Root Vegetables

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The sweetest potatoes

Potatoes don’t count towards your 5 a day vegie goal, but thankfully delicious sweet potatoes do. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals, have a low GI and are high in carotenoids, which are great antioxidants.

The most common variety of sweet potato is the orange skinned and flesh ‘Beauregard’, however there are also varieties available with red skin and white flesh (‘Northern Star’) and white skin and purple flesh (often called ‘Hawaiian Sunshine’).

If you have a warm sunny spot and a frost-free window of 5 months, you can grow your own sweet potatoes at home. Sweet potato plants are vigorous vines, with the edible tubers developing below ground .

Sweet potatoes can be started from tubers, potted plants (available in garden centres) and also ‘slips’, which are shoots taken from a sprouting sweet potato tubers.

In tropical and subtropical areas sweet potato can be planted during January, in temperate and cool areas it’s best to wait until the beginning of next spring to plant sweet potatoes (or until after the last frost), to give them the longest number of warm months to grow.

Prepare and enrich the soil beforehand by digging in some Yates® Dynamic Lifter® Organic Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser. This will add valuable organic matter to the soil and provide the establishing plants with gentle, slow release organic nutrients.

Apply further Yates Dynamic Lifter around the root zone every 6 weeks to encourage healthy leaf growth and the development of lots of sweet potato tubers.

Keep an eye out for sap sucking insect pests like aphids and whitefly and control with weekly sprays of Yates® Nature’s Way® Vegie & Herb Spray, applying both on the upper and lower leaf surfaces where these insects often hide.

You can start to gently feel under the ground for tubers once the vines start to yellow.

Space saver tip: In smaller gardens, try growing a few sweet potato plants along and up a trellis. They will need to be tied gently to the trellis as they grow, as their preference will be to grow along the ground.
Sweet potatoes can also be grown in a large, well drained container, ensuring the soil is kept moist and the plants well fed.


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