The sweet potato harvest is always a big event here at Happy Acres, and this year that was perhaps even more true than usual. Last year the sweet potatoes did not do well, which I attributed to a lack of rain while the roots were sizing up. The 24 slips I planted produced just over 40 pounds of sweet potatoes for an average of 1.74 pounds per plant. This year wes had ample rain, regularly spaced out in the summer months, so I had high hopes for the sweet potato yields. The vines grew long and lush, venturing out into the neighboring beds and vining up the cages I use to support peppers and tomatoes. When the digging was done, I was not disappointed, and I hauled 90 pounds of them into the house to cure.
I set out the same number of plants as last year, and the same varieties. This year the average yield per hill was 3.7 pounds, which is more than double last year’s yield and one of the best since I’ve been growing them here in this garden. The best performer this year was Murasaki, which is a Japanese variety with reddish purple skin and creamy white flesh. It has a nutty, sweet flavor and the flesh is drier than most sweet potatoes. It makes for a good all-purpose sweet potato, tasty when baked up whole or when turned into hash, oven fries or sweet potato chips. The 5 hills of Murasaki made a whopping 20 pounds, outperforming even the very productive Beauregard.
Speaking of Beauregard, this dependable variety produced over 18 pounds from 5 hills, which is also a great yield and better than usual. This variety has moist, orange flesh and is much like most of the sweet potatoes you would find in the grocery here in the U.S. We often bake these whole, or use them for a side dish like Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes. The sweet potatoes have tender skin right after digging, so I don’t clean off the soil until it’s time to cook them.
The second most productive variety this year was Bonita, which usually does well for me here. 3 hills made just a bit less than 12 pounds of roots, which was only a bit less yield than the Murasaki. Bonita has a pinkish tan skin and moist white flesh, and is one of my favorites for baking whole.
Korean Purple is another one of my dependable performers, and as the name suggests it has purple skin with a dry white flesh. It is truly one of my favorites for making hash, oven-baked fries and sweet potato chips. The sweet flesh crisps up well and caramelizes in the oven for a real taste treat. The 6 hills made just over 20 pounds of potatoes, which should keep us well supplied!
And last but never least, the purple skinned and purple fleshed Purple did quite well this year, with 6 hills making 19 pounds of potatoes. I’ve been growing it for several years now, after Norma (Garden To Wok) shared some planting stock with me. Its fairly dry flesh is great for the same uses as Korean Purple, and the two work well together in those dishes.
I will let the sweet potatoes cure in a warm place for several weeks before we begin eating them. The basement is the best place we have for curing, and I spread them out in a thin layer in cardboard boxes. As they cure, the skin toughens up and the starches convert to sugars. After curing, they will keep until next spring.
For more information about growing sweet potatoes try these sources: