Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Purple Delight Sweet Potato Harvest

Before I was even finished harvesting last year’s sweet potato crop, I began to plan out how to trial my sweet potato varieties for this year. The delay between placing my order in November and receiving the sweet potatoes in a battered priority shipping box in May provided me time to think about how I could prepare to have a better harvest this year.

My poor-looking Purple Delight Slips

The battered priority mailbox that contained my sweet potato slips

My first encounter with the sad-looking slips I received in mid-May left me wondering if they would make it a week, let alone a season, in my garden. Having seen a slight improvement in the growth of my All-Purple Sweet potatoes in April with the application of EM-1, I decided to add some EM-1 to the plot. As the slips finally established themselves I honestly expected very little but still held out hope for the best.

My Purple Delight sweet potato slips (to the left of the bush bean)

The harvest of root crops can be both exciting and scary - in that the gardener has no idea what good (or bad) could possibly lie just under the surface of the soil. The longer the span of time the crop requires to mature, the longer the gardener is left to imagine how the tubers are growing, with only the top of the plant to give any clues to the health of what lies below. Revealing what lies under the ground is like unwrapping a large gift, not knowing beforehand if it contains something really wonderful or something you would rather give away.

The area that the Purple Delight covered is in the foreground

The Purple Delight Vines take up roughly 1/5 of the area on the bottom left

Because my life has been so busy I have not really had the time to take harvesting my sweet potatoes seriously until a few days ago, when I realized that the night temperatures would soon dip below freezing. My first priority was to determine how well the new purple varieties had grown and I wanted to harvest these two varieties first, so that I could compare them to my All-Purple variety. From cleaning out some vines in the area of my Purple Delight sweet potato vines I soon found enough potatoes outside of my garden bed to start filling up a bucket.

A few Purple Delight potatoes I harvested outside of the garden

Soon thereafter came the moment that every gardener either hates or loves: digging to find out what is in the garden bed. Here are a few pictures I took while digging around:

Are there any Sweet Potatoes in there?

Pulling out the first Sweet Potatoes

I think I found something

A closer look (the black thing is a soaker hose)

Exposing a few more potatoes, the next day.

Accessing sweet potatoes sometimes requires me to dig a little

The Purple Delight Sweet Potato Crop

Over time I have developed three main criteria that I aspire to have my sweet potato crop meet: Large production, high quality dark flesh, and marketable size and shape.

This potato turned up to be a bit too big to easily sell

My favorite potato retained its beauty and high quality flesh even at a large size

 As shown in the pictures, the Purple Delight produces well (48+ pounds from one root ball) and the exhibits a very dark purple color. Although the shape and size of roots varied greatly there seemed to have been very few (if any) “woody” roots.

The over 48 pounds of Purple Delight Sweet Potatoes

Overall, I would have to say that I have been very pleased with the Purple Delight sweet potato. Of all people, I would have never dreamed at the outset that the scrawny slips from a battered box would produce so well.

Note: Purple Delight is also known as Alabama Purple. I will definitely be doing some taste testing in the future!


  1. Oh my that is some sweet potato. It took over so much space and look at the size of those potatoes.

    1. Thanks for the response, Donna. Actually, this one plant only took up about 1/5 of the area in the picture of the whole garden. I am falling behind with my posts. I have a lot more pictures to come.

  2. Hi Jay - I've been reading your sweet potato posts with interest, and wanted to point you to the posts on using All Purple I've done on Univ. of MD's Grow It Eat It blog. Latest one is - you can follow links back if interested. I linked to you at some point in the sequence. :)

    Good luck with taste-testing your Purple Delights!

    1. Thanks for the link, Ericka! I have a few others I am trying out and I will have to let you know how the taste testing turns out.

  3. I also recently harvested some. I don't even know if more left in the ground as it is too freezing outside to any garden work. What happens if you leave sweet potato in the freezing ground? You cannot possibly eat 48 lb quickly. So, how are you going to preserve them, store them?

    1. Thank you so much for the response KL!
      From my experience - over the course of subsequent freezing nights the level at which ground freezes will become deeper and deeper in the ground until the remaining sweet potatoes are frozen, then decompose.

      To store my sweet potatoes I usually put them in my water heater closet with wet towels for a couple weeks to cure after washing and drying them. Though this is nowhere as good as an actual greenhouse it helps to harden them off. Many packages I receive in the mail include beige packaging paper. I wrap my potatoes in this paper then put them in labeled boxes (to ensure I keep each variety separate). The very small or unmarketable potatoes are put in a bucket to be used first.

    2. Just FYI - The amount of sweet potatoes I harvested was much more than 48 pounds. I'll have to post more later.


Dear Gardening Friends,
I look forward to learning more about gardening with you. Your comments help me recognize that gardening is a life-long journey.

To advertisers: Note that this blog is concerned with gardening and gardening techniques. Please do not attempt to advertise here by leaving a comment. Depending upon how egregious the comment is, it may be deleted.