Sweet Potatoes: From Seed to Supper – A Comprehensive Guide

Table of Contents


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Looking to whip up some homemade sweet potato pies or fries? There’s nothing better than using your own freshly grown sweet potatoes straight from your garden! In this complete guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know to successfully grow, harvest, and store your very own sweet potatoes. Get ready to dig in!

Benefits of Growing Your Own Sweet potatoes

Benefits of Growing Sweet Potatoes at Home:

  • Fresh, organic produce
  • Cost savings compared to purchasing from the store
  • Greater control over quality of the crops
  • Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins A and C, fiber, and other nutrients
  • Can be used in a variety of recipes, from sweet potato fries to casseroles
  • Growing sweet potato vines can be an ornamental addition to your home decor
  • Can be grown in containers, making them great for small spaces
  • Growing your own food can be a satisfying and rewarding hobby

General Information About Sweet potatoes

Plant Family: Morning glory family (Convolvulaceae)
Plant Latin Name: Ipomoea batatas

Plant Variations Available

Sweet potatoes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors depending on the cultivar. They are usually classified into two main types: firm and soft. The firm type, also known as the dry type, has a pale yellow or white flesh and a dry, mealy texture. The soft type, also known as the moist type, has a reddish-orange or purple flesh and a moist, sweet texture.


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Some popular cultivars of sweet potatoes include the Beauregard, Covington, and Jewel varieties. Beauregard sweet potatoes are a popular choice for their low sugar content and deep orange flesh, while Covington sweet potatoes are known for their excellent texture and taste. Jewel sweet potatoes are another popular variety known for their sweet flavor.

Additionally, sweet potatoes can vary in size. They can range from small, finger-sized sweet potatoes to large, bulky ones the size of a human arm. Some sweet potatoes are elongated while others are more round or oblong.

Overall, sweet potatoes are a versatile and delicious vegetable with many different variations. They can be baked, mashed, roasted, or fried, and provide a nutritious addition to any dish.

Germinating Sweet potatoes

Preferred Zones

Sweet potatoes are versatile and relatively easy to grow, making them a popular choice for outdoor gardens. However, the best zones for growing sweet potatoes may vary depending on various factors such as temperature, soil quality, and sunlight.

In general, the best zones for outdoor growing of sweet potatoes are those with long, warm summers and mild winters. These include zones 8 to 11, which cover the southern states of the US, including Florida, Texas, and California. These areas provide the ideal temperature range of 70-80°F for sweet potato plants to thrive.


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It is important to note that sweet potatoes require well-drained, loose soil that is rich in organic matter. To ensure this, gardeners in colder zones can amend their soil with compost or use raised beds to maintain the required soil quality.

Sweet potato plants also need ample sunlight exposure, which means planting them in areas with at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day. Ensuring adequate sunlight and proper moisture levels can promote healthy growth and optimal yield of sweet potatoes.

In addition, it is important to note that sweet potatoes can take as long as 100-150 days to grow from slips to harvest, depending on the variety. Therefore, timing is critical when it comes to planting sweet potatoes in your outdoor garden.

In summary, the best zones for outdoor growing of sweet potatoes are those with long, warm summers and mild winters, such as zones 8 to 11. In these areas, gardeners should provide well-drained, loose soil and ample sunlight exposure to promote healthy growth and maximum yield of sweet potatoes.

Sowing Instructions

Sowing sweet potatoes can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it requires a bit of knowledge and effort to ensure success. Here are some helpful tips on how to sow sweet potatoes and achieve a plentiful harvest:

1. Choose the right time: Sweet potatoes grow best in warm weather, so it’s crucial to plant them during the right season. Wait until the soil has warmed up to at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit before planting your sweet potato slips.

2. Prep your soil: Sweet potatoes love loose, well-draining soil, so it’s important to prepare your soil before planting. You can add compost or aged manure to improve the quality of the soil.

3. Select high-quality slips: Sweet potato slips are the sprouted shoots that will grow into full plants. It’s essential to choose healthy, disease-free slips for the best chance of success. You can find slips at local nurseries or online.

