Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More Food Forest Sweet Potatoes: Gainesville Edition

I posted last week on our wonderful success growing no-work sweet potatoes in our front yard food forest.

Two days ago I saw that my friend Andi reported similar success.

I like her idea of growing sweet potatoes as a ground cover one year, followed by squash the next. That would definitely help lower the pest problems on both crops.

Various worms and larva like to eat sweet potatoes, squash bugs and borers like to eat squash. The pests don't cross species. They also tend to overwinter in the same place. If they wake up after eating sweet potatoes one year to then discover the food is gone... they'll move on.

As a side note: good squash (like Seminole pumpkins or butternuts) and sweet potatoes taste quite similar and can even be used interchangeably in many recipes, meaning you're not really giving up much by switching.

Harvesting sweet potatoes is like digging for treasure.
Try growing some sweet potatoes in your food forest next year and let me know how you do. It's worked for me, it's worked for Andi, and I bet it'll work for you too.

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At November 19, 2014 at 8:44 AM , Blogger Ten at Eat Your Sands said...

hey, what do you think of this aeroponics bucket thing? I was thinking of asking my male to buy me the components to build a bucket for christmas.

At November 19, 2014 at 2:32 PM , Blogger David The Good said...

I hadn't seen that approach before - thanks for the link. I do have a friend who uses the Tower Garden aeroponics approach with great success.

At November 20, 2014 at 10:09 PM , Anonymous Andi said...

I did get a good harvest, but many of the sweet potatoes have small larvae in them. I read everything on the IFAS site about sweet potato pests. Everything. I wanted to know what all was burrowing into my sweet potatoes. I also read more about what real "crop rotation" is when you're trying to break pest cycles, and my yard is too small to do a meaningful rotation. The only option to break pest life cycles is to not grow that crop or any of the other plants that pest can live on/in. That means I have clear out all of the morning glory vines, too. It's a mess. I'm taking some of the larvae I found to an entomologist tomorrow to get a positive ID. Wish me luck.

At November 21, 2014 at 8:52 AM , Blogger Ginny Stibolt said...

Try growing your sweet potatoes in a straw bale to get them out of the soil.

At February 21, 2015 at 2:44 AM , Blogger Kayla Sosnow said...

Sweet potato pests like morning glory vines too?

At February 21, 2015 at 2:46 AM , Blogger Kayla Sosnow said...

David, I thought sweet potatoes were supposed to be perennial – plant them once and be done. Now we have to tear them all out and alternate annually with squash?

At February 21, 2015 at 11:12 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

They are perennial; however, your yields tend to be worse after the first year. In some spots I've let them grow as ground cover for multiple years... but my harvests there have been poor. The roots tend to get old, or gnawed, or termite-ridden.

At February 21, 2015 at 11:13 AM , Blogger David The Good said...

Same family, so likely yes.


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