I thought I would try something new this year. I have grown potatoes above the ground in the past, but I don’t cook many potatoes anymore because I try to stick with the more complex carbs. So I thought I would try sweet potatoes this year. I didn’t want to put them in the ground, so I thought why not grow them in containers?
I bought one organic sweet potato, cut it in half and put in in some water on the window sill for a few weeks until it sprouted plantlets and roots. I actually had a bunch of plantlets but I only chose the 3 biggest ones, because I only had 3 containers. All you do is gently twist them off of the potato and put them in a glass of water to continue growing substantial roots. Once they look good and frost has past, plant them in the soil. I used organic container soil with organic amendments.
I know growing plants in containers reduces your yields quite a bit, but this was just a trial run to see how it would work out. If you grow them in the ground your plant can also root where the stem touches the ground creating another place for more sweet potatoes to grow! Unfortunately, in containers there’s not enough room for that.
I watered the plants regularly throughout the growing season.
As the plants grew, I kept an eye on the top layer of soil. When the top of a potato starts to poke through the soil you need to cover it to protect it from the sun.
Let the potatoes grow until the plant is killed by frost.
And here we are. These are my 3 containers with the frost killed plants. It was very cold last night. The time has finally come to harvest the sweet potatoes! It has been such a long wait. I hope I get at least a few…
Because I put them in containers I don’t have to dig them up reducing the chance of damaging the potatoes with tools or missing some in the ground. The down side of containers is that I may not get many sweet potatoes or they may be very small because of the limited room.
I turned the containers over in the empty raised bed and loosened the dirt to find the sweet potatoes. The leftover soil will be worked into the raised beds, so no waste!
Here are some sweet potatoes, not bad for a small container. The potatoes appear to grow in a cluster right below the plant.
Here are the potatoes from all 3 containers. There are more than I thought there would be! There are a few big ones and many smaller potatoes. I think it was a success!
As much as I would like to cook them up, they have to cure first to develop the sweetness they are known for. I let the sweet potatoes dry and wiped off the dirt. They say not to wash them yet. I put them in a box in a single layer and put them in a warm spot for a few days to dry and heal any cuts and breaks from the roots. Then they need to be moved to a cool place for the balance of the time.
They look like slugs.
Now, I just have to wait. That’s always the hardest part….
UPDATE: 12/22/15. It’s almost Christmas. I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to taste the sweet potatoes. I sauteed some in a light spray of avocado oil, added sea salt and cinnamon- making smashed sweet potatoes. They were delicious! Even better than store bought because I had the satisfaction of growing them myself.
“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce.” Jeremiah 28:5
7 thoughts on “Growing Organic Sweet Potatoes in Containers”
Would love to learn more about growing in containers.
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Thanks for the feedback, Tom. There’s so much you can grow in containers and it is great for limited spaces! I’ll try to write some more articles on it.
I really want to try this. From start to finish, it sounds like it takes a little over a year…would that be right?
Less than that. I started in early May sprouting the plantlets, and the sweet potatoes should be ready to start eating in December. Give it a try!
Oh, make sure your potato is organic so that it doesn’t have a sprouting inhibitor on it.
I’ve never done anything like this, so I apologize for all of my questions, but can this be started at any time of year?
I suppose it depends on your growing zone. Sweet potatoes don’t like the cold. So they wouldn’t do well in winter. I haven’t tried them inside or a greenhouse, they do need lots of sun. I started the plantlets on a window sill early enough so they were ready to transplant when the temperatures were past frost. (It takes a few weeks) Not sure if that answers your question.