4. Space out your planting: Sweet potato plants need plenty of room to grow, so make sure to space them out properly. Plant slips about 12 to 18 inches apart in rows about 3 feet apart.

5. Plant the slips: Gently plant the sweet potato slips into the soil, making sure to keep the top leaves aboveground. Water them well after planting.

6. Maintain your sweet potato plants: Sweet potatoes require regular watering throughout the growing season. It’s also a good idea to weed around the plants to prevent competition for nutrients.

7. Harvest your sweet potatoes: Wait until the sweet potato vines have died back before harvesting. Be careful when digging up the sweet potatoes, as they are delicate and easily damaged.

With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to a bountiful harvest of sweet potatoes. Happy sowing!

Preparation Advice

If you’re looking for a tasty and nutritious addition to your vegetable garden, sweet potatoes might just be the perfect choice. But before you start planting, it’s important to have the right tools and techniques at your disposal to ensure a successful crop. Here’s what you need to know:


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Choose the right spot: Sweet potatoes thrive in warm, sunny locations, so make sure you pick an area that gets at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. The soil should also be well-draining and fertile, with a pH level between 5.0 and 6.5.

Prepare the soil: To give your sweet potato vines a strong start, it’s important to prepare the soil properly. Begin by tilling the soil to a depth of 8-10 inches, breaking up any clumps and removing weeds and rocks. Next, mix in a generous amount of compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility and structure.

Select your slips: Sweet potatoes are typically grown from slips, which are small sprouts that grow from the tubers. You can either purchase slips from a garden center or grow your own by submerging sweet potatoes in water until they sprout. Once your slips are ready, plant them in the prepared soil, spacing them 12-18 inches apart and 3-4 inches deep.

Provide proper support: As the vines grow, they will need a sturdy support structure to prevent them from sagging or breaking. You can use bamboo stakes, wire cages, or trellises to help the vines climb and stay upright.

Water and fertilize regularly: Sweet potatoes need consistent moisture to develop properly, so water the plants regularly and deeply, making sure the soil stays evenly moist. Fertilize the plants every 2-3 weeks with a balanced fertilizer to promote strong growth and good tuber development.

Harvest with care: Sweet potatoes are ready to harvest when the leaves start to yellow and die back, typically around 100-120 days after planting. Be gentle when digging up the tubers, as they can be easily bruised or damaged. Cure the sweet potatoes by storing them in a warm, humid location for 10-14 days before eating or storing for longer periods.


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With the right tools and techniques, growing sweet potatoes can be a fun and rewarding experience. So get your garden ready and start planning your next harvest!

Germination Tools and Equipment

Germinating sweet potatoes can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it requires the right tools and equipment to ensure your sweet potato plants are healthy and strong. Here are some essential items you’ll need:

1. High-Quality Sweet Potato Slips

Before you can start planting, you’ll need to source some high-quality sweet potato slips. These are the shoots that grow from a mature sweet potato, and they’re essential for starting your germination process. It’s important to choose slips that are healthy, sturdy, and disease-free.

2. A Good Quality Potting Mix


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A nutrient-rich potting mix is essential for the healthy growth of your sweet potato plants. Look for a mix that contains organic matter, perlite or vermiculite for drainage, and added nutrients like compost or worm castings.

3. A Large, Deep Container

Sweet potatoes need plenty of space to grow, so make sure you choose a large, deep container. Many gardeners prefer to use a plastic storage bin or a large fabric grow bag, as these provide ample space and are easy to move around.

4. A Sunny Location

Sweet potatoes require plenty of sunlight to grow, so choose a sunny location for your container. If you’re growing sweet potatoes indoors, consider using a grow light to provide the necessary light.

5. Warm Temperatures

Sweet potatoes are tropical plants and require warm temperatures to germinate and grow. Aim for temperatures between 70-80°F (21-27°C) during the day and no colder than 60°F (15°C) at night.


