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Sweet Potato

Sweet Potatoes succeed best in the South, but they are grown in home gardens as far north as southern New York and southern Michigan. They can be grown even farther north, in sections having especially mild climates, such as the Pacific Northwest. In general, sweet potatoes may be grown wherever there is a frost-free period of about 150 days with relatively high temperature.

A well-drained, moderately deep sandy loam of medium fertility is best for sweet potatoes.

Heavy clays and very deep loose-textured soils encourage the formation of long stringy roots. For best results the soil should be moderately fertilized throughout. If applied under the rows, the fertilizer should be well mixed with the soil.

In most of the area over which sweet potatoes are grown it is necessary to start the plants in a hotbed, because the season is too short to produce a good crop after the weather warms enough to start plants outdoors. Bed roots used for seed close together in a hotbed and cover them with about 2 inches of sand or fine soil, such as leaf mold. It is not safe to set the plants in the open ground until the soil is warm and the weather settled. Toward the last, ventilate the hotbed freely to harden the plants.

The plants are usually set on top of ridges, 3-1/2 to 4 feet apart, with the plants about 12 inches apart in the row. When the vines have covered the ground, no further cultivation is necessary, but some additional hand weeding may be required.

Dig sweet potatoes a short time before frost, on a bright, drying day when the soil is not too wet to work easily. On a small scale they may be dug with a spading fork, great care being taken not to bruise or injure the roots. 

Let the roots lie exposed for 2 or 3 hours to dry thoroughly but not in direct sunlight during the hot part of the day; then put them in containers and place them in a warm room to cure. The proper curing temperature is 85� F. Curing for about 10 days is followed by storage at 55" to 60�.

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