Video: How to Harvest Sweet Potatoes

comments (3) September 9th, 2008

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Video Length: 2:41
Produced by: Danielle Sherry; Edited by: Cari Delahanty


Sweet potatoes take a long time to grow, so they're usually grown in warmer climates. But once you taste a fresh sweet potato, you'll want to grow them every year no matter where you live. Sweet potatoes need about 95 days to mature, but the longer you keep them in the ground, the bigger they'll get.

Make sure you dig them before your first frost date, because many grow just at the surface of the soil and frost can damage them. Stick your spade into the ground about 8 to 10 inches away from the main stem so you don't accidentally damage any potatoes.

Related article: How to Grow Sweet Potatoes


posted in: harvesting, sweet potatoes

Comments (3)

NianticGardener writes: Just dug my sweet potatoes on 13 Oct 2014 in Niantic, CT. We live in a zone 6a/6b area right along the coast. Farmer Joe, the producer of this video, is my gardening/farming mentor and he has been a great help to me--so thanks to you Joe! This year my sweet potato plot (4 x 45 foot raised bed under plastic with drip irrigation) yielded 9 full bushels of sweet potatoes--about 450 lbs.
My biggest advice to any gardeners growing sweets is to allow for the spread of the vines. The vines easily spread 10 feet each side of my four foot beds. I have learned to grow my onions in the rows next to my sweet potatoes. My onions get pulled sometime in mid to late July--which is just before the sweet potato vines start to really run. Harvesting the onions clears needed space for the vines without losing productivity in my garden.
"Freshfoodforthought" asks about disposal of vines. The vines are strong and dealing with them is the hardest part of harvest. I have tried pulling them or cutting them with a machete and hauling them off--but the technique I have settled on is to take my wheedwhacker/brushcutter with a metal blade and just slowly chop all the vines up right in the garden. I just let them compost right in garden--there is usually little residue by spring because they have been chopped up while still green. I then pull the plastic back and use a spading fork just as Farmer Joe discusses in his video.

For storage, I put them in a dry corner of my basement, against the wall--the temp stays between 50 and 60 degrees down there and I have had sound sweet potatoes even after a year. I cover my baskets with a dark plastic tarp. Check them regularly and give away your surplus and compost any that wither--the majority will store well until spring (about 6 months).
Posted: 12:24 pm on October 17th
farmerjo writes: I've been harvesting my sweet potatoes for many years and find that using a spading fork works better than a shovel. Accentuate the necessity of digging at least 10 inches away from the stem center of the sweet potato plant!!
Posted: 7:51 am on September 6th
freshfoodforthought writes: This is JUST what I needed to know! Thank you!! :)

When you dig up the sweet potatos, do you just go throw the vines out?

Looking forward to NEXT growing season, how do you save / start sweet potatos? I see where some people say they have them 'year round'.

So much to learn! much appreciation!
Posted: 4:20 pm on November 12th
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