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6. Watering Can or Spray Bottle

A watering can or spray bottle is essential to keep the soil moist during the germination process. Sweet potatoes require consistent moisture to grow properly, so make sure to keep the soil damp but not waterlogged.

In summary, to germinate healthy sweet potatoes, you’ll need high-quality sweet potato slips, a good quality potting mix, a large, deep container, a sunny location, warm temperatures, and a watering can or spray bottle. With these essential tools and equipment, you’ll soon be on your way to growing healthy, delicious sweet potatoes at home.

Growing Sweet potatoes

Light Requirements

Growing sweet potatoes can be easy with the right lighting environment. As a root vegetable, they need a good amount of sunlight and warmth to develop properly. If you want to grow sweet potatoes indoors, you’ll need to provide them with artificial lighting that mimics the full spectrum of sunlight.

The ideal light for sweet potatoes is a grow light with a mix of red and blue spectrums. This type of light helps plants grow and promotes flowering, which is essential for sweet potatoes to develop properly. If you’re growing sweet potatoes in a room with adequate natural light, you may be able to supplement with just a few hours of artificial light.

During the growing stage, sweet potatoes require around 10-12 hours of light per day. In the winter months, you may need to increase this to 14-16 hours of light. Be sure not to overdo it, as too much light can cause the plants to dry out and ultimately die.

If you’re growing sweet potatoes in a greenhouse, make sure to monitor the temperature and humidity levels. Sweet potatoes thrive in warm conditions, and a greenhouse can provide the necessary environment for healthy growth. With proper lighting and care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of sweet potatoes in no time!

Temperature Requirements

Growing healthy sweet potatoes requires careful attention to temperature, as these tubers thrive in warm and humid conditions. Ideally, the temperature for growing sweet potatoes should be between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, and no lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night.


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If the temperature falls below 55 degrees Fahrenheit for any extended period of time, the growth of the sweet potato plant will be stunted and the tubers will not develop properly. Conversely, if the temperature rises above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the plant may stop producing tubers altogether.

To maintain an optimal temperature for growing sweet potatoes, it’s important to choose a location that is sheltered from harsh winds and receives full sunlight for at least six hours a day. In areas with cooler climates, it may be necessary to grow sweet potatoes in a greenhouse or other enclosed structure to provide the necessary warmth.

It’s also important to monitor the temperature and humidity levels carefully throughout the growing season, as fluctuations can have a significant impact on the health and yield of the sweet potato plants. With the right temperature and care, however, these delicious and nutritious tubers can thrive and provide a bountiful harvest.

My Favorite Tools For Growing Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest vegetables you can add to your diet. They are packed with vitamins A, B, and C, and are a fantastic source of fiber and potassium. In order to make sure that your sweet potatoes stay fresh, healthy, and delicious, there are a few key tools and pieces of equipment that you will want to have on hand:

1. A vegetable peeler: This tool will make it easy to remove the skins from your sweet potatoes, which is important if you want to use them in recipes that call for peeled potatoes.


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2. A sharp chef’s knife: Cutting sweet potatoes can be a bit challenging, as they are quite hard and can be difficult to slice through. Invest in a sharp chef’s knife to make the process much easier and safer.

3. A roasting pan: If you want to cook sweet potatoes in the oven, a good roasting pan is key. Choose one that is made from quality materials and has a non-stick coating to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the surface.

4. A vegetable steamer: Steaming sweet potatoes is a great way to retain their natural flavor and nutrients. A vegetable steamer will make this process quick and easy.

5. A food processor: If you love making sweet potato dishes that require mashed sweet potatoes, a food processor is a must-have. They make it easy to create a smooth, creamy texture that is perfect for soups, stews, and side dishes.

By investing in these key tools and pieces of equipment, you can ensure that your sweet potatoes stay fresh, healthy, and tasty. With a little bit of effort and the right tools, you can create delicious meals that are full of nutrients and flavor.

Preferred Soil Type

Growing sweet potatoes can be a rewarding experience, and the key to success is in the soil. Sweet potatoes thrive in well-draining, sandy loam soil that is rich in organic matter. They require a soil pH level between 5.0 and 6.5.

