I should have taken a picture, but forgive me. I am pretty sure you all have seen sweet potatoes before. The other night I was in my garden and looked into the potato box. The sweet potato vines are immense and as I have never grown sweet potatoes before I was looking to see if there was any way I could tell when to harvest or even if I was going to have a harvest. In the corner of the box, sticking up was an end of a sweet potato! I pulled it out eagerly and I suppose I could have waited because it was more like a large carrot than the tuber sized ones I get at the store. Since I had picked it and it was really not big enough for a meal, I roasted it with other thing; garlic, onion, and eggplant all from my garden along with a store-bought organic carrot. I sliced them into coins and drizzled a little olive oil on, then added some salt and pepper, and put it in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes. It was delicious.
I am anxiously waiting for more now. I still have to research when to harvest. Most of what I have found says that they take about three to four months after planting the slips, so I have to look through my garden journal and find out when I planted. I did read that frost and cold weather can hurt sweet potatoes, so they recommend harvesting right before the first frost. The frost apparently kills and blackens the vines above ground and if you don’t harvest, decay can start in and get below the soil. In this same article, it said that if your sweet potato plants suffer a frost one night, cut the vines off right above the soil first thing the next morning. That way you may be able to leave the potatoes in the ground for a few more days.
You are supposed to cure them for a while, so I guess my using it as soon as I picked it was not recommended. They say that curing should be done for 10 to 14 days keeping sweet potatoes in a warm, dark place with some ventilation. The temperature should be 80 degrees with high humidity. Under these conditions, bruises and wounds will heal quickly, sealing out rot organisms. I don’t have a root cellar so maybe just an open box in the basement will suffice. Bottom line is that now I am really anxious to see what my garden as wrought. It is another new garden experience.