From planting back in mid-June, it’s been 3-1/2 months to the sweet potato harvest. The variety, Beauregard, is listed as 80-100 days to maturity, although, like potatoes, you can dig them up anytime, as soon as the tubers have formed. The vines are frost-sensitive, and the tubers shouldn’t be left in the ground if the tops are frost-killed, so I’ve been gambling with the first frost timing in order to let them grow for as long as possible. Today seemed like a good time to start. This has indeed been a really easy, pest- and disease-free crop, requiring only a little weeding until the vines filled in. Harvesting turned out to be equally easy. After digging up a few plants to see how the tubers grow, Lynn, Toshiko and I set up a quick hand-harvesting system: remove the vine, loosen the soil with a digging fork, scrabble around for the taters.
The soil had quite a lot of moisture from recent rains, so we had to spend a little extra time brushing off clumps of clayey earth. We left them for a couple of hours to dry in the breeze, then collected them in bins and brought them into the Milkhouse. By the book, sweet potatoes could use 10-14 days of curing at 80-85°F (25-28°C) . In part, this allows some of the starch to convert to sugar, making them…sweeter. That sort of HEAT isn’t available around here right now, but for this first time around, and too small a quantity for really long-term storage, I’m not too concerned. I baked some a couple of days ago, and they already taste good. Let’s see what a week or two indoors does for ’em!