The first step to creating the ideal soil for sweet potatoes is to ensure that it is well-draining. This means that water should be able to pass through the soil easily, without becoming trapped or stagnant. This is especially important in areas where rainfall may be heavy, as sweet potatoes do not like to be waterlogged.

Sandy loam soil is ideal for sweet potatoes because it is loose and crumbly, allowing for good drainage and aeration. If your soil is heavier, you can add organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve its texture and drainage.

Sweet potatoes are heavy feeders and require a soil that is rich in nutrients. You can achieve this by adding compost or well-rotted manure to the soil before planting. In addition to providing nutrients, organic matter also helps retain moisture and improves soil structure.

Finally, sweet potatoes require a slightly acidic soil with a pH level between 5.0 and 6.5. You can test the pH level of your soil with a simple soil testing kit, which can be purchased at most gardening centers or online. If your soil is too alkaline, you can amend it with sulfur or other acidic materials to lower its pH level.


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In summary, the ideal soil for growing healthy sweet potatoes is well-draining, sandy loam soil that is rich in organic matter and has a slightly acidic pH level. With the right soil conditions, you can look forward to a bountiful harvest of delicious, nutritious sweet potatoes.

Watering Requirements

Sweet potatoes are a delicious and nutritious root vegetable that can be easily grown at home with a little bit of love and attention. One of the most important aspects of growing healthy sweet potatoes is watering.

Sweet potatoes require consistent moisture, but at the same time, they cannot tolerate waterlogged soil. Ideally, the soil should be moist but well-draining. Overwatering can lead to root rot, so it is important to strike a balance between too much and too little.

It is generally recommended to water sweet potatoes deeply once a week, providing about one inch of water per week during the growing season. If you live in a hot and dry climate, you may need to water more frequently. Be sure to water in the morning or evening, when the sun is not as strong, to reduce the risk of evaporation.

During the early stages of growth, sweet potatoes require slightly more water to help establish their roots. Once the vines start to spread out and the leaves become more mature, the plant will require less water.

In addition to watering, sweet potatoes also benefit from a good layer of organic mulch, which can help retain moisture in the soil and protect the roots from fluctuating temperatures.

Remember, healthy sweet potatoes need consistent, but not excessive, moisture to thrive. With the right amount of water and plenty of love, you can grow a bountiful harvest of sweet potatoes right in your own backyard!

What You Need To Know About Fertilizing Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are an amazing vegetable that is packed full of nutrients and delicious flavor. Growing sweet potatoes requires a bit of effort, but with the right fertilizing techniques, you can produce a bumper crop of these tasty vegetables.

To start, you should consider the type of soil you have. Sweet potatoes prefer soil that is slightly acidic, with a pH range between 5.0 and 6.5. If your soil is too alkaline, you may need to add sulphur to the soil to lower the pH.

When it comes to fertilizing, sweet potatoes are relatively easy to satisfy. The best time to fertilize is after planting, once the vines have begun to grow. You can use either chemical or organic fertilizers, depending on your preference. Common organic fertilizers include bone meal, blood meal, and compost.

One important consideration is the amount of nitrogen in your fertilizer. Too much nitrogen can lead to lush foliage, but it can also stunt the growth of the sweet potato tubers. Therefore, it is best to use a balanced fertilizer with equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

It is also important to fertilize regularly throughout the growing season. Sweet potatoes benefit from frequent doses of fertilizer, but be sure not to overdo it. Too much fertilizer can lead to problems such as scab on the sweet potato tubers.

In conclusion, if you want to grow healthy sweet potatoes, fertilizing is an important aspect that should be done with care. Choose a fertilizer that is balanced with equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, and make sure to fertilize regularly throughout the growing season. By following these tips, you can produce a bumper crop of sweet, delicious sweet potatoes that are packed full of nutrients.

