Unlike regular potatoes, which grow best when the soil is cool, sweet potatoes like it hot. They are tropical plants that are very sensitive to cold weather. In warm climates, many gardeners plant sweet potatoes about a month after the last spring frost, when both the air and soil are dependably warm. The plants produce lush vines that make a pretty ground cover, so they are a great crop for beds that adjoin areas that are difficult or tiresome to mow.
Quick Guide to Growing Sweet Potatoes
- Plant sweet potatoes in warm soil about a month after the last spring frost.
- Space sweet potato plants 12 to 18 inches apart in damp, loamy soil with a pH of 5.8 to 6.2.
- Before planting, improve your native soil by mixing in several inches of aged compost or other rich organic matter.
- Protect young potato plants from weeds by inspecting your garden bed often and gently removing any weeds by hand.
- To maximize your potato growing efforts, keep plants fed with a continuous-release plant food.
- Harvest sweet potatoes when the ends of the vines start to yellow.
- Before cooking, let unwashed sweet potatoes cure in a warm, well-ventilated area for 10 days.