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Overwintering Sweet Potato vine or tubers

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au0rey starts with ...
Does anyone know how I can overwinter sweet potato? I have lots of tubers in the ground and the vines are so far still ok with the cold but not sure about winter.

Has anyone overwinter sweet potato vines successfully before? Or overwinter the tubers somewhere and resprout in spring?

thanks!
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melbourne
27th April 2010 8:29am
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Jantina says...
Hi AuOrey, we were just discussing this yesterday as we are also keen to store some of our tubers to replant in the spring. So far the best I have found is a leaflet from a government research station in America. Let me know if you find anything better.
aggi-horticulture.tamu.edu/.../carver-sweetpotatoes.html-United States-

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Jantina
Mt. Gambier S.A.
27th April 2010 9:42am
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au0rey says...
Hi Jantina, thanks! I cannot click onto the click. Tried cut and paste but error on loading..could you give me the link again?
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melbourne
27th April 2010 11:46am
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Mary says...
Wow! auOrey, did you get all those potatoes from your plant? May I know how long was the vine in the ground?
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Melbourne
27th April 2010 3:58pm
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Brad says...
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/publications/guides/carver_sweetpotatoes.html
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Brad2
Como, perth
27th April 2010 6:19pm
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Jantina says...
Thanks for that Brad, I'm a computer dud!
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Jantina
Mt. Gambier S.A.
28th April 2010 10:19am
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au0rey says...
Yes Mary, those were from one vine and I have a another 5 vines' not dug up yet. I planted them beginning of December/Summer.

Thanks Brad and Jantina!
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28th April 2010 1:34pm
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amanda says...
Hey au0rey - how does the taste of yours compare with shop ones? If the difference is as good as it is with spuds - then u have inspired me! I wouldn't have though they would do so well in Melb?? Well done....any tips? Do u grow them like potoates? thanks
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amanda19
Geraldton. WA
28th April 2010 8:40pm
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Violet_Cactus says...
I tried growing sweet potatoes this year for the first time. Here in Melbourne the climate obliged by being unseasonably WARM for AGES. It's only just started getting cold now, and it's nearly the end of April.

The SPs have been purring along thinking they are in Qld. I have some growing in terracotta pots because the terracotta absorbs the heat of the sun during the day. The pots are sitting on concrete for the same reason. I also have some stored in a cold room nestled in a complicated cocktail of stuff. My storage medium recipe of vermiculite/sulphur/de-humidifiers is based on the following assorted snippets of information:

STORAGE
Sweet potatoes are stored in temperature- and humidity- controlled warehouses that extend the sweet potatoes' shelf life for the entire year.

Garden sweet potatoes will keep for several months after they have been harvested from you garden, if you provide the sweet potatoes with the right environment.
Handle the sweet potatoes carefully and as little as possible to avoid bruising them (a bruised sweet potato is more likely to rot).

Place the sweet potatoes in a single layer in dark, dry location where the temperature will be close to 80 degrees. (26 Celsius) Leave the sweet potatoes there for 10 days. Then the temperature needs to be cooled down to 70 (21 Celsius )degrees for the next 20 days for the sweet potatoes to dry and cure for proper long term storage.

If you have a basement furnace, that is the ideal place to cure your garden sweet potatoes. After the 30 day curing process, store your sweet potatoes in a dry area that will remain below 60 (15 Celsius) degrees but above freezing. Check your sweet potatoes weekly and remove any that begin to rot.

Sweet potatoes spoil rapidly. To keep them fresh, store them in a dry, cool (55-60) place such a cellar, pantry, or garage. Do not store them in the refrigerator, where they will develop a hard core and an "off" taste. If stored properly, sweet potatoes will keep for a month or longer. At normal room temperature, they should be used within a week of purchase. You may brush off any excess dirt before storing, but do not wash them until you are ready to cook them. It is the moisture from washing that will increase their spoilage.

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/sweetpotatoes.html
Dig Those Sweet Potatoes
Released 10-4-01
by B. Rosie Lerner, Extension Consumer Horticulture Specialist

Although some folks may be sad to see fall coming a bit early this year, many gardeners are looking forward to harvesting their sweet potato treasures.
Sweet potatoes are warm-season plants that are very sensitive to cold temperatures. The tuberous roots should be harvested by the time frost kills the vines or soon thereafter. Sweet potato roots continue to grow until frost kills the vines. Roots can be left in the ground for a short while; however, an extremely hard frost can cause damage to roots near the surface. Chilling injury also results to roots when soil temperatures drop to 50F or lower, and this can result in internal decay in storage. The greatest danger from delayed digging is the risk of cold, wet soil encouraging decay of the roots.

