Hi there!

I’m slowly working towards some simplicity within the home, but hey! It’s a lot of hard work!

I love having a go at growing my own veges and always use herbs fresh from my garden. I try to plant from seed whenever I can and have learnt to save and share my own seed for the following year. I make Award Winning preserves and pickles; and my husband brews Award Winning boutique beers as well. I love to stockpile and try to limit quick trips to the shops. I dabble in bread making and enjoy making my own stocks too.

I enjoy feeding my family good hearty meals, nothing like those tiny restaurant stacks you have to look for on the plate. My husband maintains our vehicles and machinery and we both enjoy fabricating on a small scale mostly relying on metal & timber recyclers for any materials needed.

While I don’t always have time to reply to comments, I love reading them. I hope you enjoy your stay and I hope you learn something new because I love sharing what I learn, and I'm always looking for another new skill myself.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Growing Sweet Potatoes

Until recently, I had never grown Sweet Potato....some also know this root vegetable as Kumera. There are three main varieties or colours of the Sweet Potato, but generally, there is not much difference in flavour.

I am yet to harvest my first tuber, but my plant so far is looking rather healthy. Sweet potato is an excellent source of mulch....it's also brilliant as a clay breaker....and either way; you get to eat the end result.....and if you bandicoot them while they are still growing, you get to have your crop and eat it too. How much better can that be?
This photo was taken almost a month ago, and the tub is fully covered over now with leaves and runners.

Even though I had already planted this lot earlier with beginners luck........After learning how to propagate a Sweet Potato Plant correctly at my garden course last Saturday, I had to have another go.  I visited the Barrack Heights Community Garden midweek, and came home with cuttings and plants, along with which was a few runners of Sweet Potato.

You can grow them too if you know someone who is already growing them. You can also plant a young tuber and hope for the best....I have had tubers in a brown paper bag for easy 6 months....and they are just beginning to form eyes on them....so I figure getting some cuttings or a runner off someone is the easier way to go.

Firstly, dig and turn over the soil where you are going to plant the runner.....dig in some compost and make sure there is good drainage in the area you have chosen. You can plant them in raised beds, which is what I am doing, or you can plant them on mounds about 15 to 20 cm high. You can see in the following photo all the tiny new growth, just waiting to prosper.

Use cuttings which are about 30cm long, and remove the side leaves.
Run a slot in the soil, and press the soil over the cutting. Don't forget to leave tip of the cutting exposed above ground.....You should have roughly 5cm of soil covering the cutting.
Water the area well, and often until roots have formed....the rest is just as easy.............

Before covering with soil.
Look at the difference in colour, of the vines.
The green foliage is my original vine, 
and the purple is the one I was given the other day.

Hmmm...I wonder if that means they are two different varieties?

Oh, and check out the two hitch-hikers I picked up from the garden.....I found them in the bag along with the cuttings.......I couldn't help but capture their beauty.....
all the while thinking how nice and fat they were....and how very destructive they would be in my garden, had I not found them........I had never seen anything like them before.

Have you grown Sweet Potato before? If so, how did it go?....Would you have a go now, after seeing how easy it is? ........

Have you ever seen these little, but rather big creatures before? I had a look on Google, but couldn't find their exact eye (fake) markings...lots of other Horned caterpillars though.......


  1. funny I had the same sort of caterpillars in my garden this year also could not find what it was.

  2. Sweet potato leaves are so pretty! Those caterpillars look nasty....they look like one that stung me once when I was little. (That's what it felt like, a sting.) love,andrea

  3. Nellymary, that looks like a four horned Sphynx caterpillar.

  4. Those critters thrive on our tomato plants (New Mexico USA). I paid my daughter 25 cents per bug to take them off and we fed them to the chickens. Oh the chickens loved them.

    I never found a solution to rid the bugs from the plants so we scoured the tomatoes twice a day during our growing season and did not loose too much except the leaves.


