Sweet Potatoes Planted With Black Plastic Mulch

Sweet Potato Slip

Sweet Potato Slip

It’s May 23rd here near Madison, Wisconsin. This morning, I planted 17 sweet potato slips into a raised bed covered with a sheet of black polyethylene. Memorial Day weekend has always been my target planting date for sweet potatoes, and this year I’m right on time.

Sweet Potatoes Planted In Black Plastic

Sweet Potatoes Planted In Black Plastic

I used this black poly sheet last year. I’ve gotten three years from a single sheet, but usually after two seasons they get torn and brittle and have to be trashed. The white rings are cut from PVC plumbing pipe.  They help protect the transplanted slips from wind and abrasion and make it easy to water the small plants.

Sweet Potato Starts in Flat

I started my slips from sprouts  on a stored two year old root.  Here’s the flat with the first slip removed. Using a soft potting soil makes getting the roots out easy.  Growing your own starts is economical and the plants are usually more vigorous than purchased slips.

Dibble

Dibble

Sweet Potato Start with Protector Ring

Sweet Potato Start with Protector Ring

Using a dibble to make a big conical hole, I plant the slip, pack the soil, and then put the ring in place.

Protector Ring Helps Watering

Protector Ring Helps Watering

After the plants are all in I give them a good soak. The ring makes it easy to direct water exactly where it’s needed.

We have numerous posts about starting and cultivating sweet potatoes as well as numerous recipes using this delicious and nutritious vegetable.  Here are a couple on starting your own plants:

Using Sweet Potato Sprouts for Starts

Extra Early Sweet Potato Starts

 

 

 

 

 

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4 Responses to “Sweet Potatoes Planted With Black Plastic Mulch”

  1. Hi Noel:

    Thanks for the great article. I’m now up in the Northeast and am getting the garden growing.

    A quick question about the PVC ring: what are the dimensions of it and do you just lay it on the surface or does it go into the soil (if so, how deep). Also, at what point do you remove it?

  2. Noel says:

    Hello Martin. I use 3-1/2 inch outside diameter, 1/4″ thick wall pipe cut to 1-1/2″ circles. I just barely push the ring into the soil around the newly planted slip. I don’t remove it, but leave it in place all season. The vines have plenty of room for expansion inside the ring. I just snip the vines off with pruning loppers right at the ring when I’m ready to harvest.

  3. Kathy says:

    Watched your lecture on sweet potatoes today. Excellent info. Missed the web address for types we can grow in Wisconsin and where to get them.

  4. Noel says:

    A list of varieties and comments is here: http://ipm.illinois.edu/ifvn/volume17/frveg1701.html Scroll all the way down to the article on sweet potatoes. We have had very good luck with Jewel. Sweet potatoes for starts can be purchased in many markets. Store bought potatoes usually can produce good starts. A good source in Madison is Willy Street Co-op.