Depending on how early you were able to plant, you may find an assortment of "baby baker" or smaller roots, as well as full-size potatoes. Although you can cook newly dug sweet potatoes right away, their flavor and storage quality is greatly improved by curing at warm temperatures first. It is during the curing process that starch is converted to sugar.

Care should be taken during digging and handling to avoid skinning and bruising the roots. Even a small wound can easily become infected with decay organisms. Line containers with rags or other soft material, if possible, to avoid scratching the roots. Do not store badly injured or diseased roots.

Although large amounts of soil clinging to roots during storage is not desirable, sweet potatoes are easily damaged during the washing process when freshly dug. Allow roots to dry and cure before removing excess soil.
Cure sweet potatoes by holding them for about 10 days at 80-85F and high relative humidity (85-90 percent). In the absence of better facilities, they can be cured near a furnace to provide warmth. If the temperature near your furnace is between 65-75F, the curing period should last 2-3 weeks. To maintain the required high humidity (85-90 percent relative humidity), stack storage crates or boxes and cover them with paper or heavy cloth. Packing in perforated plastic bags will also keep humidity high, yet the perforations will allow excess moisture to escape.

Once the sweet potatoes are cured, move them to a dark location where a temperature of about 55-60F can be maintained during storage. Sweet potatoes are subject to chilling injury, so keep them out of the refrigerator. Outdoor pits are not recommended for storage because the dampness encourages decay. Good results can be obtained by wrapping cured sweet potatoes in newspaper and storing them in a cool closet.

ABOUT MOULD ON TUBERS:
Take the fuzzy tubers, rinse them off and drop them in 10% bleach/water solution, I usually let mine soak for 10 minutes or so. If any have started to go bad, you can cut that part off, tho you can't cut off where the eyes are. Let them dry, dip/roll in powdered sulphur and re-wrap-individually- in plastic wrap.

If you can get some vermiculite put a handful in each bag or store them in boxes or crates covered with it- it has been the best way we've ever found to store tubers- right now there's over 10,000 of them tucked up in the cold room under their blanket of vermiculite- no plastic involved at all.
You could put one of those Dry-Z-Air thingies in the root cellar.

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VioletCactus1
Melbourne
28th April 2010 9:42pm
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au0rey says...
Wow Violet, thanks for that info!

Amanda, I havent tasted home-grown spuds so not sure how to compare with shop-purchased ones. The sweet potatoes I harvested were really really sweet and delicious indeed! I even had a few sent home to my father overseas and he commented that they were really great.

Skinned and chopped sweet potatoes go very well cooked with porridge.

I actually planted the vines to harvest their young leaves and shoots for stir-frying and I did manage to harvest several rounds for that. Once the leaves grow too large and turn a little yellow, the ground where the main stems are explode and I could see sweet potatoes. Isnt it great? U can eat both leaves and tubers!

I grew the vines in the soil where my golden sheen trees are growing. The vines also act as an edible groundcover and weed suppressant (See picture 1). When planting, I just added some manure and thereafter they needed nothing at all. They are also pest-free so far. I believe the soil around my golden sheens is quite fertile (as the sheens are growing very well too).

I am not sure if I should store any tuber over winter but I am surely propagating some vines from the parent vines.

Just harvested another batch from one vine. (attached pic)

