Growing sweet potatoes

Lotte Faber on 09-07-2019

The hype of sweet potatoes is not over yet. In almost every restaurant you go, you will find sweet potatoes or even sweet potato fries. Sweet potatoes are not only tasty, but also one of the best carbs. So if you are on a healthy diet or if you just love sweet potato (fries), why don’t you start growing your own sweet potatoes? Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and contain a lot of minerals. There are so many ways to eat sweet potatoes, you will never have enough! 

Growing sweet potatoes in the UK

Growing sweet potatoes might cost a little time and effort, but you will get a lot of potatoes for it in return. Can you even grow sweet potatoes in the UK? Yes you can! Even though it is colder in the UK than in most of the original countries where sweet potatoes are grown, it is always possible. Normally sweet potatoes are grown in the soil itself, but if you want to grow sweet potatoes in the UK it is best to plant them in greenhouse borders, cloches or polytunnels. This way, the sweet potatoes can resist most of the cold. If you live in a milder area, you can also try to sow and grow them directly into the soil. If you decide to try this, make sure to cover them with fleece or plastic cloches! 

When to grow sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are very sensitive and can not handle frost. Hereby, it is best to plant sweet potatoes three to five weeks after the last frost. You can not start planting them directly after the last frost, you have to wait for the soil to warm up a little bit. You can also start growing sweet potatoes a bit earlier, this should be done indoors. If you want to start growing sweet potatoes indoors, the slips can be started 12 weeks before you have to move them to the garden. Slips are small pieces of the tuber which includes roots. You can cut the slips right off the sweet potato. 

Growing-sweet-potatoes-in-the-uk

How do sweet potatoes grow best? 

Sweet potatoes grow best in warm circumstances. The pH of the soil should be around 6.0. If you are growing sweet potatoes outside in the soil you have to use black polythene to make the soil warm enough. The soil should be covered with black polythene a few weeks before you start planting the sweet potatoes. 

Step-by-step plan for growing sweet potatoes in the UK

We know we have been giving you a lot of information about sweet potatoes. To make clear what you have to do to start growing sweet potatoes in your kitchen garden, follow these steps:

  1. A couple of weeks before planting the slips you should cover the ground with black garden plastic to warm the soil.
  2. Plant slips into the soil when there is no more chance of frost. You can buy slips online or in a garden centre or even make them on your own. 
  3. During the night, keep the sweet potato slips covered with garden fabric. 
  4. Do not fertilize the sweet potatoes.
  5. Let the sweet potatoes grow for at least 130 days. 
  6. Harvest after this period. Make sure to be careful when you are harvesting the sweet potatoes. 
  7. Let the sweet potatoes dry for a few hours and put them in a shallow box filled with old newspapers. Let them sit for around 13 days. 
  8. After this, you can start making your own sweet potato fries!

Growing sweet potatoes might be a little different than growing potatoes in general. You will need to keep the soil warmer and it will be easier if you live in the south of the UK, because the temperatures are higher in the south. Have fun with growing your own sweet potatoes!

 

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