the vine anchored itself with auxiliary roots. I have read that allowing this to happen takes away from the main growing activity and should not be allowed. I'm not sure it made any difference in our yield. Some of these spots actually put out a decent sized tuber.
Yes, we had enough rain in June and July (although a dry August), and it was a hot summer here in central Wisconsin. It must have been prime sweet potato weather.
Laid out on a bench to dry, more than half the tubers are 4" long and over 1 1/2" in diameter. Over 20 tubers are probably each a pound alone! These are each as big as my fist (I wear a men's XL glove when gardening!) One of the tuber might weigh in a three pounds!
My sister-in-law and I are happy, happy, happy!
Now we will dry them a couple weeks, then rub off the dirt, sort them into long keepers or "use 'em up now". She wants to freeze some as baby food. I might make sweet potato pie or maybe an orange sweet potato marmalade, maybe a sweet potato-apple butter. Definitely some sweet potato fries...
I took cuttings to grow over the winter for slips for next spring.
Ain't it sweet?