Instead of buying sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) in the grocery store, raise your own harvest of this underground vegetable at home. Originally hailing from South America, the warmth-loving vine can grow anywhere where the soil temperature is warm enough (70 degrees Fahrenheit) for three to four months. Gardeners prize the plant for its hardy, low-maintenance nature, and it can also act as a lush ground cover.
Break up the soil with a spade or mechanical tiller to a depth of at least 7 inches, according to the University of Maryland. Sweet potato tubers grow underground, so the deeper and the looser the soil, the better.
Mix in a couple inches of aged compost to increase the soil's organic matter and moisture retention capacity. Fertilize the area with a single application of 10-10-10 fertilizer, applied according to the product's label since potency varies by brand.
Bury each seed potato 4 inches deep and separate each plant by 18 inches, according to the University of Missouri. If you're growing several rows of sweet potatoes, the university suggests spacing the rows of seed potatoes apart by 4 feet.
Water the planting area twice daily or as needed to keep the soil consistently moist to a depth of 4 to 6 inches. Once the sweet potato vines appear, reduce watering to 1 inch of water per week, according to the University of Missouri.