I am done with growing sweet potatoes in raised beds. Here is a very bad photograph to explain why.
The vague white-colored object at the bottom is one of my North Carolina White sweet potatoes, which formed below the level of the raised bed edge (about a foot down) and under it. I had to pry it out with a soil knife while keeping all the loose soil from falling back into the hole.
Today I was just digging a few sweet potatoes for dinner. It’s going to be some kind of fun getting the whole crop out. Oh well – my raised beds are falling apart anyway, so I might as well dismantle them while harvesting.
Here’s today’s bounty:
To the far left is one skinny All Purple sweet potato. As with NC White (which you can see just above it), the tubers form deep in the soil at the end of long roots, so I’ll really have to dig to find them. Luckily, my orange Ginseng sweet potatoes are of the type where the tubers cluster around the base of the plant, so I managed to snag a bunch of those pretty easily. Today’s advice: know the growing habits of your sweet potatoes before trying to plant them in raised beds. Long-rooted types: probably not such a great plan.
At the Derwood demo garden, we plant sweet potatoes inside an oval cage of hardware cloth, which is placed in a six-inch trench and then filled with loose soil to about 15 inches high. This protects the sweet potatoes from voles and mice. It also means that when the initial digging is done inside the cage (at the Harvest Festival, October 6!) we can remove the cage and explore the area thoroughly for stragglers. Surprise harvest: always nice, at least when it’s easy to find.
I’m glad to see I actually have sweet potatoes, since some critter got into my garden in August and ate all the vines, and I was worried the plants wouldn’t have the energy to form tubers. The vines have grown back now, so I’ll have sweet potato greens to harvest and cook as well.