So, another year of growing sweet potatoes under my belt. And what have I learnt this year?
I think the main conclusions to draw this year is the confirmation that some varieties are more suited to my soil and weather conditions. The darker fleshed varieties probably like somewhere a bit warmer as both Burgundy last year and now Evangeline have struggled to produce a decent harvest.
My top three last year were:
This was from five plants of each variety don't forget.
This year my top three were:
Belle Vue (1.3kg)
The actual harvests were less but I then only had three plants of each variety. Looking at the overall yield (calculating the total weight of the tubers harvested divided by the area of ground the crop took up on the plot) was less too; 2.23kg/sqm vs 1.6kg/sqm. But again this may purely have been because I had less plants in effectively the same area i.e. three plants per tunnel instead of five so a better comparison may be made next year if I only have three plants per variety again, which I think I will as even 7kg of sweet potatoes is enough for me!
So I think I can safely assume I should get about 2kg of tubers per row going forwards. Is it worth the effort and amount of space they take up on the plot? Possibly not, but I do enjoy growing them. They provide a talking point and now that I have a full plot, it's not like I'm struggling for space anymore!
Last year I had problems with a soil borne fungus called scurf that affected the skin of some of the tubers. The flesh of the potatoes underneath was ok, they just didn't look very nice as the skin was all dry and black. I chose healthy looking tubers to grow my slips for this year and luckily all the tubers I've harvested are ok.
This year's problems have been something eating at a couple of the varieties while still in the ground, probably slugs and possibly because I left them in the ground too long.
Indeed, I found most of the skin of one huge Murasaki tuber that had been eaten away!
And the other thing to note is some of the vines rooted themselves.
When I dug them up it looked like these new plants had been trying to produce tubers.
I think in trying to do so, this took away a lot of strength from the main plant so its tubers were smaller. These were from Murasaki which didn't produce as good a harvest as I was expecting. A possible solution, if it happens again, might be to cut these rooted plants off from the main plant and see if these new plants produce any decent tubers.
I'm going to see if I can source another variety to try for 2018, there's a couple more I have seen from seed companies here; Carolina Ruby and the delightfully named T65 are a couple.
In fact the 2018 growing season is already underway as one of the tubers decided to produce a slip whilst still in the ground!
So I have broken this off and put it in a water to encourage it to grow a few roots before potting it on.
And the cycle continues......