Growing Sweet Potato, also Kumara

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
                       

Not recommended for growing in New Zealand - cool/mountain regions

  • Plant shoots or cuttings (Slips). Best planted at soil temperatures between 63°F and 95°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 16 - 24 inches apart
  • Harvest in 15-17 weeks.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Best in Separate bed
  • New shoots on Kumara
  • Well grown Kumara

Sweet Potatoes require a long warm growing season. Plant in free draining loose soil . Fertilise before planting but no more when the plants are growing as it will encourage vine growth. They will go for miles and you will get no tubers. If they do start spreading, lift the vines off the ground to prevent them rooting.

Mound up the soil about 20cm (8 in) before planting Let the plants die down, (leaves die or turn yellow) before harvesting the tubers. Dry them in the sun for a few days . then store in a cool dry place for up to five months.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Sweet Potato

Use mashed, boiled, roasted, baked or fried. Or use in soups, pies, casseroles, curries and salads.

Your comments and tips

21 Nov 20, Len Lind (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I would like to try growing kumera here on Stewart Island in a tunnelhouse. Is there anywhere I can buy sprouts, slips?
18 Nov 20, Aitaua (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
Hi.. Can these sweet potatoes useful for planting here in Samoa?
19 Nov 20, (New Zealand - temperate climate)
They should be.
17 Nov 20, Henk Stengs (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I have experimented with kumara for several years in Greymouth with mixed success so last summer tried growing them in old car tyres. Their black colour absorbs heat thereby increasing soil temperature. Three sets of tyres were used, each stacked two high. These were placed inside our tunnel house on the surface in a sunny position and filled with soil, with one slip allowed to grow from each central position from late November. Harvesting took place in early April, producing a total yield of 9 kg, with about 60% of shop quality, my best result yet. When I harvested the tubers I saw that they were confined to centres of potential growth areas, with no root development at their circumferences inside the tyre rims. Therefore over half of the volume of soil in each pair of tyres was not utilised. This year I will plant 2 sllps per tyre pair, positioned diametrically opposite, with root ends inside the rims to see if this will give a better result. I am interested in hearing from anyone else who has tried growing kumara in tyres. .
18 Nov 20, (New Zealand - temperate climate)
They grow sweet potato/kumara where I live (Qld Australia) by the thousands of acres. They hill the soil up into rows about .5m high with a base probably .7m wide. They take pieces of vine (called a slip) about .4m long, strip most of the leaves off. Keep the growing tip on it. They place the whole slip just under the soil horizontally with the growing tip sticking out of the soil. Where each set of leaves were on the slip, roots will grow and potatoes will form. Water each day for the first 2-3 weeks. Just a side issue, tires may not be the best thing to grow vegetables in. Rubber compound/chemicals could leach into the soil.
23 Sep 20, Elizabeth Gower (USA - Zone 10b climate)
Where can I get Kumara in the USA? I live in Southern Ventura County, Southern California and would like to grow some.
23 Sep 20, Liz (New Zealand - temperate climate)
You probably need to look for sweet potato
13 Sep 20, Adrienne (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
Can you plant an whole kumera in a container and get a crop?
14 Sep 20, Anonymous (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Yes you can but you don't need a whole kumera, a piece of vine will do. A piece about 30-60cm long of the new vine growth. Place in a trench with the tip sticking out of the soil, water twice a day for the first 2-3 weeks.
17 Sep 20, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Or depending on how big the spud is, cut it into several pieces and let them dry in the sun for a few days then plant them.
Showing 1 - 10 of 249 comments

Here is how they grow them commercially in sub tropical southern Queensland Australia. They hill the soil up with a 2' base and about 1' high - paddock looks like corrugated iron - wave pattern. They then take cuttings (called slips about 50-60cm long) of vine from a pre-existing growing plant. These are planted (in the top part of the mound) horizontally into the soil with just the tip sticking out of the soil. Keep well watered the first week or two until the plant starts growing. Good rich soil to start with and then do not fert again especially with N. You want root development not vine production. If looking for cuttings/slips/tubers ask friends/neighbours/produce companies/internet sites etc or start a tuber as stated here.

- Mike

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