Huge Sweet Potatoes from Small Garden Plots

October 8, 2010

This summer Barb outlined a planned strategy for cultivating sweet potatoes in a limited growing area. Well the impressive returns are in as Barb recently harvested the the portion of her sweet potatoes that were planted in containers this summer.

Here is the follow up report detailing the success that she achieved while growing sweet potatoes in containers to compensate for the limited space available in her small backyard vegetable garden:

Potted Culture for Home Grown Sweet Potatoes

Hey, Kenny, Charlee, Debbie! I harvested the sweet potatoes from the pots this week. The pots have had new compost mixed in, and have been turned over to winter cabbages and broccolis.

Here goes: All pots were whiskey barrel sized, all had the same soil mix and sun. If you are putting pots on your deck or balcony, be sure you put them on roll-arounds to protect your decking material from mildew stains.

The smallest yield was from “Purple”, one nice root and three small ones. total weight was 1.25#

Mixed Results from Different Sweet Potato Varieties

Speckled Purple had the greatest yield, but the poorest quality. They tended to lie on the surface and split and one appears to have a hole into it. They were more round in shape, three large roots weighing from 1 to 3 pounds and three about half a pound each. Total yield was 8 pounds.

Korean Purple yielded the longest, biggest roots I have ever seen, two were 12 inches long and 9 inches in circumference. They grew straight down into the pot. Eight roots totaled 6.50 pounds, four were good sizes and four were fingerlings.

Covington yielded the prettiest and largest uniform roots. Four were one to one and a half pounders, one weighed a half pound, and there were six fingerings. They have a lovely deep reddish-purple skin and appear to have light colored flesh.

8633 had the most compact vines, wasting little on greenery and yielding the greatest number of usable roots. These 21 roots grew straight down into the pot and filled the pot clear down to the bottom. Two were over a pound; five averaged half a pound; six averaged a quarter pound each, and eight were usable fingerlings. I have a feeling that if I had watered this pot twice a day instead of once, they would have burst the pot. Total weight for 8633 was 6.75 pounds.

Lessons Learned for Cultivating Sweet Potatoes in Containers

I would recommend any of the last three… Korean Purple, Covington, and 8633, with 8633 winning for total production… for pot culture, if someone had limited garden space, a balcony or deck. They are attractive, vining plants suited to trellising, hanging over a railing, or spreading around the pot. The purple blossoms make lovely cut flowers, with new blooms opening daily over a period of more than a week.

The advantages of pot culture are that you damage no roots in harvesting and lose none to gophers. The leaves are edible but should be steamed or sauteed, so you also have a source of green vegetable throughout the growing season. The downside is they must be watered diligently, daily.

I have set a cutting in a smaller (3 gallon) pot which will come indoors to see if it will provide table greens over winter. The cut vines and fine roots are on the drying rack for winter fodder for the rabbits. Nothing gets wasted.

I will harvest the plants in the ground later on in the season and we can compare yields. As I said before, the pots needed to be cycled into the winter garden. Peace in the Garden, Barb.

Thanks so much for the update Barb. I’m looking forward to harvesting my sweet potatoes soon and hope that I see results as productive as your container grown vines!

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • I definitely need to plant sweet potatoes next year. They are one of my favorites.

  • I had my first ever harvest of sweets this year. I am inspired to try again after reading you’alls posts. I used a 30 gallon plastic container for some of mine, and grew them from my own slips. The results were promising, but with our bipolar weather in Minnesota this year I may have jumped the gun on harvesting them. i had literlly a few haf pound roots, the rest were fingerlings. The container sweetes did a little better imo than the ones sowed directly. I didn’t do covering though or mulch them in which probably contributed to the small yield. I am curioius to see if a larger container and more amendments to my compost mixture will yield more favorable results next year. Where can I find whisky barrels for a reasonable price?

  • Barb Keeler

    Quantina, I used plastic pots, whiskey-barrel sized, not actual whiskey barrel halves. Buy the biggest plastic pots you can find. They are muck lighter, so when it’s time to harvest, you can lift the whole pot and dump into the wheelbarrow. That saves to roots from bruising, and the soil is contained, can be refurbished with new compost, and dumped right back into the pot. Heat, not light hours, is the key to sweet potatoes, get them hot and keep them hot.

  • This is interesting- I have never seen sweet potatos planted in pots before

Previous post:

Next post: