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SWEET POTATO - CROPPING AND PROPAGATING

Many would know I like to grow my sweet potatoes in grow bags with a frame.

Frames encourage the runners to grow up to maximize leaf growth for food use. The bags keep the spuds in one neat place for easy cropping and I found I crop just as many this way as I would if I let the plant loose in the beds to take up lots of space. Turn around is usually 4mths from propagating by leaf cutting to cropping.

See the original Blog detailing my early trials growing this way HERE.

Due to being busy and a bit lazy it has been left quite a bit longer this time. Not sure how long, maybe 8mths possibly longer. Time flies.

Bit the bullet this morning before it got too hot and emptied all three bags and replanted. This is the result.

I grow three types of SP - purple/white, white/purple and purple/purple.

The purple/white plant was looking the rattiest. The soil level inside the bag had reduced substantially and I didn't expect good results. What a surprise I got!

The end result of cropping - a pile of plant material for propagation, the soil full of earthworms and a good crop of healthy tubers.

Replanting is as easy as emptying in a bag of composted horse poo (or any grow medium you fancy) and choosing some plant material for cuttings.

Replanted bag ready for a deep watering. I keep the cuttings consistently moist until they show signs of growth and then gradually ease back.

The white/purple had the most leaf growth and a lot less tuber than the ratty looking purple/white.

Some of the growth had escaped into surrounding soil and while retrieving the tubers I found a little nest of skink eggs which I carefully replace and buried again.

One of the white/purple tubers had grown down deep into hard soil and didn't want to come up without a fight.

End crop - the purple/white definitely wins out as the most productive.

UPDATE: 19.10.15 I've cut a few of the purple/purple and they are all white inside. Not sure how this has happened as I usually crop one bag at a time and use the plant to create new cuttings immediately. Perhaps they have regressed?

The purple colouring inside the white is very pale also.

Thank you to Jeff M for providing this link to a very good ANNETTE MCFARLANE article on growing SP.

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Comment by Lissa on March 7, 2016 at 18:36

Hey Sophie :)

I replant immediately. Not entirely sure what Annette is getting at. Ask her?

I've used something different for planting each each time. The Searles potting mix works well. Last time I used composted horse poo and it seems to have worked well also. Really need to crop. The last lot escaped their bags and have turned the back yard into a giant SP patch.

Comment by Sophie on March 7, 2016 at 6:44
Hi Lissa, love the post. When Annette says use an "established pot", what does that mean, that the content has had time to settle etc? If so, about how much time do you reckon you would leave the newly filled bag before putting in the tubers/cuttings? I'm filling some feedbags:)
Comment by Lissa on October 27, 2015 at 17:29

I need to move my Taro into a bigger version one day - I might have a chance of growing a useful amount then.

Comment by Lissa on October 27, 2015 at 17:23

Hey Christa. Yes, terracotta in plastic tubs of water with Water Chestnut, Samphire and Arrow Head growing in them and yes they work a treat. Not as good as a real bog but the best I can do for my dry yard.

Comment by Christa on October 27, 2015 at 9:29

In 1st sweet potato photo, Lissa, you have 2 pots in background.  Are they terracotta pots with plants sitting in another pot, with water in it?  If so, have they been successful and what would you plant in them. 

Comment by Lissa on October 19, 2015 at 5:55

Ate some roasted for dinner last night and to be honest I couldn't tell any difference in flavour between them. I did have seasoning sprinkled over the top.

I should steam some - might give a more obvious result re flavour but on the whole I don't think they taste all that different from each other.

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on October 18, 2015 at 16:41

Dang - our superseded aerial has just gone with the recycling!

Comment by Lissa on October 18, 2015 at 11:33

That's still quite a height to climb for something that normally (?) rambles along the ground.

Good photo. If Muriel comes on the site again I will direct her to have a look at your method.

Comment by Phil on October 18, 2015 at 8:48

Well I only have single storey so its not as tall as you might think. The photos below are from January this year. The SP got a lot more bushy and flowered from it's place on the aerial but unfortunately for some reason I didn't take a photo of this.

Comment by Lissa on October 18, 2015 at 5:34

Onto your roof! I generally poke any growing viney bits up into the frame to give it the right idea.

Things got away on me a bit this time around, hence the bits that got a hold on the surrounding soil. Amazing how they produce a good tuber in horrible hard packed ground.

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