The sweet potato, also called sweet potato, sweet potato or sweet potato, and with the scientific name Ipomoea batatas, is a tuber that belongs to the Convulvulaceae family, highly successful in its cultivation throughout the world due to its tuberous root or false tuber, edible and part very important part of the diet of a large number of countries and cultures. It is a plant that has its origin in America, and that today has a huge number of varieties, which are distinguished by the different colors of their meat and by having different nuances in their textures and flavors. It has been cultivated for more than 8,000 years, being a food of great value due to its high content of carbohydrates, as in the case of the potato, although the sweet potato is less caloric than this when it is roasted or cooked. Its flavor is also sweeter and it is a food rich in resistant starch.
If you want to learn more about sweet potato cultivation, join us in this EcologíaVerde article in which we explain how to plant sweet potatoes and more details.
When are sweet potatoes planted?
When sowing sweet potatoes, it is important to bear in mind that this plant does not tolerate low temperatures well: it needs at least 26ºC to grow properly, which is why, usually, in Mediterranean or temperate climates it is sown in spring. In this way, the sweet potato will grow during the warm monthsbeing ready for harvest between summer and fall, before cold temperatures damage them.
Thus, in the northern hemisphere it is usual to plant sweet potatoes from April to July, while it is done from October to January in the southern hemisphere. In tropical climate countries, on the other hand, it will be done when the dry season begins.
If you like sweet potatoes and other similar foods, such as potatoes or cassava, learn more about Tubers: what they are and examples by reading this other post.
How to plant potted sweet potatoes
The sweet potato can be planted in a pot without problems, as long as it is a container of about 50 cm deep and 60 cm wide if we want it to give a good amount of edible roots. If you only want to have your potted sweet potato decoratively, much smaller containers will suffice. Although it can be planted from seed, the most common is use a tuber, which is much more practical and, above all, faster. To get a good amount of sweet potato seedlings or cuttings that are used to multiply it easily, it is enough to advance between 3 and 5 weeks to the usual planting date. With all this in mind, follow these steps for potted sweet potato plants:
- Start by cutting each sweet potato in half and with the help of four toothpicks that you must stick around it, leave them in a glass, keeping only half of the tuber submerged. The cut area should face down, which is where the roots will appear.
- After this, leave the glass or container with the sweet potato in a warm area with at least 4 or 5 hours of light a day, replenishing the water that evaporates and changing it every 48 hours.
- Once the sprouts that emerge are between 10 and 15 cm, they are gently pulled to detach them from the tuber, and they are taken to a new container with water so that they can take root.
- After about a week, the shoots will have taken root, so the sweet potatoes can be transplanted to a pot or to their final location without any problems.
Sweet potato plant care
Now that you have the sweet potatoes planted and ready to grow, follow the basic care they need:
- The most important thing with the sweet potato plant is to provide it with a sufficient amount of light. The plant should grow full suneven in areas where it is intense.
- In return, you need frequent watering, especially in climates and especially hot months. It is best to water the plant every 48 hours or so in the summer, and every 72 hours the rest of the time.
- Regarding the soil, the sweet potato is not very demanding as far as nutrients are concerned, although it does need loose, well-drained soils. If you want your sweet potato plant to give a rich yield, however, you’ll need to give a good fertilizer supply to the earth, being especially suitable those of an organic and ecological type, such as earthworm humus, compost or guano. It will suffice to use a mixture of soil with peat, coconut fiber and earthworm humus in equal parts together with a good handful of vermiculite and perlite, and add more organic matter in the warm months as a fertilizer.
- At the end of winter and beginning of spring, the cutting of the plant can be prepared with the method described above. The harvest is done when the leaves of the aerial part turn yellow and dry.
How many sweet potatoes does a plant
The production of each plant depends largely on its specific conditions, being much more extensive, as is normal, in soil than in a pot.
Depending on the richness of the soil and the sun, with some 40 plants it is estimated that it can maintain production to maintain consumption of a family of 4 people throughout the year and be able to plant again in the following season.
Now that you have learned how to plant and grow sweet potatoes, you may be interested in learning about another typical food of the same time of year: pumpkins. Here we tell you when and how to plant pumpkins.
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