Many gardeners decide to grow sweet potatoes because homegrown sweet potatoes taste heavenly, but the other reason is that they’re super easy to grow.
It may be challenging, especially for beginners, to determine if these veggies are ready for harvest. But it’s crucial to do it on time if you plan to store them.
And that’s exactly what you should do because, when stored correctly, they get even sweeter since their starches convert to sugar.
Let’s see how and when to harvest sweet potatoes and some brilliant tips for storing them!
When To Harvest Sweet Potatoes
The first thing you need to do is cut back on watering these veggies because it can cause the crops to crack, which can cause problems after you store your sweet potatoes.
Interestingly, sweet potatoes actually grow most in the late season; they will gain most of their size and weight during this period. Remember that these veggies don’t stop growing when their leaves turn yellow so do not start with the harvest yet.
The ideal time to pick these veggies is in the fall but before the first frost. Light frost may not affect crops but it’s better to be on the safe side.
Hard frost may be detrimental to the roots that are close to the surface of the soil.
Tips For Harvesting
I always tell growers to be careful when harvesting their sweet potatoes since they bruise easily. You can ease the process by removing the stems about two days before the harvest. This allows the skin to toughen up which is very important for storage.
Take a garden fork and start loosening the soil approximately 18 inches around the crown of each sweet potato plant. The depth should be about 6 to 8 inches. Now carefully take your sweet potatoes out.
Most of the crops are close to the soil surface so it’s pretty easy to take them out. However, if they’re a few inches away from the crown, you should sift through the ground to pick all the crops.
I know that many gardeners use different tools when harvesting sweet potatoes, but for me a garden fork works best. Now inspect all the crops and separate the damaged ones.
You shouldn’t store them but rather cut off the damaged parts and use them immediately.
Brush off the soil from the healthy crops; never use water when cleaning harvested sweet potatoes. Instead, leave the crops to dry out for a day or two and it will be easier to brush off.
Simply put on a pair of gardening gloves and gently clean each crop, being sure not to remove any skin.
Minor scratches don’t affect crops but if you accidentally scrape some deeply, it’s better to separate them for immediate use.
Tips For Curing Sweet Potatoes
Well, before you store your sweet potatoes, you need to cure them. This process allows the minor scratches to heal and initiates the conversion of starches to sugars.
This is how these veggies get their amazing, sweet flavor.
First, find a warm spot in your home where temperatures are approximately 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, humidity levels in the room where you cure your sweet potatoes should be high. Now, leave your crops in this spot for about 10 days.
If you don’t have such a room available, you can keep your sweet potatoes at temperatures ranging from 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. You should cover them with a cloth to boost humidity and keep them there for about 3 weeks.
It’s possible to cure sweet potatoes outdoors, but make sure the environmental conditions are favorable and direct sun doesn’t reach the crops.
I keep my sweet potatoes in my attic with a humidifier near them.
Tips For Storing Sweet Potatoes
The best thing about these root veggies is that they can last in storage for up to 9 months if you cure them correctly. Honestly, I eat them way before but it’s good to know how much they last for those who have planted a lot.
Simply put your sweet potatoes in boxes and place them in a dark room at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have a basement, put these veggies there and they will definitely last a long time.
If you planted a lot of these veggies and (hopefully) got an excellent yield, you can enjoy them up until the new growing season.
Nothing related to sweet potatoes, including growing, harvesting, and storing isn’t hard and I’m sure you’re gonna do it right by following our tips. That’s it; now all you need to do is enjoy their heavenly flavor!