I’ve been growing sweet potatoes in my garden for as long as I can remember, and they are a dependable and productive crop for me. I’m also a big fan when it comes to eating them, and over the years I’ve found a good mix of varieties that are productive as well as tasty and useful in the kitchen. Today I want to share my review of the ones I grew in 2022. 2021 was a great year for them, and I harvested 90 pounds in total. This year I set out the same number of plants as last year, and the same varieties. But this time the yields were down, no doubt due to dry growing conditions this summer and fall. I did supply supplemental water, but apparently it wasn’t enough to make up for the lack of rain. I still managed to harvest 64 pounds from 5 varieties, which should keep us well supplied for months to come.
The three best performing varieties for me this year were Bonita, Korean Purple and Purple. Each produced around 2.8 pounds/plant. That’s down about 25% from last year, but still a decent yield. Bonita has a pinkish tan skin and moist white flesh, and is one of my favorites for baking whole. Last week I baked up one from the 2021 harvest and it was still sweet and moist.
Korean Purple is another one of my favorites in the kitchen, and it has purple skin with a dry white flesh. It usually makes a mix of large and small roots, and this year was no exception. It is a great choice for making hash, oven-baked fries or sweet potato chips. The dry, sweet flesh crisps up well and caramelizes nicely in the oven. I don’t generally clean the soil off any of the sweet potatoes until right before cooking, or at least until the tender skin has cured and toughened up a bit.
Purple is another variety with purple skin and dry flesh, but it has deep purple colored flesh. It also is prone to making long, slender and sometimes crooked roots. I’ve been growing it for several years now, after Norma (Garden To Wok) shared some planting stock with me. It is great for the same uses as Korean Purple, and the two work well together in many dishes. I got 16 pounds of roots from six hills this year.
The two underperforming varieties this year were Beauregard and Murasaki. I planted six hills of Beauregard and they yielded a bit less than 10 pounds, for an average of 1.6 pounds per hill. Last year I got 18 pounds from five hills, which is over twice the yield (3.7 pounds per hill). I can normally depend on Beauregard to give us lots of baking size roots, but this year we will likely use most of them cut up or sliced since they are fairly small. Beauregard does team up well with Korean Purple and Purple when sliced thin and baked in a cast iron skillet for Sweet Potatoes Anna. I also use it for my Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes dish, which we usually make for our Thanksgiving dinner.
The last variety I grew this year is Murasaki, which is a Japanese variety with reddish purple skin and creamy white flesh. It was the poorest performer this year, with the six hills yielding a bit more than 7 pounds. Last year it was the best performing variety, when I got 20 pounds from five hills. What a difference a year makes! Trader Joe’s used to sell it seasonally in fall, though I don’t know if they still do. It has a nutty, sweet flavor and the flesh is drier than most sweet potatoes, though still fairly moist. I am sure we will savor every one of these this year since the yields were so small.
I always 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:
Growing Sweet Potatoes in Missouri
Sweet Potato -University of Illinois
The Sweet Potato – Purdue University
Sweet Potato Growing Guide – Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
Grow Sweet Potatoes – Even In The North (Mother Earth News)
You have plenty to keep you going there. It’s interesting to see the different varieties.
There are a surprisingly large number of varieties Sue. Many of them don’t seem to do well in our garden though.
I grow sweet potatoes every year but I have an issue when I harvest. Many of my sweet potatoes are knarled/mis-shapened with many cracks and have a dark brown skin color to them. They do not show as yours did after harvest. Are they overripe and have I left them in the ground too long? If so how do I prevent this? Thanks.
Hi Pete, if your soil is heavy that could explain the roots not being straight. Also, I make a ridge of soil before planting and set out the slips in that. I also do not fertilize the bed, since I have found that makes for smaller, not bigger roots. I hope this helps! Please check out some of my resources I listed for more growing info.
Dave….ok I understand about the heavier soil causing the shapes to be wonky, but I’m more concerned about the dark skin color and cracking. Does that come from them being too ripe or exposed to the sun if they are near the top of the soil? Also I’m thinking about using raised beds next year. What are your thoughts on that?
I think raised beds are a great idea! The dark color could be due to scurf, a bacterial disease I had a few years back. Here’s a photo of what mine looked like: https://i0.wp.com/happyacres.blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/bonitasweetpotato15.jpg?ssl=1
The cracking could be caused by too much water as the roots are sizing up, and leaving them in the ground too long could be an issue. I usually let mine grow for 4 months from planting until digging.
Thanks Dave. By the way I very much enjoy reading your blog.