Gardeners' World Web User
14/10/2007 at 08:45
I tried out sweet potatoes last year - a very different summer weather-wise - using Beauregard and another variety - I think it was Sweet Georgia. I grew these outdoors on a well-manured ridge without protection, and watered sporadically. Like you, I started to harvest during early October, with mixed results. Some sweet potatoes were of a good size, as you'd see in the shops, including a whopper, which easily fed three people. The colour of the varieties seemed to vary from cream to yellow - not the bright orange that you get from shop-bought! - and our taste observations were that these were an altogether more delicate (to some palates insipid?) flavour; I would suggest moister with less of that wonderful caramel. However the disappointment came in lifting the bulk of the crop at the beginning of November. Something (mice? rats? moles?) had taken a distinct liking to this crop and nearly every tuber had been eaten right back to the point where it started - but just enough for me to see, frustratingly, that this would have been a very respectable crop. Consequently, I've gone back to Jerusalem artichokes this year as a reliable alternative tuber to potatoes. I probably would grow sweet potatoes again, but think that in addition to selecting a well-coloured variety I would aim to train the foliage upwards (as you might with other types of ipomoea) and away from its dense mat of ground cover, which obviously supported my phantom munchers in their mission. Heaven knows, I have two farm cats who normally deal with such intruders very effectively. Has anyone else had this problem?