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Sweet potato

Ipomoea batatas

Soetpatat (Afr.)

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Sweet potatoes are oblong and have orange to brown skin with cream to yellow to orange flesh. It has excellent yields, vigorous vines and produces a couple of large roots in each bunch. Sweet potato is used as snack, meal and staple food in many countries, often called 'batata', kumara or yam.

Planning

Difficulty
Moderate
Flowering time
Summer
Fruiting time
Summer, Autumn

Harvesting

Tubers are ready to harvest 3-5 months after planting. Stop watering 3 weeks before harvesting to keep mature tubers from splitting. Greens can be harvested throughout the season with light cuttings. Dig up potatoes where the slip was originally planted.

Propagation

Cuttings
Take tip cuttings of about 30-40 cm long with approximately eight nodes. Cut away the lower leaves, as tearing these off may damage the nodes that will produce the roots. Plant cut end in the ground.
Tubers
Place slips 7.5 cm deep, spaced 30cm apart and rows should be about 0.9-1.2 m apart.

Special features

Crop rotation
Rotate with other groups of vegetables before replanting the same area with root crops again.
Wet sites
Tubors can grow in aquatic systems - roots will benefit from the nutrients from fish, clearing the water and the vine will quickly grow out to breath in air.
Attracts bees
Bees are attracted to the flowers.
Attracts butterflies
Butterflies are attracted to the flowers.

Geography

Origin
Southern America
Natural climate
Tropical

Environment

Light
Full Sun, Partial Sun
Soil moisture
Wet
Soil type
Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Acid
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Edible
The leaves, shoots and tubers are edible. Tubers can be boiled, roasted or cut into chips and the shoots and leaves can be cooked and used as a spinach or green vegetable substitute. High in Vitamins and minerals and effectively used as staple food.

Personality

Family
Convolvulaceae
Flower colour
White with mauve centre, White
Scent
None

Problems

Sweet potato can have Fusarium wilt, sweet potato flea beetle and the tubers can be affected by wireworms and nematodes.
Thrips
Thrips
Phlaeothripidae/Thripidae/Aeolothripidae

Companion plants

Companion plants that grow well near sweet potatoes include dill, thyme, beets and parsnips. Avoid planting squash near sweet potatoes because of a similar vine spreading growth.

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