Vines and Other Climbing Plants

Sweet Potatoes 

There is often confusion between Sweet Potatoes and Yams amongst English people as they are thought of as being the same, but they need very different growing conditions. As a vegetable they are becoming more popular, but it is the Sweet Potato that is more suitable for growing outdoors in the English climate. The growing season is shorter than for Yams and they need a slightly lower temperature for the plants to develop, although, of course, both would be better grown in a polythene tunnel or greenhouse. 

It is possible to grow Sweet Potatoes from shop-bought tubers, but very often they have been treated to stop them from sprouting. To get them to sprout they need to be scrubbed and washed before being placed in trays on moist sand in a warm propagator. Shoots will appear which can be cut off at 2-3 inches in length and then these are rooted to create the young plants for growing on. Alternately you can buy un-rooted cuttings or slips from a mail order company to root.

Because Sweet Potatoes are not really hardy enough hardy to grow as a normal crop in the UK, you must wait until the temperature is well up in June and then they will only grow successfully in the milder parts. They are best planted in ridges and are fussy about the soil quality that needs to be fertile, light and sandy. Ideally they should be treated as a greenhouse crop and grown in tubs or grow bags. 

With plenty of water and regular feeding every other week you can expect them to be ready to harvest in four to five months. As Autumn approaches the leaves will yellow and die back and then the tubers can be lifted.

Sweet potatoes are actually members of the Ipomoea family of vines and climbers including, the Morning Glory that is grown for itís blousy flowers, (Link-Morning) and closely related Convolvulous. (Link.)

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