Sweet Potatoes - Frequently Asked Questions 

The following questions and answers may tell you a thing or two about sweet potatoes.

Q. - Is a sweet potato a potato?

A. - No, a sweet potato is not a potato

Q. - Are sweet potatoes and yams the same?

A. - No, yams and sweet potatoes are not the same. See "Not A Yam" for full answers to these questions 

Q. - What do I need to know when buying sweet potatoes?

A. - Look for and buy firm, heavy, blemish-free ones.

See Advice & Tips for Buying-Cooking Sweet Potatoes 

Q. - Can sweet potatoes be refrigerated?

A. - No, they shouldn't be refrigerated. They will lose flavor and become starchy.

Q. - Can raw sweet potatoes be frozen?

A. - Yes, raw sweet potatoes can be frozen for up to six months if you blanch the peeled spuds first for a few minutes, and then submerge them in ice water for 2-3 minutes. Following these steps will keep sweet potatoes from being mushy and/or stringy once thawed. Here is a link for detailed steps on how to freeze sweet potatoes and other fresh vegetables and produce.

See Advice & Tips for Buying-Cooking Sweet Potatoes 

Q. - What is the correct spelling for this root vegetable?

A. - The correct spelling is "sweetpotato" however, the two-word spelling "sweet potato" is generally accepted. See Sweet Potato History & Origin 

Q. - Can sweet potatoes be eaten year-round?

A. - Yes. Most people think about eating sweet potatoes in the fall and during holidays like Thanksgiving; however, sweet potatoes are readily available year-round and are a tasty addition or ingredient for any meal or meal course. See Sweet Potatoes Recipes Central 

Q. - What is the sweet potato consumption, per capita, in the US?

A. - It was 13.9 lbs in 1949, 4.1 lbs in 1989, 4.3 lbs in 1992, and 4.6 lbs in 2004. In comparison, white potato consumption was over 130 lbs per capita in 2004 in the US.

Q. - Why do people put marshmallows on or in sweet potatoes?

A. - Many people outside of the USA, and a growing number within, wonder why anyone would want to "mess up" naturally sweet perfect sweet potatoes by putting marshmallows on them or in them. Click here to learn more ...

Q. - Did George Washington Carver, M.S. Agr., D. Sc. do any experiments with sweet potatoes?

A. - Yes, from the 1890's through the early 1900's, Dr. Carver did numerous experiments. Click here to learn about Dr. Carver's work while Director of the Experiment Station at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. See some of the recipes provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture back in the early 1900's.

Q. - What prouducts have been made from sweet potatoes?

A. - Flour, starch, sugar, tapioca, and over 100 other products, including over 70 dyes, have been made from sweet potatoes.

Q. - When growing sweet potato, what is a serious insect pest?

A. - A beetle called the Sweet Potato Weevil. It is about 1/4 inch in length, slender and resembles an ant. It feeds on the plant's leaves, stems and roots, and creates cavities for depositing its eggs. Its larvae hatch and then continue to eat (destroy) the crop. A non-chemical way to get rid of this pest is to starve it by removing the crop (and any from the Morningglory family), and not replacing it in the same soil and location for about a year.

Q. - Where can I get more information on growing sweet potatoes?

A. - Click here for some basic information outlined by Dr. George Washington Carver. 

Q. - How about growing or buying sweet potatoes in colder climates like Canada or the northeastern/northwestern United States? Where can I find information?

A. - Canadian author, Ken Allan - "Growing Sweet Potatoes in the Home Garden," has written extensively on this subject.  Also, you'll find sources for buying seeds, slips (starter plants), or ready-to-eat products.

A. - Click here to read a review on Ken Allan's book by Art Drysdale, an expert gardener. 

Bottom Line: Sweet potatoes are a warm-climate crop. They need at least 90, and more like 120-150, days and nights of warm weather to grow well. Some people, in northeastern states, have placed black plastic over their gardens for 3-4 weeks to warm the ground before planting their slips.

One variety, Georgia Jet, has tested well in up-state NY, and also in some New England states.

The New Hope Seed Company in Bon Agua, Tennesse can supply slips for this variety. For the northeastern and northwestern 48-states growing areas, slips would be mailed out late May/early June. Submit orders early as they are processed first-come first-served while supplies last. New Hope Seed has over 50 years experience with sweet potatoes, and has been around since the early 1800's. You can contact them at info@newhopeseed.com


Q. - How about pictures of sweet potatoes in a home garden?

A. - Click here to see pictures of this root vegetable in Ken Allan's home garden. 

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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Keeping sweet potatoes 
I live in northeastern Kentucky, USA. Sweet potatoes grow exceptionally well in this area. I use a mix of horse and mule manure on my garden. I have had …

Frozen Slips? 
Do you know if sweetpotato slips can be frozen and saved for planting the following year? Just curious. thank you. Judy

No Watering Not rated yet
Mow a space in full sun, and lay down a sheet of heavy black plastic 10' x 25'. Cut xes at spacing of 24" x 30" (50 slips). With a spoon dig a hole just …

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