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How to Grow Sweet Potatoes and Yams

Sweet Potatoes and Yams are often viewed as two names for the same vegetable. On the contrary, they are two different vegetables. Sweet Potatoes are an uncommon crop in the U.S., grown primarily in the south. Yams are a sub-tropical plant, native to the Caribbean and Asia, and imported into the U.S. and other countries.

While yams are a vining crop that requires almost a year to develop, Sweet potatoes grow in about 100 - 150 days. The differences do not stop there. Find more about the differences between Yams and Sweet Potatoes.


Growing Sweet Potatoes and Yams:

Sweet Potatoes are grown similar to regular potatoes. They require much more growing time. They grow best in soft, rich soil. Sweet Potatoes can be grown in many other soils. Potato root development is enhanced, by adding lots of compost and loose material into the soil. When preparing your soil, add compost, straw and other amendments Work it into the top three to six inches of your soil.

Fertilize every two to four weeks. Fertilizers high in nitrogen will result in a leafy, green plant at the expense of root development. A good fertilizer for sweet potatoes and yams contain low levels of Nitrogen, and high levels of phosphorus. 6-24-24, or 8-24-24, are good fertilizers for sweet potatoes.


Harvest:

Lift potatoes out  of the soil with a shovel or pitchfork. Use care to avoid piercing the skin with your work tools. Wash, dry and store in a cool, dry place.


Days to Maturity:


Sweet potatoes: 100 - 150 days, Yams six to twelve months.


Hardiness:


Both Sweet Potatoes and Yams are highly susceptible to frost and freeze. Yams require up to a full year of frost free weather and heat. As a result, they are only grown in tropical and sub-tropical areas.


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