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Sweet Potatoes

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

Sweet potatoes would definitely make it on our list of survival garden plants. They are easy to grow, thrive in hot, dry conditions, are very nutritious, the leaves provide shade and are edible as well, and one sweet potato or yam makes a lot of food.

Planting Sweet Potatoes in Central Texas

Sweet potatoes are grown from slips, which you can purchase from a nursery or make yourself.

Growing your own Sweet Potato Slips

Submerge sweet potatoes about halfway in water and place them in a windowsill. After a couple of weeks, shoots and roots will start to form, which you can then gently pull off the potato and keep in water to root further until ready for planting. The best time to plant sweet potatoes in Central Texas is in the spring once temps have started to warm up (we usually plant ours in April), so you’ll want to start your slips early and time them accordingly.

Growing Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes like sandy, well-drained soil so they can develop good tubers. If you don’t have an area suitable for this, it’s a good idea to plant in a raised bed or work in plenty of compost and organic matter. Grow bags work great and make harvesting so easy!

As soon as soil is warm, plant sweet potato slips about 2-3 inches deep, with the leaves sticking out of the ground. To prevent transplant shock, it‘s best to plant them in the evening and keep well-watered the first couple of days while they’re getting established.

Sweet Potatoes in the Edible Landscape

Sweet potato greens grow quickly once they get going, blanketing the ground in the heat of the summer or growing up a trellis to serve as a privacy hedge.

Harvesting and Curing Sweet Potatoes

Harvest your sweet potatoes once the tops begin to yellow or around the first freeze. Once sweet potatoes have been harvested, brush off excess dirt and cure them by laying them out to dry in a cool, dry area for 1-2 weeks. Uncured sweet potatoes can bruise easily so handle them carefully. To preserve storage quality, don’t wash them until you’re ready to cook them.

Cooking with Sweet Potato Leaves

Sweet potato greens can be snipped off as you want to use them and cooked into soups, stews, and stir fries. They’re popular in Asia and Africa, so you can look to these regions for some great recipes. They have a mild flavor and we cook with them just as we would any other green.

Cooking with Sweet Potatoes

Here are some purple yams we‘ve been growing and cooking with the past few years. They’re tasty baked, roasted, or pureed into desserts.


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