Growing Sweet Potatoes in West Central Florida:
Sweet potatoes are a staple crop in West Central Florida, and with the right techniques, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of these delicious and nutritious tubers. Here are some key tips to successfully cultivate sweet potatoes in this region:
- Soil preparation: Choose a sunny location with well-drained soil. Prior to planting, work organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to improve its fertility and drainage.
- Planting season: Wait until the soil has warmed up, typically in late spring or early summer, before planting sweet potato slips. Slips are young shoots that have been started from sweet potato tubers.
- Planting and spacing: Dig a trench or create raised mounds for planting. Place the sweet potato slips into the soil, burying about two-thirds of the stem and leaving the top portion exposed. Space the slips about 12-18 inches apart in rows, with 3-4 feet between rows.
- Watering and maintenance: Sweet potatoes require regular watering, especially during the initial stages of growth. Keep the soil consistently moist but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to rotting. Mulching around the plants helps retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
- Harvesting: Sweet potatoes are typically ready for harvest after 90-120 days, once the foliage starts to yellow and die back. Carefully dig around the plants to unearth the tubers. Allow them to cure in a warm, dry place for about a week before storing.
By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a successful harvest of flavorful sweet potatoes from your West Central Florida garden.