Sweet potatoes, unlike regular potatoes cannot tolerate cold weather and therefore are never available until around the Mother’s Day season. Sweet potatoes are easy to grow as they prefer “bad” soil, compact and dry, are just fine. Sweet potatoes can actually be grown in large containers such as a bushel basket or any old pot you may have in storage. After the potato has grown to maturity, simply tip the pot over and get your potatoes.
The favorite sweet potato variety by most of my customers is Beauregard. It is the variety most likely found in your grocery store. With a red/orange outside skin and a slightly orange inside and the fact that it matures quickly and produces a very high yield, it’s sure to be your favorite too. Centennial sweet potatoes have a copper outside skin with an orange inside and have been a popular variety for as many years as I can remember. Which now brings us to the bunch variety, Porto Rico, a truly red variety with a copper outside skin and a red inside. Porto Rico plants grow in a “bush” style with makes them a “space-saver” in your vegetable garden.
Sweet Potatoes and yams are different but many developers of sweet potatoes label them as yams. The U.S. government requires any sweet potato labeled as a yam must also say sweet potato to show distinction between it and a yam. Orange-colored sweet potatoes have a much sweeter taste and more flavor than ones that are more white or yellow.
There are ornamental sweet potatoes known as Ipomoea which most greenhouses sell as a filler plant for large pots or hanging baskets because of their great speed of growth and the fact that they hang down as a colorful vine. Ipomoea come in many shapes and colors, mostly red or lime green as well as a variegated variety. Shapes include heart shaped, round and oak leaf varieties…all very interesting and worth growing.