Sweet Potatoes (8/31/2020) Today, I finally decided to pull sweet potatoes from the garden, to inspect the progress. Beautiful vines covered my garden, and the plants looked amazing! What's underground is what I've been wondering about. Sometimes, I become so anxious about root veggies, because I can't see the progress of the fruit! I feel like I only get one chance at it, because if I pull them out and find out that the fruit isn't ready or discover an issue- I would feel so disappointed! Growing root veggies in clay soil without modifying it is a real challenge!
As I started to remove the vines, I saw a sweet potato poking out of the ground, so I got excited! I harvested it! Next, I found a couple of huge sweet potatoes curled up and cracked everywhere! Immediately, I researched the possible cause of this deformed ugly sweet potatoes.
Here's what I found! According to the article from "Gardening Know How", If your sweet potatoes crack when they grow, you know there is a problem. Those cracks that appear in your beautiful, firm vegetables are likely sweet potato growth cracks. They are usually caused by excess water. Sweet potato vines die back in late summer, as harvest approaches. The leaves turn yellow and look parched. You may want to give the plant more water but that’s not a good idea. It can cause cracks in a sweet potato. Excess water at the end of the season is the primary cause of split or cracks in a sweet potato. Irrigation should stop a month before harvest. Abundant water at this time causes the potato to swell and the skin to split.
Sweet potato growth cracks from fertilizer also occurs. Don’t toss a lot of nitrogen fertilizer on your sweet potatoes since this can also cause sweet potato growth cracks. It does produce lush vine growth, but splits the roots. Instead, use well-aged compost before planting. That should be plenty of fertilizer. If you are sure more is required, apply a fertilizer low in nitrogen. You can also plant split-resistant varieties. These include “Covington” or “Sunnyside. (Read more at Gardening Know How: Why Are My Sweet Potatoes Cracking: Reasons For Sweet Potato Growth Cracks https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/sweet-potato/sweet-potatoes-are-cracking.htm)
Can you believe that?? I wish I knew! I was watering it as normal to keep them alive! Now, my second question: why my sweet potatoes were knobby and ugly?
Causes of Knobby Potatoes In order to figure out how to prevent oddly shaped potatoes, it’s necessary to understand the causes of knobby, deformed potatoes. Really, it’s very simple. Any stress on the developing tuber will cause it to become ill-formed. What kinds of stresses? Well, temperature fluxes and improper planting are two major factors. In the case of temperature, high temps cause field stress. Generally, the longer the tuber variety, the more susceptible it is. If you live in an area where temperatures are routinely high, be forewarned. Avoid planting the longer tuber varieties and irrigate sufficiently during the early growth phase. Also, don’t worsen the stress by adding too much nitrogen. To allow proper development of the spuds and avoid potatoes tubers that are deformed, it is important to have smooth clod free soil with space between each plant. You want to foster long (2-4 inches) stolons, the roots attached to the tuber. These stolons absorb all the nutrients and water necessary for growth. When the stolons are constricted, twisted, diseased or under stress, the plant cannot absorb the necessary nutrients to engender smooth, unblemished potatoes. Short stolons constrict the growth of the tubers and cause them to compete for space, resulting in knobs on potatoes and other malformations. Short stolons also foster disease such as rhizoctonia, which will cause the plant to lose its first set of tubers and the successive sets will be severely deformed. All that being said, an unusually long stolon may also result in malformed spuds. Overly short or unusually long stolons cause a hormonal imbalance and affects the potato’s overall shape. Knobs on potatoes are also due to stimulated growth on one or more of its eyes. The size of the knobs depends on the stage of growth the tuber is in when a stressor occurs. High temps are the cause for this stimulated growth. How to Fix Deformities in Potatoes Plant the tubers in clod free, aerated soil. If you live where it is routinely hot, plant the correct variety of potato — short, small spuds. Temps above 80 F. (26 C.) lower the supply of carbohydrates to the tuber and decrease cell division, resulting in malformed potatoes. Irrigate regularly at the first growth stage and avoid excess nitrogen. Allow plenty of room between plants so they can develop long stolons with wide diameters to better absorb nutrients. (Read more at Gardening Know How: Knobby Deformed Potatoes: Why Potato Tubers Are Deformed https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/potato/knobby-deformed-potatoes.htm)
I am learning there are so many things that my grandparents were doing when I was not watching! They made it look so easy by inviting me to help to harvest, but I recognize that there was a lot of effort, dedication, knowledge through experiences to make sure they harvest the gorgeous looking veggies year after year! I wish there were still alive! So next year, I know what to do! Maybe...
Bitter Sweet Story of Sweet Potatoes 2020
6/3/2020: Rodents were attacking my sweet potato vines, so I transplanted to my Pumpkin Patch!
6/24/2020: I am glad I transplanted them. They are doing so much better here!
7/1/2020 I should've done this from the start! I feel like I wasted first 2 months of their life! Now they are set!
8/2/2020 Look at this beautiful sweet potato vines! They grow very fast!
8/21/2020 Beautiful vines! Had no idea underneath the green was some ugly sweet potatoes...
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF), America's largest wildlife conservation and education organization, is pleased that Kozue Maye at Poof Dirt Farms in Pahrump, NV has successfully created a certified Wildlife Habitat through its garden for "Wildlife" movement.