Do you love sweet potatoes, would you love to grow more of your own. Skip buying and shipping expensive sweet potato slips and skip that potato in water bit. Try the easy way instead, growing sweet potato slips in soil.
I must have been southern in my last
Our second year gardening we thought we would try our hand at growing our favorite (or one of them) southern foods. So we ordered 25 sweet potatoes slips and paid the extra shipping for faster delivery because slips are basically a live plant. When the slips arrived they looked like sad limp mostly dead weeds wrapped in newspaper and stuffed in a bubble envelope.
Regardless of the appearance we planted them anyways. About half-ish took and we ended up harvesting 50-60 pounds worth of sweet potatoes in our small urban homestead garden.
This year when I was contemplating what to put in our DIY greenhouse that could handle a little bit more heat, I decided it has been long enough, it was time to do sweet potatoes again.
But this time no more expensive slips, time to do this the cheap and easy way. This time we are growing sweet potato slips in soil. No waiting till May or June for slips to ship, no more live plant shipping prices. No more half-dead slips. This time we are doing sweet potatoes my way.
For a forewarning, Non-organic potatoes have often been sprayed with chemicals that keep them from sprouting. Taking an organic sweet potato (remember this part is important). I got mine from Azure Standard like I do the majority of my grocery shopping. Additionally organic sweet potatoes can be found in many health
Place the potato in a container, a pot (like below) or a shallow dish like a disposable aluminum baking dish with drain holes poked in it. Fill it with a small amount of soil enough to cover the bottom third of your potato. Your sweet potato does not have to be standing up like this if you use a shallow dish is can be laying on its side and partially below the soil. Now keep your soil moist.
After 2-4 weeks, depending on potato variety, you should see sprouts or tiny leaves start to grow. Keep in mind some varieties are a lot faster than others. I have a purple variety that grew very fast and a white variety that was much slower.
This is a purple sweet potato plant with 6 weeks under grow lights. Ready for planting in the greenhouse. Ignore the toddler in the window (she was sent out of the greenhouse for pulling up kale, and she didn’t agree with that decision).
Tips for growing sweet potatoes
Once you got the slips growing all over your sweet potato you are past the hard part. Sweet potatoes are a very easy to grow plant, not many pests can get to them (even my arch nemesis the grasshopper) because they are underground.
Weeding becomes super easy with these as well because soon the vines will shade out the ground and weeds will no longer be able to compete for a sunny patch of dirt.
Sweet potatoes really like heat, and water. So keeping that in mind with your area or conditions. If these were outside I would not be planting them in our zone 6b garden until may, but since it is in a greenhouse March will work for this.
How to plant sweet potato slips
As I stated already once you have the slips the rest is the easy part.
Taking your sweet potato out of whatever you were growing it in, you may have a whole mess of roots like these and that’s fine. Work them apart as best as you can. Twisting and pulling, separate the slip from the potato, ideally with as many roots still attached as you can. However you will lose some roots, don’t panic, they will be fine.
Decide what your planting distance is. I like to use the biointensive method in John Jeavons book How to grow more vegetables as my guideline on plant spacing.How to Grow More Vegetables, Ninth Edition: (and Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains, and Other Crops) Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land with Less Water Than You Can Imagine
I am planting mine 6-9 inches apart, in an offset pattern down my 4 foot wide grow bed area. Keep in mind bio-intensive garden methods require you to keep very healthy soil to grow such intensive crops.
Other traditional methods of gardening suggest 12-18 inches apart and 3-4 feet between rows.
Water them very well for the first several days/ weeks after planting to make sure the roots don’t go into shock. Weed in and around your vines when they are young but soon they will no longer need this. Then later Mother Nature do the rest, and wait for your glorious sweet potato harvest in the fall!
I did the math again this time around. I bought my organic potatoes for $2 each and used 3 potatoes. My first small sweet potato that was ready
If you are wanting to grow your own sweet potatoes, and don’t wanna mess with the buying and shipping the expensive slips. Try your hand at growing sweet potato slips in soil. It works faster than a jar of water method. Soon you will be dining on the most healthy sweet potato around and mind blown by how cheap you produced such an awesome crop of sweet potatoes ♡♡♡
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