I should start by explaining the term hot bed , this is a specialized growing bed were we try and keep the temperature above 16°C/60°F, this is vitally important as sweet potatoes dont grow below this and prefer 24°C/75°C to as high as 37°C/100°F for over 100 days so soil heat is the important criteria
That said if you can provide warm soil they are generally have few diseases or pests and are drought tolerant
Soil Requirements For Growing Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes do best in well-drained, sandy, and fertile soil with well rotted organic matter incorporated with a pH of 5.5 to 6.5 (slightly acidic) is most favorable. If you can get local ‘Green waste ‘ this normally has perfect PH
How To Build Hot/warm Beds
There are 2 ways that have worked well for me
- a raised bed with wooden sides approximately 18inches deep, this was filled with fresh horse manure to the top, walked on to compress it down and the resulting 6inch gap at the top filled with a 50/50 mix of green waste and used grow bags.
- The sweet potato slips are planted into this top layer at 18inch spacing
- clear plastic top placed onto the the top of the bed this allows light in but traps the heat like a ‘warm’ cold frame or low mini greenhouse
- Create a raised bed by double digging incorporating fresh manure into the bottom spit and well rotted compost into the top spit .Rake this level and cover with clear plastic,this is important as the clear plastic allows the sun to heat the bed to the maximum but can incourage weed growth so its best to do this early in the year and then lift the plastic and weed before planting.
- Cut slits every 18 inches down the middle of your prepared rows.
- Create a 12-inch diameter shallow depression at each slit.
- Plant a slip in each slit. Plant the slip so that 2-4 leaves are still visible above ground.
- For the first few weeks the slip will establish roots and it will appear that nothing is happening above ground.
- Fill the depression around the plant with sand so that the slit is sealed. Rainfall will now be directed to the base of the plant
Curing Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes need to be cured for 1-2 weeks in order to taste their best. During curing, the starches within the tubor will gradually convert to sugar. Once harvested, washed, and dried, the tubers should be placed in a room with a temperature of 85-90°F/29-32°C
The curing process also help heal any nicks or injuries from harvesting, which will help the tubers store better.