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Sweet potatoes contain high levels of vitamin A, C and antioxidants compared to regular potatoes. Not to mention they are lower on the glycemic index than normal potatoes meaning they are less likely to make your blood sugar spike, perfect for those worried about their sugar consumption.
These root vegetables have long been grown throughout warmer climates.
Their popularity has surged in the UK in recent years with hardier cultivars and growing these veg under protection allowing Brits to grow this crop at home.
It’s easy to see the appeal of this delicious crop, from flavoursome jacket potatoes to tasty chips this versatile veg can be used in a huge number of ways.
Even the shoots and leaves, when cooked, can be used as an alternative to spinach.
Sweet potatoes can be tricky to grow in chilly Britain but, if you can protect them from the frost you should be able to enjoy these tasty veg.
How to grow sweet potatoes
Most sweet potatoes can be grown in the UK, but Carolina Ruby is considered to be a particularly reliable kind.
Sweet potatoes are best grown from cuttings or taken from plants that have spent the winter indoors.
You can grow them from store-bought tubers but these may be less hardy and ill-suited to growing outside.
The easiest way to encourage your tubers to sprout is to put them in the airing cupboard or another suitably warm and dry location such as in a warm propagator.
When shoots grow to about two to three inches long removed them with a sharp, sterilised knife.
Pop these into small pots of cutting compost and root them with a propagator.
If you are using cuttings from overwintered plants treat your cuttings in the same way.
Sweet potato plants aren’t hardy and will fail if they become too cold.
You will need to grow them in warm, frost-free conditions for 3 or more weeks until they’re well established.
Therefore, it is best to plant them in March or April ready to harvest between August to October to ensure any cold snaps don’t affect them.
Once they are well established and all risk of frost has gone you will need to gradually acclimatise the plants to the outdoors before transplanting them.
How to grow plants outdoors
Sweet potatoes thrive in Grow full sun in fertile, well-drained soil, they prefer acid or neutral soil.
Grow sweet potatoes 30cm apart, leaving 75cm between each row.
Sweet potatoes need high temperatures of 21 to 26C, British summers usually can’t be relied upon to deliver such warm weather.
It is best to grow sweet potatoes in the UK in greenhouses, polytunnels or under cloches if you live in a particularly cold area.
In warmer areas, you can try planting them outdoors, if you do decide to go down this path make sure you plant them through a sheet of black polythene and cover them with fleece or plastic cloches to raise the temperature.
Remember to water sweet potato plants regularly, your delicious veg should be ready to harvest in 12 to 16 weeks after planting.
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