It is sweet potato (Ipomea batatas) harvest time in Georgia. At this point your potatoes should have been growing for 90-120 days and you will want to harvest them just before frost.
School gardeners sometimes use sweet potatoes as a way to keep their gardens productive, and relatively carefree, during the summer. Harvest is a fun way to get students involved.
Community gardens sometimes have a plot just for community potatoes. Maybe it is time for a harvest party!
Home Garden Sweet Potatoes is a useful guide to growing and harvesting this delicious crop.
Harvesting Your Sweet Potatoes
Northern Georgia has already experienced a light frost (October 19th) so set aside some time to get this chore completed. Once temperatures get cold your potatoes may start to rot in the ground.
On harvest day your soil should be dry. It is difficult to harvest underground crops in the mud!
Find the primary stem of your plant. The crop may be formed up to 18 inches from that stem so use that as a guide. Garden forks work well if your soil is loose enough. Be careful; the potatoes can bruise very easily.
Storing Your Sweet Potatoes
After harvest, cure the unwashed potatoes by letting them air dry in a shady location at a warm temperature for several days. Next, carefully store them in a cool, dark area for several months. Do not store them in the refrigerator.
Some gardeners report success by wrapping each potato in newspaper and storing them in plastic bins. Others store their harvest in plastic bins of clean sand. Many community gardeners don’t have a large storage area and they use their attic or garage for storage. Which ever method you choose, protect your potatoes from rodents.
You can enjoy sweet potatoes in many forms – baked, mashed, and in muffins. Most Southerners have delicious memories of sweet potato pie!