Sunday, November 8, 2009

Growing Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in a Container

6 months ago, I purchased 23 Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings from Mericlone Labs (see this blog entry).

I planted most of the cuttings in Raised Beds in my garden. Three weeks ago, I harvested my first Okinawan Sweet Potatoes from one of the Raised Beds (see this blog entry)

I had 4 Okinawan Sweet Potato cuttings left over, so I decided to experiment and plant these into a container. I had a fiberglass half barrel planter laying about that I pressed into service.

The picture on the right shows how the cuttings look in the container. They did not look too healthy, as I had planted the better looking ones into the Raised Beds.

Surprisingly, the cuttings took root.

One thing I noticed was that the Okinawan Sweet Potato plants did not produce as many leaves as the ones that I had planted in the Raised Beds. I think this is because there is more nitrogen in the soil of my Raised Beds then there was in the container.

I use Dynamite Controlled Released Fertilizer into the half barrel planter and nothing else. Where as I had put a rich mixture of organic fertilizer in the Raised Bed.

I put the planter next to the east facing part of my house, so the Okinawan Sweet Potato plants only got sunlight in the afternoon.

This picture shows how the Okinawan Sweet Potato plants looked this morning.

This picture shows the half barrel container after I cut away all of the leaves.

I had no idea how many (if any) Okinawan Sweet Potatoes I would have in the container.

So I was very surprised when I flipped the half barrel planter over and found Okinawan Sweet Potatoes all around the edges of the container!!!

The yellow arrows on the picture to the right shows all locations where there are Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.

This picture shows a close up of a large Okinawan Sweet Potato that grew vertically along the edge of the half barrel planter.

There were also Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in the interior of the container.

The picture on the bottom shows all of the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes that I harvested from the container.

It was almost 10 pounds!!!

This was more than I got the Raised Bed that I had harvested 3 weeks ago (see this blog entry) and harvesting was much much easier!!!

It took me a long time to dig up the soil in the Raised Bed to find the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes. I had to dig under and around the Raised Bed because the roots of the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes went under the Raised Bed.

With the container, I just had to invert the half barrel planter to find the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.

I make my own potting mix (see this blog entry) and I think it helps that this potting mix is very loose. This not only made it easier for me to separate out the potting mix to find the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes, but it also made it easier for the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes to grow larger.

In my Raised Beds, the soil is dense and there are rocks and other impediments that prevent Okinawan Sweet Potatoes from growing uniform.

So, what did I learn?

I can grow better and more Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in a container than I can in a Raised Bed.

I am still going to grow Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in my Raised Beds, but I going to get some more half barrel planters and grow more Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in containers.

I already recycled the potting mix and my half barrel planter to grow another round of Okinawan Sweet Potatoes.

One interesting thing is the cuttings I put in the planter this time are much healthier looking than the ones I put in 6 months ago.

I hope I get just as good of a harvest with these cuttings.

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