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29th April 2010 8:44pm
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Paul W says...
I have grown sweet potato successfully for about 12 years or more. Crops can be quite large if you get things right. I typically get enough to fill a plastic shopping bag from one plant! One thing for sure though is you can not leave them in the ground over winter as they just rot and go to slush. You can harvest the tubers anytime around when you expect the first winter frost. To keep them going i always take about 20 or so cuttings and place them in a glass of water. Within a couple of days, they will start sprouting roots. ONce they have some roots, i pot them up and leave them somewhere warm (i have a hot house attached to the side of my home, so i leave them there over winter). Then i plant them out at about the same time as tomatoes and most other things. This year i tried keeping a tuber in the pantry and it kept just fine, so i put it in some soil and within a few weeks it sent out new shoots, so you could try this too and propagate from the shoots. The person i got them from said he tried several varieties that didnt produce all that well until he came across the one i have, which is a purple skinned/white flesh variety. This is the only one i have tried so cant comment on others, but the purple one does produce very well indeed.
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Vic. Gippsland
29th April 2010 9:25pm
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Jantina says...
Interesting Paul, I've only grown the orange fleshed ones here in Mt. Gambier, will have to try the purple ones too. Good info.
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Jantina
Mt. Gambier S.A.
30th April 2010 12:14pm
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au0rey says...
Hi Paul, thanks for your info! I was thinking of leaving some tubers in the ground and heavily mulch them so that they may reshoot next season...looks like i will have to dig all of them up soon from what u shared.

I have used pots of potting mix and buried part of the vine (with shoots attached) in the mix to encourage rooting..thereafter I will cut the vine to separate it from my independently growing shoots...much like propagating strawberry runners. I dont have a hot house so they may not make it in winter. I am trying to get a portable greenhouse.

When u talk about keeping a tuber in the pantry, how long did it take to shoot? If too fast, how are we going to contain it over the winter months? Do u need to bring it out to have some sun daily?

My sweet potatoes are also orange fleshed. When i bought the vines from bunnings, I didnt even know what colour they will turn out. Purple ones look very attractive. :)
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melbourne
30th April 2010 6:42pm
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Violet_Cactus says...
Thanks Paul for your advice gleaned from 12 years' experience! Glad to know there's another way of keeping them going through winter besides putting the tubers in storage.
I have the purple-fleshed sweet potatoes. This is because I want to make (one day) Purple Chiffon Cake. The recipe is from the Internet and I don't know whether it will actually work. Fortunately Jujube Lucy from this forum is an expert cook and she's sent me some info on cooking with sweet potato.
Here's the original (untested by me) Purple Chiffon Cake recipe:
http://en.kokotaru.com/2009/07/purple-sweet-potato-chiffon-cake/
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VioletCactus1
Melbourne
30th April 2010 10:20pm
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Violet_Cactus says...
Here's another interesting recipe:

Candied Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients:
6 pcs medium size sweet potatoes
1/2 cup syrup
water for boiling
2 tbsps water
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup brown sugar

How to make Candied Sweet Potatoes
Wash sweet potatoes.
Cook partially in boiling water 15 minutes.
Drain and peel. Set aside.
Mix butter, syrup, water and brown sugar in heavy skillet.
Put sweet potatoes on top.
Cook slowly until sweet potatoes are tender and well glazed.
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VioletCactus1
Melbourne
30th April 2010 10:24pm
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PaulW says...
I kept the tubers in the pantry just for somewhere to store them over winter. They didn't shoot in there at all and in fact they did dry up a bit so I didn't know how the would go. In the spring i put them in a pot of soil and placed them in the hothouse and they started shooting from there.
I don't think it is essential to keep the new plants in a hothouse over winter, but you need to keep the frost off them.
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Vic. Gippsland
2nd May 2010 9:40am
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au0rey says...
Thanks Paul. Will try it out. Probably use some kind of protective cloth to cover over them thru evening till morning.
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melbourne
9th May 2010 9:21am
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Karen &amp; Paul says...
Oooh I'm feeling a bit excited now. We have had a vine develop from our compost and I wasn't taking too much notice of it, but I will check it out tomorrow and see if we have any tubers down below. We are on the Qld border here (Tweed). We dont get frosts so when should I harvest? It's only a small vine and the local wallabies have really enjoyed the leaves. I will definately see if I can salvage a few to try the cuttings technique as advised by Paul W... Thanks
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Paul Karen1
Pottsville Northern NSW
9th May 2010 9:09pm
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au0rey says...
My vine started really small (with just a few leaves) but now they are grown extensively and one vine covers about 2SQm. I think the vine has to grow to around this stage before they have any tubers, so I am not sure if you would have any tuber. No harm digging a bit. With QLD's tropical warm weather, it is very easy to grow sweet potatoes.
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melbourne
11th May 2010 5:29pm
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Mairs says...
Last spring I planted some cuttings of "sweet potato" given to me by a friend, interested to see how they would go in this coastal location. The vines grew vigorously all summer and I have been waiting for them to die off. As we do not have frosts, there was no sign of this happening so I started to dig. I found purple skinned tuber with white flesh - sweet and delicious. Today I dug again and turned up this beauty!
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Mairs
Aireys Inlet
14th May 2010 5:37pm
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Mairs says...
So they normally grow this big!!??
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Mairs
Aireys Inlet
14th May 2010 5:41pm
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Charles cant spell says...
That's a good size one for sure, but yes the Asian Green grocer I go to (I think there dad grows them), I saw one the size of a small watermelon (i.e. bigger than a rockmellon). It never sold as it was the for 3 weeks, and they eventually took it home for there own dinner :P They said it was fine but a little stringy in parts. So big is not always better I guess.

