9 Reasons to Grow Sweet Potatoes This Summer!

9 Reasons to Grow Sweet Potatoes This Summer!

An article by Travis Key from Lazy Dog Farm

Continuing along with our theme of heat-loving vegetables that are great for the summer garden, next on the list are sweet potatoes. These versatile, nutritious, and hardy plants thrive in the heat, offering numerous benefits for both novice and experienced gardeners. Here’s why sweet potatoes should be a top choice for your summer garden:

1. Heat Tolerance

Sweet potatoes are a warm-weather crop that loves the heat. Originating from tropical climates, they flourish in temperatures above 90°F. Unlike many other vegetables that may wilt or suffer in intense summer heat, sweet potatoes thrive, making them an ideal choice for summer gardening. Their ability to withstand high temperatures and even dry conditions makes them a resilient addition to your garden.

2. Nutritional Powerhouse

Sweet potatoes are a nutritional powerhouse, packed with essential vitamins and minerals. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E, along with potassium, fiber, and antioxidants. The high beta-carotene content, which gives sweet potatoes their orange hue, is particularly beneficial for eye health and immune function. Growing your own sweet potatoes ensures a fresh, nutrient-rich supply of this superfood right from your backyard.

3. Easy to Grow

Sweet potatoes are relatively easy to grow, even for those new to gardening. They require well-drained soil, full sun, and consistent watering, especially during the initial stages of growth. Once established, sweet potato vines are quite hardy and can tolerate extended periods of drought. They are propagated from slips, which are shoots grown from a mature sweet potato. These slips are easy to plant and grow quickly, making the process straightforward and manageable. You can purchase sweet potato slips online or use sprouts that may form on older sweet potatoes that you purchased from a grocery store.

4. High Yield

One of the most rewarding aspects of growing sweet potatoes is the high yield. A single plant can produce multiple tubers, providing a substantial harvest. Depending on the variety and growing conditions, you can expect to harvest anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds of sweet potatoes per plant. This high productivity makes sweet potatoes a cost-effective crop, maximizing the use of garden space and effort.

5. Versatile in the Kitchen

Sweet potatoes are incredibly versatile in the kitchen, lending themselves to a wide range of culinary applications. They can be baked, boiled, roasted, mashed, or fried, making them a staple ingredient in many dishes. From sweet potato fries and casseroles to soups and desserts, the culinary possibilities are endless. Growing your own sweet potatoes ensures you have a fresh, homegrown supply to experiment with in your kitchen. You can also eat the sweet potato leaves as they grow, making them a great dual-purpose vegetable to have in the backyard garden!

6. Long Growing Season

Sweet potatoes have a relatively long growing season, typically requiring 90 to 120 days to mature. This extended period of growth means they occupy your garden space for the entire summer, making efficient use of the warm months. They do require consistent heat throughout the growth cycle, so caution should be taken for those in northern climates. You’ll want to plant sweet potatoes so that you can ensure the full growth cycle before temperatures start to cool in the fall. If you time the planting correctly, sweet potatoes are an excellent set-and-forget crop due to their low maintenance requirements.

7. Pest and Disease Resistance

Sweet potatoes are generally resistant to many common pests and diseases. While they can occasionally be affected by issues such as wireworms, nematodes, or fungal diseases, these problems are relatively rare compared to other crops. Practicing crop rotation and maintaining good garden hygiene can further minimize these risks. Try not to plant sweet potatoes in the same spot in your garden in consecutive years, and they should require minimal pest management.

8. Soil Improvement

Sweet potatoes can also play a role in improving soil health. Their extensive root system helps to break up compacted soil, improving aeration and drainage. Additionally, the vines cover the ground, reducing soil erosion and suppressing weeds. After harvesting sweet potatoes, the leftover organic matter can be composted or turned into the soil, enriching it with nutrients for future crops.

9. Storage and Shelf Life

Sweet potatoes have excellent storage qualities, making them a practical crop for home gardeners. Once harvested, they can be cured and stored in a cool, dry place for several months. This long shelf life allows you to enjoy your homegrown sweet potatoes well into the winter, providing a nutritious food source long after the growing season has ended.

It’s Time to Plant Some Sweet Potatoes!

Growing sweet potatoes in your backyard garden during the warm summer months offers numerous benefits. Their heat tolerance, nutritional value, ease of cultivation, high yield, culinary versatility, long growing season, pest resistance, soil improvement capabilities, and excellent storage qualities make them an ideal crop for summer gardening. Whether you are an experienced gardener or just a beginner, sweet potatoes can provide a rewarding and productive addition to your garden. Embrace the warmth of summer by planting sweet potatoes and enjoy the many advantages they bring to your garden and table.

Thousands of gardeners have been tuning in to The Lazy Dog Farm YouTube channel where Travis covers a variety topics ranging from how to successfully start seedlings to how to make a flavorful hot sauce that packs a punch. Accompanied by his wife Brooklyn and their two boys, the gardens on their 2 acre homestead in southwest Georgia are always filled with a wide variety of vegetables that are enjoyed fresh or preserved for later.

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