Anyone can grow their own sweet potatoes. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, or you are simply flabbergasted at the price of sweet potatoes these days – you can grow your own sweet potatoes! In this post, I’m going to walk you through the methods I used to get sweet potato slips, which is the start of growing sweet potatoes plants.
Growing Sweet Potatoes
Usually when we want to plant a new plant, we search out the seeds to start such a plant. Sweet potatoes are a little different in that they propagate through new plant shoots that are called “sweet potato slips”. Not through the traditional method of scattering seeds. This is partly why it is so easy for anyone to grow their own sweet potatoes! In this post I will walk you through starting your own sweet potato slips.
Starting Sweet Potato Slips
When growing sweet potatoes, you will need to think about beginning your plant with a “true” sweet potato and the timeline for growing a successful crop from start to finish.
Buying truly real sweet potatoes
If you want your plant to produce strong and good crops, it begins with choosing a real sweet potato. In our day, this is important to emphasize because of all the genetically modified food that are sold to us in supermarkets.
I’m not saying that if you bought a sweet potato from your local grocery store that it won’t work. I am saying that what you sow you will reap. If you are going to put in the effort to grow sweet potatoes, you should start with some nice tasty sweet potatoes.
Search for truly real sweet potatoes
To do this, I search for my sweet potato varieties from our natural food store. I have shopped there for a couple of years and had several conversations with the store owners and staff. It is clear to me that they care about “real food” and where it comes from (i.e. if the crops came from natural plants or if it they were cultivated from a plant that was mechanically structured to be what a person wanted it to be).
You’ll notice that I haven’t included the word “organic” here, and there are several reasons for that. The most important being that the word organic is now loosely used commercially and no longer the true sense of the word – truly real food. I don’t even know if truly real food gets across what I mean, but I’m trying to speak about food that comes from a natural plant that had no human interference in its creation.
Soil vs. Water
I have seen many tutorials for starting sweet potato slips in water. By adding tooth picks to one side of the potato and emerging 1/3 into water, the sweet potato slips will form over time.
I did however, wonder if the same would happen if the sweet potatoes were just halfway in soil. I tested this out and found that it works just as well. The best part is that I don’t have to gather and keep heaps of jars around the house while I wait for the sweet potato slips to grow.
How long does it take to grow sweet potatoes
Starting sweet potato slips and growing sweet potatoes successfully takes quite a long time. For us, the season goes as follows:
March: Place sweet potatoes in soil
April: Add slips to water to form roots
May: Plant sweet potato slips
June – August: Grow sweet potatoes
September: Harvest sweet potatoes before the rain comes
Directions to Start a Sweet Potato Plant
- Lay sweet potatoes sideways into 5 inches of soil (so that they are about 1/3 covered)
- When sweet potato slips appear about 1-2 months later, snip the new shoots (called slips) with scissors close to the base of the sweet potato
- Add sweet potato slips to jars filled with water and allow roots to form
- Once roots form, either plant the slips in soil or get the slips used to the outdoor temperatures a week or two before planting directly into your garden or container outside.
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Watch How to Start Sweet Potato Slips
For more about our garden, look at our garden series on YouTube or in blog posts: