Friday, May 22, 2015

A sweet potato experiment

That looks like a regular sweet potato bed, right?


Instead of loosening the ground and directly planting sweet potatoes, I tried an experiment this year with this bed, thanks to some inspiration from my friend Herrick and his amazing four-day carrots.

Beneath all those vines is a strip of black woven nursery fabric with holes burned into it just big enough for planting sweet potatoes. This stuff lasts for ten years and allows water to pass through without letting weeds pop up.

It should also keep those sweet potatoes from rooting all the way along their vines.

Why would I want to do this?

#1: Because I've read that you can get much larger potatoes by discouraging secondary rooting along the vines. I have noticed that the best roots are always where I first planted my starts - and that there are usually a few tiny ones further down the vines that aren't worth much.

#2: Because this keeps the weeds down. No more Bidens alba invading my sweet potato patch. When I cut off these vines and harvest the tubers at the end of the season, I'll have a nice, bare patch of weedless ground for my fall gardening.

I'll let you all know how it turns out.

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At May 22, 2015 at 5:53 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great looking sweet potato garden. I hope you get more than you can use!


At May 22, 2015 at 11:52 PM , Anonymous David the Good said...

Thank you.

At May 25, 2015 at 3:16 PM , Anonymous Andi | said...

Really, really curious about this experiment. I wasn't planning on growing sweet potatoes last year but I let them run amok and they rooted ALL OVER the forest garden. I thought I had dug them all up but apparently I missed about a dozen. A month or so again, sweet potatoe leaves started popping up all over the place. I gave a bunch to my neighbor, dug a bunch and made a new raised bed, and I'm just letting the rest grow to see what happens.

At May 27, 2015 at 12:22 PM , Blogger Cj said...

So very much on the verge of purchasing some of that stuff.... $125 is a lot of money to experiment with...

At May 27, 2015 at 8:37 PM , Anonymous David The Good said...

It is expensive. I just bought a roll of 12' from John Deere Landscaping and split the roll and the cost with a friend. Doesn't hurt as much that way.


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