My Favorite Fertilizers For Sweet potatoes

When it comes to growing sweet potatoes, having the right fertilizer can make all the difference in the world. Here are some of the best fertilizers you can use to help your sweet potato plants thrive:

1. Compost: This is one of the best fertilizers you can use for any plant, and sweet potatoes are no exception. Compost provides a rich source of nutrients and helps improve soil structure. Spread a layer of compost over your soil before planting, and add additional compost around the plants as they grow.

2. Fish emulsion: If you’re looking for a nutrient-rich fertilizer that’s easy to apply, fish emulsion is a great choice. This organic fertilizer is made from fish waste and provides a concentrated source of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Mix it with water according to the package directions and apply it to your sweet potato plants every two weeks.

3. Bone meal: Bone meal is a great source of phosphorus, which helps encourage root growth in sweet potatoes. Add bone meal to your soil before planting your sweet potatoes, and be sure to mix it in well.

4. Kelp meal: Kelp meal is another great organic fertilizer that can help increase the nutrient content of your soil. It’s rich in potassium, which is essential for root development in sweet potatoes. Apply kelp meal to your soil before planting, or mix it with water and apply it as a foliar spray.

By using these fertilizers in tandem, you’re sure to help your sweet potato plants become healthy and strong. Remember, taking care of your plants with the right fertilizers can improve your crop’s yield and quality as well.

Harvesting Sweet potatoes

Time To Maturity

Sweet potatoes are a delicious and nutritious root vegetable that can take a varying amount of time to grow from sprouting to maturity depending on several factors.


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On average, sweet potatoes take around 90 to 170 days to reach maturity. However, the actual time it takes for these plants to mature can vary depending on environmental conditions and whether they are grown using slips (stem cuttings) or from seeds.

If you are growing sweet potatoes from slips, they will typically take around 90 to 120 days to reach maturity. This is because slips already have a head start on growing, having been grown from an established and mature plant. Meanwhile, if you are growing sweet potatoes from seed, it may take longer to achieve maturity, with the plants taking up to 170 days or more to reach full maturity.

Of course, the growing conditions you provide for your sweet potatoes can also play a significant role in their development. Sweet potatoes prefer warm, sunny environments with well-draining soil that is kept moist but not too wet. They like a pH level of around 5.5 to 6.5 and need ample space for their vines to grow and spread out.

So, if you are interested in growing your own sweet potatoes, it’s crucial to consider all of these factors and be patient when waiting for them to mature. With proper care and attention, you can expect to enjoy a bountiful harvest of nutritious and delicious sweet potatoes in just a few short months.

Harvest Instructions

Sweet potato harvesting is a process that involves patience, hard work, and a bit of skill. However, if done correctly, it can yield a bountiful harvest of nutritious and delicious sweet potatoes that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Before beginning the harvesting process, it is important to ensure that the sweet potatoes are mature and ready to be harvested. The ideal time for harvesting is approximately three to four months after planting, depending on the variety and weather conditions.

To begin, loosen the soil around the sweet potato plants using a garden fork or shovel. Be careful not to damage the potatoes as you work. Once the soil is loose, gently lift the plants out of the ground by their vines or stems.

Shake off any excess dirt or soil clods from the sweet potatoes, but be careful not to damage the delicate skin. Inspect each potato for cracks, bruises, or signs of disease, and set aside any damaged or diseased potatoes for composting.

Allow the remaining sweet potatoes to dry and cure in a warm, dry location with good ventilation. This will help to toughen the skins and improve their storage quality. After a week or two, carefully brush off any remaining dirt or debris and trim off any excess vines or stems.

Store the sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place with good ventilation for up to several months. They can also be canned, frozen, or dried for longer storage.

In summary, to harvest sweet potatoes successfully, loosen the soil around the plants, gently lift them out of the ground, inspect and sort the potatoes, allow them to dry and cure, and store them properly. Following these steps will help ensure a bountiful harvest of sweet, nutritious sweet potatoes that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

My Favorite Tools For Harvest Time

When it comes time for sweet potato harvest, it’s important to have the right tools and equipment at your disposal. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out, the following items can help make your sweet potato harvest a success:

1. Garden Fork – A sturdy garden fork will come in handy for digging up sweet potatoes from the ground. Look for a fork with strong tines and a comfortable handle.

