We successively harvest our sweet potatoes....gently taking what is ready through the growing season, leaving the rest to continue. We don't wait until the vines flower or die back. I find this helps the plants focus on growing more/new potatoes vs keeping the ones that are ready, alive. We also trim back the vines from time to time. The leaves of an edible sweet potato plant are....well....edible (to clarify, this is not the case for ornamental sweet potato vines nor for white potatoes. Only edible sweet potatoes). They are quite delicious too! You can use them in stir fry, soups, and even salads and smoothies! You can also plant some of the clipped vines to regrow and have yet more sweet potato plants. This is best to do early to mid growing season. As it gets later into the season you have to verify you'll have enough time to make it worth sacrificing the space and or the vines that you could have just eaten.
Here are a few pictures from just a few I dug out in one small section to check on the progress. As you can see, the large ones were definitely ready. Why make the plant use its energy on keeping that alive?? We will continue to gently dig around, only taking the ready ones, leaving the rest as well as the vines to continue to grow more. This gives us about 2 more months of time to grow more potatoes! Plenty! We do this 2 to 3 times through the growing season before we do the big harvest at the end of the growing year (just before the first frost). Succession harvesting has worked for us year after year. I wanted to share this tip for maximizing your harvest.
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