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Sweet Potato – October Gardening Tips from The Culinary View

Tips for your Garden in October

as recommended by Charla Anthony

Renewed interest in growing your own food is understandable, particularly if you value high quality, flavorful produce and peace of mind in how it is grown. If you’ve never grown edibles in Texas, there is no better time to begin, than with the cool season garden. It actually starts in early August and runs through April or May depending on the weather. The more you know about local conditions, what to plant and when, the greater your chance for success. So, here are our garden activities for the month.

Things to plant:

– Seeds of beets, carrots, collards, leaf lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, turnip and radish. Also arugula, cilantro, dill and parsley.

– Small plants of broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, swiss chard and green onions. Also chives, dill, fennel, parsley and cloves of garlic.


Things to harvest:

– Cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes. Also pears, pecans, persimmons   and pomegranates.


Sweet Potato:

What’s in a name? Not to be overly Shakespearean, but names can be misleading. For example, sweet potatoes are not potatoes at all and for that matter, they are not yams either. A member of the

morning glory family – Ipomoea batatas – the sweet potato is an underground edible root with sweet, moist, orange flesh. Yams are dry, starchy, white tubers not even related to sweet potatoes. The Irish potato is actually an underground stem or tuber.


Plant:                    March to April in central Texas

Light:                    8 hours of full sun

Water:                  1-2 inches per week

Soil needs:           Well-drained sandy or sandy loam that is deep with low to moderate organic matter

Fertilization:       Moderate


Sweet potatoes are planted as slips – odd name, but it is actually a rooted cutting. The vines then grow through the long hot Texas summer. It takes 100 to 135 days for those underground roots to grow big and ready for harvesting. Once harvested, sweet potatoes should be ‘cured’. Commercial growers have special facilities for this process. The home gardener can simply cover them with a moist, light cloth in the garage or in a storage shed for 2 to 3 weeks. Curing increases the sweetness and flavor quality.


Charla Anthony is the Brazos County horticulturist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Bryan, Texas. Find local gardening information at Gardening question? Call 979-823-0129 or email


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