2. Harvesting Knife – A sharp and durable harvesting knife is great for slicing through the vines and cutting away the sweet potato tubers from the roots.

3. Bucket – As you dig up your sweet potatoes, you’ll want a bucket handy to store your harvest. Make sure the bucket is sturdy enough to handle the weight of your sweet potatoes.

4. Gloves – While sweet potatoes aren’t particularly sharp, it’s always a good idea to wear gloves when digging them up. This will help protect your hands from scrapes, scratches, and other injuries.

5. Wheelbarrow – If you’re harvesting a large amount of sweet potatoes, a wheelbarrow can be a lifesaver when it comes to transporting your harvest from the garden to your storage area.

6. Storage Containers – Once you’ve harvested your sweet potatoes, you’ll need a place to store them. Look for containers that are breathable and can allow air to circulate. This will help prevent mold and rot.

By having these tools and equipment on hand, your sweet potato harvest will be a successful and enjoyable experience.

End of Season & Overwintering

As the autumn weather sets in, it’s time to prepare for the end of the sweet potato season. These versatile tubers are prized for their sweet flavor and nutritional benefits, but they require some special care in order to survive the colder months.

First, it’s important to harvest your sweet potatoes before the first frost. Ideally, you should aim to harvest them when the vines have turned yellow and begun to wither, which typically occurs about four months after planting. Be sure to handle them carefully during this process, as any bruising or damage can encourage rot.

Once you’ve harvested your sweet potatoes, it’s time to cure them. This involves letting them sit in a warm, well-ventilated area for about a week. During this time, the skin will toughen and any cuts or nicks will heal. This process helps to extend the storage life of your sweet potatoes.

After curing, store your sweet potatoes in a cool, dark place with high humidity, such as a basement or root cellar. They should be kept at a temperature of about 55 degrees Fahrenheit, and should not be exposed to any light or heat sources. Be sure to check on them periodically to make sure they’re not sprouting or rotting.

If you live in a colder climate or don’t have a suitable storage space, you may also consider overwintering your sweet potatoes indoors. One approach is to dig them up and place them in a large container filled with potting soil. Keep the soil moist and the container in a warm, bright location (such as a sunny window) and your sweet potatoes should continue to grow and produce new tubers.

Overall, with a little bit of careful attention, you can enjoy the sweet taste and nutritional benefits of sweet potatoes all year round.

Final Thoughts on Sweet potatoes

Congratulations! By following our complete guide to germinating, growing, and harvesting sweet potatoes, you’re one step closer to enjoying your own homegrown, delicious sweet potatoes. Remember to start the germination process early, prepare the soil well, and provide consistent care throughout the growing season. With a little patience and attention to detail, you can be rewarded with a bountiful harvest of sweet potatoes that will impress your friends and family. So get out there, have fun, and happy sweet potato growing!

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Sweet potatoes

Q: What is the best time to start planting Sweet potatoes?
A: The best time to plant sweet potatoes is during the warm season when the soil temperature is above 60°F. In most areas, this is typically in mid-spring, although it can vary depending on your location. Planting sweet potatoes too early when the soil is still cool can cause slow growth, while planting them too late can lead to a smaller harvest.

Q: How do I know when my sweet potatoes are ready for harvesting?
A: Sweet potatoes are typically ready for harvesting 100 to 120 days after planting. You can tell when they are ready by observing the foliage. Once the vines start to yellow and die back, it is a good indication that the sweet potatoes are ready for harvest. You can also dig down into the soil and feel for the sweet potatoes. If they are big enough and have a firm skin, then they are ready for harvesting.

Q: What is the best way to store Sweet potatoes after harvesting?
A: Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry, and dark place. They should not be refrigerated as they prefer warm and humid conditions. A temperature of around 55-60°F is ideal. You can store them in a dry, well-ventilated area such as a pantry or basement. It is important to check on them regularly and remove any that are starting to rot or sprout. Stored properly, sweet potatoes can last for several months.

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