Thursday, October 27, 2011

Manitoba Sweet Potato Harvest!

Harvest time for the sweet potatoes!  We've waited as long as we can, but with nights now regularly dipping below freezing, everything in the hoop house is finished.  Time for clean-up and close up!  The leaves of the sweet potatoes looked quite good until last Tuesday, when we had an overnight low of -11C (10 F).  The next morning the foliage was blackened and shrivelled.  Fingers crossed, we took the pitch fork and a bucket into the plastic house.  This started back in June, when we received cuttings, check it out here.

This is our second year trying to grow this 'impossible' crop but we hoped that this year, with the protection and extra heat of the high tunnel, and the extra care extended to the surrounding tomatoes, we'd fare a little better than last year!  Certainly, the foliage was much better this year, more lush, longer vines.  First couple of plants proved less than exciting:  three or four tubers about the size of Farmer Man's thumb.  Then, things started to get better: Four or five under each plant with one of a size comparable to what might be available in the stores!  Total harvest of seven pounds, with three tubers weighing in at a pound or a little less!  Waaaaay better than last years' harvest!  We started with a dozen cuttings, and lost one plant shortly after transplant.  Not bad!  The biggest, most unfortunately, we broke so we have to eat it - we'll let you know how it tastes.

Questions abound now: we should probably eat some, especially those that we broke or dinged.  Will we be able to save little ones for replanting or will they perish through the winter?  Should I take some root cuttings now to pot up?  Should we not eat the one perfect large one and save it for replanting?  Was this really worth it, seeing how we paid more for the cuttings than it would cost to buy three decent-sized sweet potatoes?  If we can save our own seed potatoes, does that make it more worthwhile?  And if we'd received the cuttings earlier (or had our own seed to plant early) would we get a better harvest?  And how the heck should we cook what may be our one and only feast of home-grown sweet potato?


  1. Questions questions questions (insert Jeopardy theme music here) -- looking forward to your answers!


  2. Yay! Congratulations on your first sweet potato harvest. I have a question, could you start a plant from the sweet potatoes you find in the store?

  3. This article is from 2011.

    I would love to grow sweet potatoes in my garden. Please let me know where your sweet potato experiment stands now.

    Is there any place in Brandon that sells the slips to plant?

    Thank you so much!

    1. We got our slips from Vesey's - they are hard to find in Canada. You could also start slips from store-bought - highly recommend trying to find organic sweet potatoes. We're not doing it again 'cause it was a lot of work for little harvest and we've got to have crops we can count on a bit more for our CSA families. They want a long growing season - so highly recommend a hoop house or tunnel of some sort! Good luck!

  4. I've never planted sweet potatoes (YET!) but I ordered a great book "Sweet Potatoes for the Home Garden with special techniques for northern gardeners" by Ken Allen. $20 S&H included.

    I wouldn't dare try sweet potatoes on a large scale but can't wait to try a homegrown sweet spud - maybe next year!