Sunday, November 14, 2010

Harvesting Okinawan Sweet Potatoes

About seven months ago, I planted some Okinawan Sweet Potato vines into 7 half whiskey barrel containers (See this blog entry).

I decided this morning to see if there were any Okinawan Sweet Potatoes in one of the containers (see this picture to the right).

This is approximately the same that that I harvested Okinawan Sweet Potatoes last year (See this blog entry).

Last year, I had a very difficult time restarting the Okinawan Sweet Potato vines after I had completed the harvest (see this blog entry). This was primarily due to the cold weather at this time of the year.

This year, I wanted to be as non-invasive to the Okinawan Sweet Potato plants as possible. So instead of cutting away all of the leaves and vines as I did last year, I just flipped the container over a bunch of old news papers.

You can see all of the Sweet Potatoes cluster along the outer rim of the soil mix in the picture to the right.

Instead of destroying the root structure and get all of the Sweet Potatoes in the container, I only harvested the Sweet Potatoes on the outer edge.

The picture to the right shows all of the holes left by the Okinawan Sweet Potatoes that I harvested.

I am sure that there were Sweet Potatoes in the middle of the container, but I could not get at them without tearing everything apart.

I also left several small Okinawan Sweet Potatoes that were not worth harvesting along the outer edge.

The picture to the right shows my yield from this container. Last year, I harvested bigger Sweet Potatoes. I think this is due partially to the abnormally cold summer we had in the Los Angeles area this year.

I am going to wait another month or so before I harvest another container. Hopefully by then, the Sweet Potatoes will have grown bigger.

When I was done, I put the container back over the Sweet Potato plants and flip the soil mix back in.

The picture to the right shows how the Sweet Potato plants look after everything was done. You really can't tell the difference from the picture at the top.

I am very happy with this modification to last year's procedure.

I avoid the trouble of restarting the Okinawan Sweet Potato vines during winter and hopefully I can get another harvest from this container in another 6 months or so.


  1. That's funny, i just finished harvesting a few Okinawan Sweet potatoes of my own tonight. Not being as clever as you i grew them in the ground and kept slicing them in two with the shovel as is dug. Looks like you got a better yield, too. Nice job!

  2. I'd like to share my idea to " my southern california vegatable garden " so you will have more experience growing sweet potatoes,you should do it in 1 or 2 weeks ,before you bring them out side.first spread the plant around the W.B.C , then put 2 inch soil on the top of the plant in your W.B.C .This will be covering the first 2 inch of the leafs growing out of the W.B.C . right now (as i see in the picture).Keep soil moist , then place them in warm place or sunny spot , then wait 1 week . Gently poke around with your finger, until you see a lot of fresh roots in the soil. Once you find them, (fresh ones) ,use the knife and cut beneath the fresh roots to remove the old roots underneath them. So you now have many fresh new roots. Restart your new plant . With your W.B.C you only need to put down 2 or 3 roots . If you plant many roots in 6 or 7 weeks the roots will develop , they will be tangled. You will not get a better yield. Never use old roots, put them somewhere . It could be compose for next year (2012) . I use compose manure at walmart $ 1.35 mix with (grass ,leafs from last year). I have purple sweet potatoes (purple skin , purple flesh), they still hold their color after cooking , I’d like to buy 4 or 5 your Okinawa sweet potatoes roots after you have the new roots, if you don’t mind. You can have my purple roots if you like, just let me know. I have a good yield and they are 20 to 25 oz. potato, I’m glad to mail 5 to 8 fresh purple roots to you on march- 15. March is a safe time to send them to you, I’m living in Massachusetts zone 5 , I start my garden on may-15. You can reach me on skype. “ AsianbeautyVan”

  3. Very interesting technique. Thanks for sharing great photos and description

  4. Oh that is awesome! I was wondering do you know where I can find some Okinawan tubers to grow (or if you could even sell me a tuber :D)? The company that had them out on the west coast (mericlonelabs) is out of business now. I've searched so many places and I can't seem to find one to order from :( I've tried the supermarkets (seeding from those) and it doesn't work (later found out that they treat them when they leave hawaii).

    1. I know this is WAY late, but if you're still interested you can buy the potatoes from a farm in Hawaii online (their shipping is free too)... and grow tubers from them :)

    2. We vacation in Hawaii, and I am growing sweet potatoes in So. Cal. Unless this farmer is sending these without the ag. inspection, 500 dollar fine, all potatoes are irradiated and will not sprout. I get my cuttings from www.Duck

  5. Try emailing Debbie at Mericlone labs directly ( They have had problems with their website lately.

  6. I just came back from Hawaii and fell in love the sweet patato. I am so happy to see this post. I have two in the refrigerator right now. Plant to grow them in a pot. Will now be too late to grow them? I live in texas it is hot here.

    1. How is your sweet potato doing now? I just got a slip and plan to plant it in spring out side in Dallas area.

  7. Go ahead and plant them now. As long as there is no frost, the plants will survive. If you have frost in the winter, take some cuttings from your plants and keep them in water so that you have something to plant when the weather is warmer.