June 9, 2018

Sweet Potatoes Galore

Sweet potatoes grow well for us, so every year I plant as many as I can. I've found that two beds-worth will provide enough sweet potatoes for a year's supply for us and the goats.

For our first several years here I experimented with different varieties. We've tried Porto Rico, Beauregard, and Vardaman. I have to say that we've liked the Vardaman the best. They are good keepers with excellent flavor, and have pretty purple foliage. Plus they are a bush type, so they are space savers in the garden. For the last couple of years, however, I haven't been able to produce many slips. That has meant having to ration the harvest for special occasion meals.

I missed having the larger harvest, and especially being able to feed them to the goats. So this year I decided not to count on making my own slips. I decided to order some as well.

Nancy Hall sweet potato slips

Sow True Seed featured an offering of several heirloom varieties this year, so I decided to try one called Nancy Hall. Apparently this variety was very popular in the early 1900s, but after being replaced by commercial varieties became quite rare. I liked the write-up, so I ordered 36 slips.

Well, guess what!

Vardaman sweet potato slips

My Vardamans decided to put out more sprouts than they ever have! So I should have plenty of those too.

All my slips have been planted and are being diligently watered to give them a good start. If they get adequate rain this summer and the deer don't eat the vines, I should hopefully have a bountiful harvest and sweet potatoes galore!

Sweet Potatoes Galore © June 2018 by


  1. This raises so many questions. What size are your beds? What kind of soil do you have (mine is clay)? At roughly what latitude are you (I'm very slightly north of the 45th parallel)?

    I love sweet potatoes and currently believe I can't grow them, being on clay and so far north.

  2. I've got a bunch planted. They're grocery store bought (a couple years ago) so probably Beauregard. The roots that remain after harvest quietly over winter here in north central Florida and when it warms enough in the spring they start growing. I cut starts from them. We've had buckets of rain last couple months and there growing like crazy... Will be harvesting some soon. I bought a purple sweet from the grocery and starting a small bed of them for change of pace... Ive never grown enough, the goats, horse, dogs an me all love them! The 55# I got last year didn't last long...

  3. Paula - Have you tried to add gypsum to your clay soil? My dad used it for a garden we had that was a heavy clay. I then used in my garden. It really helps to loosen up the soil. Builder's sand (sand they use in a mortar) also helps.

  4. Paula - did a little research on which cultivators might work. This article might be of interest. http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/25/6/815.abstract

  5. For those of you way up north, don't let people tell you you *have* to grow Georgia Jet! They're just ok flavor and they tend to split if there's a drop more rain than they like. Sand Hill Preservation: https://www.sandhillpreservation.com/sweet-potato is THE sweet potato authority. They have every single kind and btw, according to them "we maintain 150 varieties and about 148 of them taste better than Beauregard". They also have an end-of-season half price collection and you can't plant them up here until now anyway. However, they have day jobs and some health issues this year and might stil be catching up. Read the disclaimer on the homepage. Also try Duck Creek Farm : http://www.duckcreekfarms.com/sweetpotato.shtml They also have a clearance special and short season varieties.

  6. Paula, in the past my beds have typically been 4 by 16 feet. I'm in growing zone 7b, which is probably more relevant than latitude, because I'm also in the foothills of the Appalachians. My soil is what is classified as cecil sandy loam, which is a sandy loam topsoil and red clay subsoil. My topsoil doesn't retain water well, which is a problem in during hot dry spells in summer. I do see you've gotten some good advice on growing sweet potatoes in your neck of the woods, so that will probably help more than guesses on my part!

    Annie, I've heard that sweet potatoes are actually perennials, but they would freeze out here so I always harvest them before first frost. Nice that you can store them in the ground over winter! Hopefully this year I'll get a large enough harvest to topdress the goats' feed with them.

    Judy, thanks for chiming in with all that good advice! I hope it helps Paula.

    Elizabeth, excellent information and thanks for the links!

  7. I have never tried them but have always thought about it. Item number 581 to add to the list.

  8. last year I attempted to grow russet potatoes in containers...where you start them and then add soil as they grow. they were doing very well for a while and then just stopped. I don't know what happened.
    this year I have some that grew in my compost pile, so I am just going to let them go and see what happens.
    I would love to grow some sweet potatoes also. I'm not going to have much time for a garden this summer though, so I don't think that I am going to put any money into it... just plant seeds that I already have and see what happens.

  9. I love sweet potatoes. Where did you order your Vardaman bush type from? Wonder if I could grow a pot of those in my little courtyard. Is the Nancy Hall a bush type also? Nancy

  10. TB, they are a very attractive plant, and of course tasty. Well worth moving up to item number 580!

    Renee, that's strange about your russets. I wonder what happened. We got a good white potato yield our first year but it's never been worth it after that. Sounds like you've got a lot of plans for your summer! Hopefully your seed stash will more than meet your needs.

    Nancy, I believe it's a vining sweet potato. Besides Vardamas, Porto Rico is also a bush variety. I believe Georgia Jets are also a bush type. I believe I originally bought my Vardaman slips from R.H.Shumay, but most places that sell them should carry them.

  11. I've never grown sweet potatoes but have eaten my share during my trips south. I would assume they would grow well up here and I think I have faint memories of my grandmother growing them in her garden.

  12. We moved in our house 3 years ago and the previous owner had two garden beds filled with sweet potatoes. I'm not sure of the varieties but there are at least two. Each fall I completely clear out the beds and the plants somehow come back each spring. Sweet potatoes are definitely the easiest crop in my garden.

  13. I personally feel that you can never have too many sweet potatoes! A few years ago, I would have told you we couldn't grow them well here. Now, it is feeling more like the south than the north!

  14. Thanks Judy! I'll check into both!

  15. Ed, you'd probably have to find varieties best suited for the north. But I'm sure they're out there! If nothing else, sweet potato pie makes them worth it. :)

    Cody, what a wonderful volunteer crop! I understand they are perennial in more tropical climates than mine.

    Susan, I agree! It's a matter of finding varieties that like one's particular climate. Considering there are 100s of varieties, it could be a lot of fun experimenting. :)

  16. I made sweet potato, fish cakes, recently. They were delicious with the home grown ginger grated in, with a splash of my chilli jam too. I really prefer sweet potato to grow in our climate. Although I will always have a bag of regular starch potatoes around. I like to throw a couple in with the sweet potatoes, to cook. Otherwise they can be too mushy, and sometimes too fibrous.

    I hope the new slips (and old) do well for you.

  17. Chris, that's a flavor combination I never would have thought of! It's interesting that you describe your sweet potatoes ad fibrous and mushy. Here we have hundreds of varieties to choose from, each with their own color, flavor, and texture. A favorite for everybody.

  18. Wonderful! Sweet potatoes are so pretty. We need to get ours in the ground very soon.


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