Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sweet Potatoes in Washington State

Early this spring, I planted red, yellow, white, purple and fingerling potatoes. I was getting into growing potatoes!

So I was looking for another kind of potatoes to plant. Aha! Sweet potatoes! We love sweet potatoes! I headed to my local nursery. "You can't grow sweet potatoes in Washington! No, we don't carry starts that you'll just kill!"

Challenge accepted!

Apparently sweet potatoes come from Central and South America, and are grown in the US mostly in North Carolina, Louisiana, Mississippi and California. Washington is too cold to grow sweet potatoes.

Folks that know me, know that the best way to get me to do something is to tell me it can't be done. I grew cantaloupes and watermelons in Bellingham (successfully) for no better reason than that. They were small, but they were also yummy.

So I ordered a dozen starts from George the Tatorman. One of the varieties is called Georgia Jets, and is suitable for growing in more northern climates (apparently, like Georgia). Georgia Jets are known for their "remarkable hardiness. Great for our northern neighbors. Has rose petal skin that truly stands out in the field. Light orange meat. Excellent baker. Matures in 80-90 days with normal rainfall."

Research suggests that the big thing for sweet potatoes is the soil temperature. I've got a couple of very large bins in the greenhouse that I'll be growing them in.

I have seven plants; here are the first four. I planted these in mid-May. These are pretty closely packed, as far as commercial sweet potato growers talk about. As a result, I'll get smaller sweet potatoes, "suitable for baking," rather than the huge ones in the grocery store.

Apparently, I've been contagious: I've got a couple of friends with greenhouses going on them as well.

More news as it breaks.


Here's how they're doing on the first of June. It looks to me like they're doing reasonably well. I wonder why some are doing better than others.
This weekend I gave them each a spoonful of 8-10-10 fertilizer.

And here we are the tenth of June. They're growing fast.

Me? Excited? What makes you think that?


  1. The Sweet potato plants you gave me are all getting new leaves. Looks like they are going to make it. They are in pots but I will be planting them in a box in the green will be their permanent home for the summer and until it is time to see if they actually make potatoes.

  2. My Sweet Potatoes are doing well, they all have new leaves and look about like yours. Getting ready to put them in the box in the green house where they will live. I understand that they spread quite a bit so I may have to train them to go up or the may take over the gr house.

  3. Mine are in danger of taking over the whole back of the Red Door Green House. It's kind of scary. It's kind of exciting, too!