I know my mum let hers sit in a polly tunnel in Pemberton over winter and harvest then slowly the next year, some were ok some were rocks, inedible.
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Charlesstillcantspell1
Perth Innaloo
14th May 2010 6:41pm
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au0rey says...
Wow Mairs that's huge! Yes like Charles says if the tubers get too huge and old, they may taste too fibrous.
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15th May 2010 3:23pm
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sue says...
i put sweet potatoes in a glass of water and i have them for an inside plant they grow very long vines, can i put them into the ground? they have roots on them
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lancelin
23rd May 2010 6:33pm
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M Nash says...
The "Sweetest" sweet potatoe Ive ever had is the white variety. Karen & Paul, I dont know why they only grow the bland (IMO) orange ones up here on the Tweed?
I think Jap Pumkin is sweeter. The white ones are sugar sweet and bake well if cooked low and slow.
Mind you, I still eat the orange ones as they are local and cheap.
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MNash1
Terranora Northern NSW
23rd May 2010 8:27pm
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au0rey says...
Sue, yes i believe you can put it into the ground but i am not sure which part of Oz? you are in...if it is tropical, you can grow it anytime. I am in melbourne and it is going into winter so i cannot plant anymore sweet potatoes.
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23rd May 2010 8:42pm
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snottiegobble says...
I have my first orange sweet potato patch & wonder when they should be harvested?
There is a mention of curing the tubers at warm temperature, but is this nec.
I bought a purple skin variety vine from Bunnings 2 weeks a go at a very reasonable price I thought at under $9.
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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso ( smack in the middle)
12th April 2011 12:08pm
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au0rey says...
Snottiegobble, i read that as the leaves start to die down you can harvest. For my orange variety, I did not really wait till they die down. I could see that there are tubers poking out of the soil. If you dig lightly you can check if there are tubers. The tubers grow where the roots are.

I didnt find any sweet potato vines this year from Bunnings. Wished I had! I bought the orange variety vines at bunnings for $3 each. $9 for the purple variety is ex by me. Are the purple so much better than the orange?

Did you cook the shoots and young leaves of the vine? They are yummy vegetables!
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au0rey
melbourne
12th April 2011 3:01pm
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hawkypork says...
I just bought a bag of smallish orange sweet potatoes and planted them. You dont need to buy them from a nursery do you?

The vines have done very well over summer and I plan to have a bandicoot around on the weekend to see if I have gotten any good tubers.

Very interested to hear that the purple skin/white flesh variety are highly rated. I will give them a go next spring.

thanks Haakon
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13th April 2011 3:24pm
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snottiegobble says...
The purple skin/white flesh variety have a different shaped more attractive leaf than the orange, & all the new growth is a pleasant claret colour. Mine is really taking off but I wonder why they were put on the market at this time of year approaching winter?
They are considered far more nutritious than the orange variety & recommended for growing under fruit trees to provide a natural mulch to keep weeds at bay.
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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso ( smack in the middle)
13th April 2011 11:49pm
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Brad says...
they take as cuttings (rooted or not) really easily. so not a plant you should need to buy. you can overwinter some in pots under cover and plant out again when it warms up.
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Brad2
G Hill,Perth
14th April 2011 11:12am
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snottiegobble says...
Brad, would you recommend taking cuttings from this new purple/white that is in the ground & keep them in the greenhouse over winter?
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snottiegobble
Bunbury/Busso(smack in the middle)
16th April 2011 12:03am
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Brad says...
Sure. I just stuck mine in pots on a veranda.
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Brad2
G Hill,Perth
17th April 2011 10:28am
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