Almost 1000 pounds! That’s how much sweet potatoes were harvested on Oct. 3rd at the Goodman Youth Grow Local Farm in Madison. Master Gardener Volunteers and youth farm interns worked with 100 elementary students from Kennedy & Van Hise Elementary Schools to harvest the sweet potatoes that were delivered to local food pantries.
The latest 10 day forecast does not have frost, but keep track. You can harvest any time now, but the potatoes are still growing and will get bigger. Also, if you have any roots exposed above ground, be sure to harvest them before frost occurs to avoid damage.
If you won’t be curing your sweet potatoes (read below), the best place to bring your donation is the Community Action Coalition, 1717 N Stoughton Rd, Madison. (map)
If you choose to drop them off at any other food pantries (map here) , please cure them first.
Also, once you donate, make sure to update us on how many pounds you donated.
The curing process heals any small wounds and enhances sweetness by converting the root’s starches to sugars. Ideally, the sweet potatoes should be kept in a space (greenhouse or 4-season porch) for about 10 days at 80-85°F at high humidity (85-90%). If that is not available, they can be cured next to a furnace for 2-3 weeks at 65-75°F. An option to achieve the required high humidity (85-90%) is to stack storage crates or boxes and cover them with paper or heavy cloth. Also, packing in perforated plastic bags will allow excess moisture to escape.
Once the sweet potatoes are cured, move them to a dark location where a temperature of about 55-60°F can be maintained during storage. Keep the sweet potatoes out of the refrigerator as they can be damaged by cold. Wrapping cured sweet potatoes in newspaper and storing them in a cool closet or basement is a great option. Stored properly in ideal conditions, sweet potatoes will last between 6-10 months!
Thank you and good luck!
Most of our Beauregard sweet potato plants have reached the 100-day mark in their growing season so it’s time to consider harvesting procedures:
- Due to the shorter growing season in our region, allow the plants to mature as long as possible before harvest.
- Harvest should occur shortly before or directly after the first frost kills the vines. Roots continue to grow until vine die-off and are only susceptible when soil temperatures drop below 50 degrees; use a soil or meat thermometer to check.
- After vine die-off, immediately remove the top growth to prevent decay from spreading the roots.
- Dig about 1-2 feet from the base of the plant with a spade/pitch fork or shovel to uncover the your delicious, nutritious treasure.
- Take care not to damage the roots as sweet potatoes lack the thick, protective layer like standard potato tubers. Sweet potatoes need to undergo the curing process to develop a thicker skin.
- Resist temptation to clean the sweet potatoes before drying & curing as they may be damaged and become infected.
Watch for an updates soon about curing and donating ½ of your harvest!
We’re getting close to the end of sweet potato growing season here in Wisconsin. John Binkley shows how he harvests sweet potatoes.
In this video, John Binkley from Equinox Community Farm shows how he plants slips.
The slips have arrived!!
The slips will be distributed from Community Action Coalition (CAC) office at the following times:
Saturday, June 15 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Monday, June 17 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
Tuesday, June 18 – Thursday, June 20 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
And we’ve uploaded a new presentation and video on how to best plant and grow your sweet potatoes.
We’re excited! Are you?
Here’s the video on planting those slips.
Here’s a great article from the University of Illinois Extension on how to grow sweet potatoes.
We will be providing classes on how to grow sweet potatoes in Wisconsin. The following list is the days, times, and locations of the classes.
April 13 (during Food Camp)
149 Waubesa Street
Willy St East
1221 Williamson St
Willy St. West
6825 University Ave
UW-Extension, 1 Fen Oak Drive, Madison, WI
We’ve been getting a significant number of signups and already have almost 6,000 slips requested!
Here are some of the common questions we’ve been hearing from people interested in the Sweet Potato Project.
Why sweet potatoes?
They are high in nutrition and can last a long time when properly cured and stored.
Do sweet potatoes grow in Wisconsin?
You bet. The Beauregard variety is a fast maturing plant, best suited to the Wisconsin growing season.
Will you be providing the slips?
Yes. We’re ordering a couple thousand slips this winter and they will be available for planting June 2013.
Do I get to keep the potatoes I grow?
You keep half and donate the other half to a local food pantry.
How big are the plants?
Sweet potatoes are vines and will spread out so you’ll need at least a 3 foot square area per plant.
How many pounds of sweet potatoes does a plant produce?
Roughly 3-5 pounds, but this can vary dramatically based on growing conditions.
Will you be providing directions on how to grow sweet potatoes?
You bet. The UW extension and other organizations will be offering sweet potato growing workshops this spring. The classes will be offered a number of times and we’ll post the schedule once we have it.
So, we’ve had great success so far with LOTS of people signing up to grow sweet potatoes. So many people have signed up, we now need to raise some more money to pay for all these slips will be ordering in January.
Here’s how it works. We’re totally volunteer driven and have almost no expenses. However, the slips do cost money and we need to buy a few thousand of them. For each $10 donation, we can order about 40 sweet potato slips for people to plant and this will end up being 60 pounds of donated sweet potatoes.
$10 donation => 60 pounds of sweet potatoes to local food pantries.
Pretty cool, eh? Your donation will go a long way with this project and will help people in need next fall.
Happy New Year!