How to grow sweet potato in Perth

Growing sweet potato in PerthI love growing sweet potatoes at home in Perth. Sweet potatoes are the tuberous roots of a beautiful creeping vine and look great in the garden. Sweet potatoes are a semitropical plant which grow best between 20 and 30°C making many parts of Western Australia the ideal place to grow. They have a much shorter growing season in temperate climates, but can still be grown successfully during the hot, Western Australian summers. A minimum frost-free growing season of four to six months is needed, with a minimum of cool, cloudy weather. Plant growth is restricted below 10°C and plants are physically damaged at 1°C. The sweet potato (Ipomea batatas) is a member of the morning glory or Convolvulaceae family. Contrary to popular belief it is not related to the common potato. Sweet potatoes are high in fibre and energy. They are also rich in sugar and vitamin C and contains good quantities of vitamin A, vitamin B, calcium and iron making them a heather option than potatoes. Planting sweet potato: The best time to plant sweet potato in Perth is around October when the soil temperature is warmer. It’s a long term crop and won’t be ready to be harvested until April. It is best to plant your sweet potato in full sun, but sweet potatoes can grow in more shaded areas too. You can grow your own slips. To do this allow a sweet potato to sprout by placing the narrow end down into a jar of water. You can use toothpicks poked into the potato to suspend it. Take cuttings of the shoots and place them into soil to root. Take care to keep the soil moist while they root. Alternatively, you can often buy sweet potato slips or plants from Bunnings or other nurseries here in Western Australia and plant them into your garden. Sweet potato varieties: Several different types of sweet potato are available in Western Australia. New varieties are being released regularly. Varieties with red, purple and orange skin and either orange or white flesh. I love the white-fleshed, purpled-skinned variety of sweet potato — it’s nutty and creamy and fantastic roasted in coals when camping. The orange-fleshed one is most common and it perfect for oven roasting or using in a soup like this recipe for roasted pumpkin and sweet potato soup. Care and common problems with sweet potatoes; Don’t overfeed your sweet potato plants with nitrogen. Just like with other root crops, too much nitrogen will result in beautiful vines and leaves, but under-developed tubers. Give them a balanced, organic feed every 8 weeks through the growing season. Compost tea or a balanced organic fertilizer are good options. Harvesting sweet potatoes: Harvest: 15 to 17 Weeks After Planting Pull the vines out of the way so that you can see the soil and then dig your sweet potatoes up using a garden fork. Be careful not to damage your tubers while harvesting them. Shake off the excess dirt but do not wash them. Storing sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes need to be cured to make them sweet and tasty. Leave them to stand in a warm, humid, well-ventilated spot for about a week before eating them or storing them. They should be not touching each other. The skins will naturally thicken up and heal over small scratches in order to protect the tuber. Harvested sweet potatoes store well for one to two months under ambient temperatures but need special treatment for longer storage. Notes: As a bonus, sweet potato leaves and shoots can be harvested and lightly steamed as a tasty and healthy green vegetable. Check out how to grow other vegetables in Perth:

Leave a comment