Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

Freshly dug sweet potatoes from 2 plants.

Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

The Sweet Potato is my favorite and most exciting crop to harvest.  This is the time of year when I become a vegetable archeologist digging for burried veggie-artifacts.  Granted, I have never excavated a site of a prehistoric society but I do believe that you have to be just as gentle exhuming these valuable vegetables.  In my opinion, sweet potatoes are worth as much as gold.  (OK - I've carried this way too far - I'll get to the point......... I like sweet potatoes).

It is time to harvest sweet potatoes in the fall when the sweet potato vines are yellowish brown (or almost brown as seen in the picture above).  The first thing to do is find the base of the vine - sometimes you will be able to see the top of a sweet potato peeking through the ground.  Simply follow the vine to the base of the plant (as seen above). 

Once you have found the base of the plant you can remove the vine (you should be able to just pull it off easily or the vine will just snap off).  Now take a pitchfork (preferably a potato pitchfork - which is less pointed and more sturdy) and place the pitchfork into the ground about 6 to 12 inches away from the base of the sweet potato plant.  The reason for the distance is that you are trying not to spear a sweet potato - every year I always end up spearing a few but I just eat them that night for dinner.

Once you have inserted the pitchfork into the ground - just lift the pitchfork up slightly and gently (as if you were digging with a shovel) and you will see the sweet potatoes start to emerge.  The next step is to get down on your hands and knees and dig for the remaining sweet potatoes from that one plant.

You will never know exactly how many sweet potatoes each plant will produce or how big they will be - it is a surprise every year.

Continue digging until all of your sweet potatoes have been harvested.  If you live in a more moderate climate you should be able to mulch your sweet potato plants over the winter and just harvest them when you want - but we cannot do that here in Michigan.

If you recall in June - I planted 50 sweet potato plants:  Planting Sweet Potatoes.  The first picture in this post shows how many sweet potatoes we were able to harvest from just 2 plants.  It has been a great sweet potato year - Thank you Lord for the bountiful harvest.

1 comment:

  1. We harvested ours this past week. I did spear a few. :( We only planted 20 slips but I'm hoping to do more next year. Thank you for sharing this at our HomeAcre Hop. We'd love to have you back again tomorrow.


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