  5. Hi Nellymary,
    Our Vietnamese neighbours eat the leaves of the sweet potato in their stir fries. Have you tried this or do you have any information as to how to cook them. I love the tubers but they do take ages to grow don't they.
    Blessings Gail

  6. Hi Nellymary,
    I have been experimenting with growing sweet potato also. It one of my favourite veggies. I had no idea how to start, so I put a sweet potato on some wet sand until I got some shoots, now I've put it in a tub and I'm hoping for the best. I have a few lovely little leaves just starting to poke through. I had heard it was a tropical plant and would not survive in this neck of the woods but a bloke my husband knows said he has grown them successfully for years, so I figured it would be worth a try.

  7. Hi Narelle,
    about 18 months ago l found a sweet potatoe had grow a few roots so l thought l would plant it, it was an experament. l put it into a 3 meter squared garden plot, after 6 months we started digging up sweet potatoes we still have the same plant still growing with new runners on them. The purple cutting will probley grow the purple sweet potatoes and yor green cutting will grow the orange sweet potatoe. l was given a bag of the purple potates and we ended up throwing them out, you don't peel them like the orange ones as they turn black straight away and l would end up with this very small potatoe that l couldn't use.
    l hope yours grow well and before you know it there will be plenty of potatoes.

    Gail(poodle lover)

  8. Dear NellyMary,
    They look like tomato horn worms. Very destructive. Try this link
    Anon from Iowa (USA)

  9. Thanks ladies, I'm so glad I didn't bring them back home with me....I really need to sort out a more permanent place for the sweet potato, I don't think the huge pot is going to work out...there are now runners hanging over the edge everywhere.....
    Interesting about the purple vines too...I might buy a purple sweet potato just to see how they are when cooking.....might save me lots of garden space in the future if I decide they aren't for us....

  10. Hiya,
    I grew sweet potato a year or so ago. I live in Victoria so not a huge growing season for them here. I planted the tuber whole and when it finished I dug up a tuber about the same size. So not much profit.
    But then I learned you should grow them in a box of sand and cut off the runners when they emerge and plant them out.
    I have one in the polyhouse in a box now but it hasn't shot yet and getting close to mid summer. I may have to grow them entirely in the polyhouse for the warmth.
    I did read a while ago that the best way to grow them is to dig a biggish hole, lay in it some weed mat then back fill and plant with the runners as usual.
    When you come to harvest all the tubers will be captured in the weed mat so you know you get them all as they can grow a long way from the plant. Sounds like a good idea.

  11. Thanks Dayla, that's an excellent idea with the weed mat; which I think I will try when I move some into the front garden.

  12. Yes they definitely are Tomato Horn Worms. They grow up to be some sort of big moth thing I think but I do know they eat leaves off tomato plants and even the bite into the green tomatoes...yes get rid of all you ever find. Chicken though do love to eat them! Sarah

  13. They are tomato horn worms. There is a natural product called Bacillus Thuringiensis or BT that kills them. It actually is a bacteria that when they ingest it they stop eating. It works and is not harmful to humans or pets.

  14. Thanks again for all the great comments.....I think if I ever find some again...I will try keeping them somewhere safe...as I have been told they are a lovely huge butterfly...and we all need butterflies in our garden, as they are a good pollinater.....lone lady yesterday even asked if I could keep them for her if I ever find any others..she has butterflies flying around her garden all the time, which would be a sight to enjoy.

  15. The horn worms will defoliate your tomato bush and yes they bite into the tomatoes. After they have been on the plants they soon go down hill I have found. Also with less leaves the tomatoes left get sun scald. Are you sure you want to grow some of them? Some years I have many of them on our tomatoes and other years just a few. I hand pick them off when I do find them. They are not easy to see as they are the same color as the vines. I would check into the moth that they become and see if it is actually something you want to propagate. The huge Sphynx moth I believe. Perhaps the people at your garden club can guid you on this? Sarah

  16. SPHINGIDAE of Australia

  17. I grew sweet potatoes from a potato that had started to sprout in the kitchen moisture near the water boiling jug. I planted this in soil that gets very good light but only direct sunlight half of the year. Still we had endless foilage trailing about and we used this for salads and soups as this too is edible. The potatoes did not grow very big, probably because of lack of direct sunlight. All the same very worth growing.


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