Protecting Sweet Potatoes from Gophers: DIY Solutions for a Healthy Harvest

Protecting Sweet Potatoes from Gophers: DIY Solutions for a Healthy Harvest
Sweet Potato Harvesting - How to Pick Sweet Potatoes

Growing sweet potatoes is a great way to add variety to your garden. When it comes to protecting them from gophers, you have two options: using gopher baskets or DIY-ing with hardware cloth. Gopher baskets come in different sizes, so you'll need to consider the size of each slip when deciding which one to use. If you're going the DIY route, make sure to dig deep enough for the hardware cloth to be effective.

When it comes to trellising sweet potatoes, they will happily let you do so, but you'll need to wind the runners through the trellis as they won't climb by themselves. This can help with gophers by keeping the ground around where you plant them clear. However, it depends on the variety of sweet potato you're planting - if they form tubers on runners, then you'll need to take that into account when deciding how far apart to plant them.

Gophers can be a real nuisance in gardens and it's not always easy to keep them away. While some people opt for trapping and killing them, this isn't always ideal. A good alternative is creating a barrier around your crops - deer fencing for vegetables, bird netting for berries and fencing out the gophers. It may require more initial work, but it's worth it in the long run.

Hot peppers are also a great way to deter pests from your garden. Native Americans used hot peppers around their crops for this purpose and it still works today. Just bear in mind that birds don't feel the heat like other animals do, so hot peppers won't be effective against them. Ultimately, learning to co-exist with nature is key - good fences make good neighbors!

When it comes to watering sweet potatoes, they need plenty of water during the growing season. Make sure to keep the soil moist but not soggy - too much water can cause the tubers to rot. Mulching is also a great way to conserve moisture and help keep weeds at bay.

Finally, harvesting sweet potatoes can be tricky. You'll need to wait until the vines have died back before you start digging. The best way to do this is to gently pull back the soil around the plant and look for any tubers that may have formed. Once you've found them, carefully dig them up and store them in a cool, dry place.

Growing sweet potatoes with gophers doesn't have to be a challenge. With some careful planning and a few simple steps, you can protect your crop from these pesky critters and enjoy a delicious harvest!

What size gopher basket should I use for sweet potato slips?

It depends on the variety of sweet potatoes you are planting. If they are "nest" formers, a 5-10 gallon basket should be sufficient. If tubers form on runners, you may need to go up to 15 gallons.

Can I trellis sweet potatoes?

Yes, you can trellis sweet potatoes, but you will need to wind the runners through the trellis as they will not climb by themselves.

How can I protect my crops from gophers?

You can create a barrier around your crops with hardware cloth or use gopher baskets. Alternatively, you can try using hot peppers around your crops as some pests may be deterred by them. However, birds have different taste receptors and won't feel the heat.

How often should I water sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes need to be watered regularly during the growing season. Aim for 1-2 inches of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation. Make sure to avoid over-watering as this can lead to root rot and other diseases.

What type of soil is best for sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes prefer a well-draining, sandy loam soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5. Adding organic matter such as compost or manure will help improve the soil structure and provide nutrients for the plants.

When should I harvest sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes are usually ready to harvest when the vines start to die back and the tubers have reached their full size. This typically happens around 100-140 days after planting, depending on the variety.

How do I store sweet potatoes?

Sweet potatoes should be stored in a cool, dry place with temperatures between 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure to keep them away from direct sunlight and out of any plastic bags or containers that could trap moisture and cause them to spoil quickly.